(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Amazon.com Inc.’s long-awaited invasion of the pharmacy business has begun.
Amazon today said it was buying mail-order drug-seller PillPack for an undisclosed sum, ending many months of speculation and anxiety in the health-care business that Amazon, Destroyer of Industries, was coming for drugstores next. Turns out it is! Shares of pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers Rite Aid Corp., CVS Health Corp. and Express Scripts Holding Co. fell. And extra sympathy to Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., which began its earnings call just as the Amazon deal was announced; its stock tumbled 10 percent, just a week after it replaced General Electric Co. in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Max Nisen and Shira Ovide write that the industry’s big, justified fear is that Amazon will do what it has done to other businesses it has invaded: destroy profit margins. They also point out PillPack could be a useful tool for Amazon’s mysterious joint health-care venture with Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. – which may or may not threaten an even wider swath of health-care industries. If you’ve wondered why so many health-care companies are trying to merge lately, this is why.
Max and Shira note this isn’t Amazon’s first stab at the pharmacy business; it bought Drugstore.com nearly 20 years ago and then sold it to … Walgreen’s. Its foray into brick-and-mortar groceries via Whole Foods Market hasn’t yet killed that business. But pharmacies still have reasons to worry.
Bonus Amazon reading: Tech companies need to stop calling themselves “the Amazon of” whatever. – Shira “the Amazon of technology writers” Ovide
The SCOTUS Fight
The clock is now ticking on President Donald Trump to pick a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
- Stephen Carter has some helpful tips for Democrats, and some different ones for Republicans, to use in the coming nomination fight.
- Ramesh Ponnuru says Trump should pick Amy Coney Barrett, because she’s conservative, she’s a woman, and the Senate has already confirmed her for the Circuit Court, among other things.
- Whatever happens, the makeup of the high court soon won’t reflect the majority of public opinion, writes Jonathan Bernstein.
- Cass Sunstein lays out just how high the stakes are, noting that "fundamental principles of constitutional law are in for a serious overhaul."
- But Francis Wilkinson encourages Democrats to stop moping about it and vote.
Moderate Senate Republicans would be wise to push Trump to pick another “swing” justice in Kennedy’s mold, write Bloomberg’s editors. Otherwise, the court will be seen as increasingly partisan and lose credibility: “Nothing matters more at this juncture in U.S. history than maintaining respect for the Supreme Court. If Senate Republicans fail to do that, it will be their most egregious failure to date.”
The Trade Fight
Trump’s threatened tariffs on foreign-made cars will jack up the prices of cars made in the U.S., writes Anjani Trivedi – and that could make new cars unaffordable to many Americans who are already strapped. “Like real wars, trade wars have casualties,” she writes. “This one doesn’t look like it will have any real winner, whatever the president says.”
When it comes to trade, “Trump is right about China but wrong in his method,” writes Michael Schuman, who offers what he says is a better approach: Treat Chinese companies the same way China treats U.S. companies.
The Brexit Fight
Brexit boosters promised voters leaving the European Union would lead to more cash in the nation’s coffers, freer trade and bouncier hair. None of those things have happened – in fact, the UK economy has only gotten worse – and yet Brexiteers in the UK are only more determined to leave than ever. Therese Raphael explains what’s going on.
Bonus British reading: UK businesses hope England’s soccer team going deep in the World Cup will boost the economy. Mark Gilbert suggests this logic may be as shaky as England’s chances of bringing home the Cup.
Trump’s Antitrust Favoritism
AT&T Inc.’s effort to buy Time Warner Inc. hasn’t been easy. It only recently overcame aggressive resistance from Trump’s Justice Department. The Walt Disney Co.’s effort to buy Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.’s entertainment assets, on the other hand, has been remarkably easy from an antitrust perspective. And the Justice Department’s cooperation has been suspiciously well-timed to help Disney fend off a competing bid from Comcast Corp., writes Joe Nocera: “I have a hard time believing that the same antitrust division that was so fearful of the market power of a combined AT&T-Time Warner seems so unworried about the potential market power of a Disney-Fox combination.”
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.’s turnaround ambitions may be sky-high, but its plans to get there are sensibly grounded, writes Sarah Halzack.
Big U.S. banks have done more or less fine on the Fed’s stress tests so far. So why have their stocks collapsed in the past couple of weeks? Stephen Gandel explores.
American airlines shouldn’t fear threats of a boycott for not recognizing Taiwan as part of China. – Adam Minter
Trump seems to have pushed OPEC to pump more oil, but the news isn’t all good for him. – Meghan O’Sulllivan
Harvard and other prestige schools are squeezing admissions and hoarding cash when they could be educating more kids. – Noah Smith
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