Electrical Engineering and Electronics Monopolies

Electrical Engineering and Electronics Monopolies


In the capitalist countries, the electrical engineering and electronics industry is a highly monopolized branch of industry. In the USA three monopolies employ approximately 40 percent of the total number of people working in the industry, two trusts produce 80 percent of all electrical equipment in the country, four trusts control more than 50 percent of the radio electronics technology, one trust produces approximately 80 percent of the computers, and one trust manufactures about 60 percent of the electric lamps. In the Federal Republic of Germany two companies control nearly three-fourths of the production in the industry, and in Great Britain, France, and Italy three or four monopolies manufacture 50–70 percent of all the industry’s products.

The electrical engineering and electronics monopolies are among the largest monopolistic corporations in the world. Of the 50 leading industrial monopolies in 1975, eight were electrical engineering and electronics companies with a turnover exceeding $5 billion (see Table 1). Foremost in the industries were the US monopolies, which led their competitors in sales volume and production output per worker. In practically all the large capitalist countries the leading three-five electrical engineering and electronics companies include either a subsidiary of a US company or a company in which a US trust holds a large number of shares. The national monopolies of Western Europe and Japan are tied to US trusts by licensing agreements. Only the leading monopolies of the Federal Republic of Germany and Japan and the Dutch firm of Philips Gloeilampenfabrieken engage in commerce on a scale comparable to that of the American companies. However, the sales growth rates of the Western European and Japanese monopolies were substantially higher between 1967 and 1973 than those in the USA. Sales in the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Japan during the period increased by a factor of 3–4.5; in the same period sales by US monopolies increased by a factor of 0.5–2.

The operations of the electrical engineering and electronics monopolies are characterized by a high degree of foreign economic expansion, implemented primarily by large-scale exportation of goods, capital, and technology. Measured by their manufacturing and trade operations abroad, the monopolies are of the same order as the leading multinational corporations of other branches of industry. They have dozens of manufacturing facilities and hundreds of sales and service enterprises in foreign countries, and they export from 20 to 60 percent of their production, in addition to controlling the electrical engineering and electronics industry in many developing countries.

The monopolies typically specialize in the manufacture of one or a few groups of electrical engineering and electronics products (for example, low-current equipment, computers, and the like) or they may be widely diversified, in many cases manufacturing products not associated with the industry. Some monopolies manufacture standard industrial engineering products (Hitachi, Toshiba, AEG-Telefunken), chemicals and metals (General Electric Company, Philips), and military equipment; others are active in service areas associated with their primary activities, such as television and radio broadcasting, communications, and

Table 1. Principal business indicators of the leading electrical engineering and electronics monopolies (1976, in billions of dollars)
 Year foundedSalesNet profitSharesCorporate capitalEmployees (thousands)
US monopolies      
IBM ...............191116.32.417.712.7292
General Electric ...............189215.70.912.05.3380
ITT ...............192011.80.511.14.6375
Western Electric ...............19156.
Westinghouse Electric ...............18866.
RCA ...............19195.
Monopolies in other countries      
Philips ...............189111.50.2112.24.1392
Siemens ...............18478.
Hitachi ...............19106.
AEG-Telefunken ...............18835.
Matsushita Electric Industrial ...............19185.

computer maintenance; still others are active in areas not associated with their primary activities, such as publishing and supplying credit (International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, RCA Corporation, Westinghouse Electric Corporation). Such monopolies in the USA, for example, control two of the three principal television networks in the country. Electrical engineering and electronics monopolies are vital components of the monopolistic financial groups of imperialist countries.

International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is the world’s largest manufacturer of computers and an important producer of office equipment. It controls approximately 70 percent of capitalist computer production and 50 percent of the sales of electric typewriters in the USA; it is the world’s second largest producer of copying equipment. In order to achieve maximum excess profit and restrict the activities of competitors, the firm uses and reinforces its monopolistic position in the marketplace by leasing or using in its own computer centers a large share of its output. IBM is one of the most profitable companies in the world. It operates 24 plants in the USA and 26 in 13 other countries, as well as computer centers and service facilities in more than 100 countries. The company’s subsidiaries in the Federal Republic of Germany, France, and Great Britain are among the 35 largest industrial companies in those countries; in 1975, 50.4 percent of IBM’s sales and 55.5 percent of its profits were generated by the firm’s foreign enterprises.

General Electric Corporation controls more than 20 percent of the production capacity of the electrical engineering and electronics industry in the USA, 15 percent of the production of heavy electrical equipment, about 40 percent of the production of nuclear reactors, and 60 percent of the production of electric lamps; it is the country’s leading producer of synthetic diamonds. More than one-half of the firm’s sales comprise industrial electrical engineering and power equipment. In 1976 the company operated 224 plants in the USA and more than 110 in 24 other countries, from which approximately one-fourth of its production volume was obtained. General Electric is a part of the Mellon group.

International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (ITT) specializes in the production of low-current equipment, but it also manufactures industrial and military equipment, controls important intercontinental communications links, and is active in service areas (insurance, credit operations, and the like). Its enterprises outside the USA, which employ more than 150,000 people, provide approximately 50 percent of the firm’s profits. ITT is a leading monopoly in the manufacture of everyday electronic and communications equipment in Western Europe, where it controls more than 60 percent of the production of telephone equipment. It is part of the Rockefeller group.

The largest electrical engineering and electronics monopoly in Western Europe is Philips Gloeilampenfabrieken, in which controlling shares of stock (55 percent) are held by Dutch capital; Swiss, French, West German, and American capital also participates. The company is one of the foremost multinational corporations by virtue of the size of its foreign operations and activities; more than 390,000 people are employed in its enterprises in nearly 50 countries. Philips has monopolized the market for electronic and radio merchandise in the Netherlands and holds first place in Western Europe in the manufacture of electric lamps.

Siemens derives approximately one-third of its sales from power equipment. It also produces electrical engineering and electronic equipment, including medical and military equipment, and is active in the country’s atomic industry. The company operates plants in nearly 25 other countries. It is part of the Deutsche Bank financial group.

Western Electric Company, Inc., is the leading US producer of low-current equipment; it is a subsidiary of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, the largest monopoly in the field of telephone communication, to whom it delivers approximately 90 percent of its production. It is controlled by the Mellons and the Rockefellers.

The Japanese firm Hitachi makes heavy, everyday, and industrial electrical equipment, communications equipment, and electronic devices. It is one of the country’s leading monopolies in the construction of nuclear reactors. More than 15 percent of its production is exported. Hitachi has 100 plants in Japan and is associated with the Fuji and Sanwa financial groups.

Westinghouse Electric Corporation’s principal production programs are for electric and power equipment, which account for more than two-thirds of the firm’s sales. The company manufactures about 40 percent of all nuclear reactors in the USA, produces military equipment, and operates radio and television broadcasting stations. It has 111 plants in the USA and 121 in other countries (1976). It is controlled by the Mellons.

AEG-Telefunken in West Germany manufactures almost every kind of electrical engineering and electronics product; it also produces power equipment, including equipment for industry and transportation, and nuclear reactors. During the first half of the 1970’s, as a result of a highly competitive struggle for the computer and radio electronics market, its monopolistic position weakened, and the years 1974 and 1975 ended with a loss. It is part of the Deutsche Bank financial group.

RCA Corporation is the largest US monopoly in the radio and electronics industry of the capitalist world. It operates more than 30 plants and 400 radio and television broadcasting stations. It is within the sphere of influence of the financial group comprising the Rockefellers, the Lehmans, and the Lazards.

Matsushita Electric Industrial specializes in the manufacture of electric, radio, and television equipment. It operates 135 plants in Japan and 29 plants in 22 other countries (1976), selling approximately 20 percent of its production outside Japan. It is associated with the Sumitomo financial group.


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