On Friday morning, Amazon announced it was buying Whole Foods Market for more than $13 billion. About an hour later, Amazon’s stock had risen by about 3 percent, adding $14 billion to its value.

Amazon basically bought the country’s sixth-largest grocery store for free.

As the financial reporter Ben Walsh pointed out on Twitter, this is the opposite of what’s supposed to happen—normally, the acquiring company’s share price falls after a major purchase—and it suggests that investors now believe something odd is going on with Amazon. What could it be?

From a straightforward standpoint, the Whole Foods acquisition means that Amazon will now participate in the $700 billion grocery-store business. Jeff Bezos, the company’s president and CEO, has made grabs at that market for several years—launching Amazon Fresh, a food home-delivery service, and opening several Amazon-branded bodegas in Seattle. Now he owns one of the industry’s best-known brand names.

But Amazon paid a premium to buy Whole Foods, so its new full entry into another industry doesn’t quite explain the rise. Instead, the boost in share price suggests something more ominous: An incredible amount of economic power is now concentrated in Amazon, Inc., and investors now believe it is stifling competition in the retail sector and the broader American economy.

As the country’s biggest online retailer of cleaning supplies and home goods, Amazon competes with Walmart, Target, and Bed, Bath & Beyond. As a clothing and shoe retailer, it competes with DSW, Foot Locker, and Gap. As a distributor of music, books, and television, it competes with Apple, Netflix, and HBO. In the past decade, Amazon has also purchased the web’s biggest independent online shoe store, its biggest independent online diaper store, and its biggest independent online comics store.

And it is successful on nearly all of those fronts. Last year, Amazon sold six times as much online as Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Nordstrom, Home Depot, Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Costco did combined. Amazon also generated 30 percent of all U.S. retail sales growth, online or offline.

Yet Amazon’s dominance extends far beyond retail. It also lends credit, publishes books, designs clothing, and manufactures hardware. Three years ago, it bought Twitch.com, a central player in the $1-billion business of e-sports. And on top of all this, it operates Amazon Web Services, a $12-billion business that rents servers, bandwidth, and computing power to other companies. Slack, Netflix, Dropbox, Tumblr, Pinterest, and the federal government all use Amazon Web Services.

It is, in short, an Everything Store: not only selling goods but also producing them, not only distributing media from its servers but also renting them out to others. And it’s left many experts and analysts wondering: When does Amazon become a a monopoly?

“I think of Amazon as serving almost as the essential infrastructure for the American economy at this point, when it comes to commerce. And that affords Amazon a lot of power and control,” says Lina Khan, a fellow on the Open Markets team at New America, a center-left think tank.

In January, Khan called for Amazon to receive more antitrust scrutiny in an article in The Yale Law Journal.

Historically, many of Amazon’s critics have focused on their Marketplace feature, which allows small businesses to sell their goods through Amazon’s website. Some merchants have accused Amazon of secretly using Marketplace as a laboratory: After collecting data on which products do best, it introduces low-price competitors available through its flagship service.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonpartisan advocacy group, has also criticized Amazon for this alleged anticompetitive behavior. “By controlling this critical infrastructure, Amazon both competes with other companies and sets the terms by which these same rivals can reach the market. Locally owned retailers and independent manufacturers have been among the hardest hit,” said a recent report from the group.

  • evader2014

    Amazon intends to be the channel for all commerce.

  • Disqus-helpsGOVTbreaklaws&kill

    when the company charges customers sales tax
    yet finds ways itself to avoid paying taxes
    it has become a monopoly

  • Disqus-helpsGOVTbreaklaws&kill

    federal reserve and us post office …..examples of taxpayer funded unaccountable monopolies

  • anonymous4u4me

    This bozo is not the genius they want you to think he is, he is being helped by the puppet masters and it is all part of an agenda to enslave you,

  • Sealark

    The united states broke up the bell telephone network, including the greatest reserch lab, bell labs, in the world becuase it was too big. It was bell labs that invented the transistor, the laser, and many other leading edge products. Yet amazon, a larger monopoly, can continie to exist. Something fishy is going on

  • Human_Tragedy

    Amazon becomes a monopoly as soon as the law matters again, and Jeff Bezos isn’t affiliated with the CIA.

  • Jimmy Yost

    There are two chapters in the Christian Bible that address this issue which are chapters 17 and 18. In both chapters the Apostle John who wrote the book referred to this phenomenon as Mystery Babylon. Chapter 18 mentions how the kings of the earth and the elite have such power and enjoy such luxury, but about how they and their wealth and power will be brought down suddenly. It is interesting reading although a bit hard to understand. Some Christian scholars think that Babylon is Judaism seeing as how it seems to be the unity behind the counterfeit Jews (per Revelation 2:9, 3:9, King James Version) being able to pull the strings of world control (per Rev. 18:3). But in chapter 17 verse 18 and in chapter 18 verses 16, 18, and 19 he referred to Babylon as a city. And in a certain sense Judaism operates like a city. It is interesting also that in chapter 17 verses 1-5 John saw Babylon as a woman sitting on a scarlet colored beast (scarlet symbolizing royalty and/or power). Verse 5 says: “And upon her forehead was a name written “MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” So here he refers to Babylon as a woman, but in those other verses he refers to Babylon as a city. So it is a mystery. In chapter 18 verse 2 he foretells that Babylon will be full of demons. And so it is today. Luke 4:6 (king James Version) actually reveals all of this in a nutshell, but it’s hard for a lot of people to believe.