Sour Grapes
Of course we're Fair and Balanced!

2004-02-18

Fixing the price of lysine, world-wide

The Fix is In is the title of a 1-hour episode of the radio program This American Life. It is based on a book by Kurt Eichenwald called The Informant. I have not read the book, but I did listen to the radio program and, as a result, added the book to my list of must-read books. Does this incredible story of the uncovering of a conspiracy to fix world-wide prices of lysine—an additive to fatten livestock—exemplify everyday occurrences around the world? This story may well convince you that the answer to this question is, "Yes." From the episode's description on This American Life's web site:

Yes, airline prices are always the same no matter which airline you call; in Presidential elections you always feel like you're choosing between the lesser of two evils; and it doesn't really make your hair any cleaner if do the "repeat" part of the instructions "shampoo, rinse, repeat." There are all sorts of situations in which we suspect the fix is in, but we almost never find out for certain. On today's show, for once, we find out. The whole program is devoted to one story, in which we go inside the back rooms of one multinational corporation and hear the intricate workings--recorded on tape--of how they put the fix in.
We hear from Kurt Eichenwald, whose book The Informant is about the price fixing conspiracy... and the executive who cooperated with the FBI in recording over 250 hours of secret video and audio tapes, probably the most remarkable videotapes ever made of an American company in the middle of a criminal act.


And this is only a piece of it. There's also an unsolved riddle concerning a law passed by the Illinois state legislature that all but legalized price-fixing in the wholesale liquor trade of that state; a surprise twist near the end of the lysine price-fixing story; and the impact of this case on Federal anti-trust prosecution, which, according to one person close to the case, was enormous.

Don't missing hearing this!




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