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Report: powerful companies increased profits, added to inflation

(NewsNation) — Many businesses protected or raised profits as inflation soared and households struggled, according to a new study from a pair of UK-based think tanks.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and Common Wealth released their findings Thursday, underscoring the “excess profits” the groups say are driving inflation.

If companies instead allowed their profits to take a hit rather than “pass on their higher costs to others,” inflation would ease, researchers said.

The original inflation spike was spurred by global supply chain issues in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and energy prices after Russia invaded Ukraine,” IPPR Senior Economist Carsten Jung said in an official statement.

“Our research finds that markets aren’t working efficiently, enabling large companies to make profits that likely amplified inflation,” Jung said. “This has made the cost of living crisis worse for most people, and for many smaller firms across the economy.”

ExxonMobil, Shell, Glencore, Archer-Daniels-Midland, and Kraft-Heinz were among the companies that increased their profits the most, according to the report.

The findings suggest that the market power of a small number of companies can be a main factor in profitability. In the U.K. 90% of nominal profit increases occurred in just 11% of publicly listed firms, according to IPPR.

Researchers urged policymakers to explore a new international approach to taxing excess profits as well as looking into updated competition policy to stop powerful companies from “taking advantage of economic emergencies.”

“Inflationary shocks cannot be avoided, but they need not persist so long,” Common Wealth Chief Economist Chris Hayes said in an official statement. “Our analysis of companies suggests many large firms, beyond just the commodities sector, are using their power to preserve their profit margins. This pushes the shocks downstream to workers, consumers and labour-intensive industries that are less able to absorb them.”

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