Consumers' Cooperation in European Countries

August 7, 1936

Report Outline
Cooperatives and the Anti-Monopoly Issue
Growth of Consumers' Cooperative Movement Abroad
Swedish Cooperatives and International Monopolies
Cooperation as Modification of Capitalistic System
Special Focus

Cooperatives and the Anti-Monopoly Issue

Keen Interest on the part of the Roosevelt administration in promoting a more rapid growth of consumers' cooperation in the United States was signified by the appointment by the President, on June 23, 1936, of a special commission to study consumers' cooperation in European countries. In the interval between the commission's appointment and its departure for Europe, July 1, the Democratic National Convention adopted a platform plank promising that: “We will act to secure to the consumer fair value, honest sales, and a decreased spread between the price he pays and the price the producer receives.” These are all objectives of the consumers' cooperative movement.

Notable successes attained by cooperatives abroad, particularly in Sweden, in breaking the control of prices exercised by large industrial combinations are believed to have interested the President in the possibility of employing a similar weapon against monopolistic practices in this country. It is indicated that the administration sees in consumers' cooperatives, which so far have had only a limited growth in the United States, a potentially more effective method of curbing corporate abuses than cither the direct, regulation attempted through the N. R. A. or the legal control sought to be imposed by the anti-trust laws. Consumers' cooperation used for this purpose means price competition. It involves application in a broad way of the yardstick principle long cherished by the President and now exemplified in the operations of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Discussion of consumers' cooperation may inject a new note into debate on the anti-monopoly issue, which promises to occupy an important place in the current presidential campaign. While the Republican platform contains no plank specifically concerning consumers, its agricultural plank includes a pledge to “encourage and further develop cooperative marketing.” Former Governor Lowden of Illinois, who recently conferred with Governor Landon, made a study of Danish agricultural cooperatives a decade ago and in an interview on July 15, 1926, said that “much, if not all, of their system could be adopted by our farmers.” Agricultural cooperation has been stressed consistently by Republican administrations since the war.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Antitrust and Monopolies
Consumer Behavior
Regional Political Affairs: Europe