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That's small money for the Google.

Last year they gave Google €4.34bn fine and in year 2017 they gave Google €2.42bn fine.

Basically, at this point I'm sure there is a standing ~€2.5 bn section in Google's annual budget simply labeled "misc. EU fines". If they manage to keep it under €2bn in any given year they probably consider that a win and pay out bonuses to their legal team.

The fine is only part of the EUC action, the fined entity has also the obligation to change their behavior as suggested by EUC to stop asap their abusive actions.

How do you reconcile this with the knowledge they’ve been fine $x billion every year for the past 3 years (at least?)?

At what point does Big Corp run out of things to abuse?

If the fines just become a cost of doing business the finance and legal teams can probably get creative and invent new ways of mashing up old abuses over time.

I think the underlying theme here, then, is that the fines are necessary but not sufficient.

There's nothing really stopping the EU from making the fines larger if they don't correct their behavior. The point of a fine like this isn't to completely cripple a company, but to make it understand that there are very real consequences.

It's very simplistic to look at their yearly revenue and say they can just absorb it. If the money they made off of an activity like this was less than the fine, absorbing it won't make sense.

Even if they absorb it, accounting for R&D and other expenses on a product, the profit margin could be sufficiently ruined for the entire product to no longer be viable or a competitor could take over the market easily.

All the fines have been about the same time period (2010-2016), but on different products (Shopping, Android and now Adsense). It's not Google changing stuff and getting fined again.

That's why there's this provision in the official EU press release:

Finally, Google is also liable to face civil actions for damages that can be brought before the courts of the Member States by any person or business affected by its anti-competitive behaviour. The new EU Antitrust Damages Directive makes it easier for victims of anti-competitive practices to obtain damages.

This is why at some point executives need to face potential prison time. The EU should put the requirements to stop the abuse and if next year the change hasn’t taken place, investigate individuals responsible.

That's right. They say corporations are people too, however corporations aren't sent to jail. They aren't barred from voting. They have more rights than human people.

Imagine if Google went to jail and had to work for 13 cents an hour making license plates.

Similarly, there's probably a ~€2.5 bn line item in the EU budget that reads "misc. Google fines". ;)

The legal team must be proud of their achievement

Unlikely: google has a 2017 revenue of 109.65 Billion US dollars. that's up to 5 % (conversion rates guessed) of it's total REVENUE. This will hurt their profits even more. A fine of this magnitude really makes the difference between funding a new product / moonshot or not I figure.

Google's free cash flow in 2018 was around 21 billion, and Europe/Middle East/Africa make up around 33% of their business. If you assume that the margins and capex in that area is similar, then the EU fines have nearly exceeded Europe's portion of Google's FCF for 2018.

Nah, I think 10x the fine and you're really starting to hurt.

50% of revenue sounds more like chopping off an arm or a leg than starting to hurt.

I was kidding, of course. Profit margins, even for Google, let alone a small digital business, are a fraction of revenue, typically negative.

That's exactly what needs to happen. Google needs to lose a leg or an arm. Something that significant, but in corporate terms. Like maybe force them to divest of European holdings. Separate that business from North American operations. Or just exile then from Europe all together.

It's probably what they would normally pay in taxes if it wasn't for the current tax evasion schemes in play.

It does have some effect; rumors are that Google will start a Browser-Choice dialog similar to Microsoft on Android soon. [https://www.golem.de/news/android-google-fragt-nutzer-kuenft...]

To my knowledge each country within the EU can also seperately fine Google. It could add up very quickly.

Personally i also think getting fined constantly is not a reliable business model. :)

It's a risk / reward thing, if getting fined for less than what they earned (both in actual money and in removing competition from the equation) then it's worth the risk.

You forgot to state the follow up: these fines require changes, and lacking changes get higher very quickly. Losing 1/3 of you advertisement-market is not profitable either if it gets to that.

These top EU fines so far are extremely large, larger than anything a US regulator or jury orders, perhaps larger than the largest ever US fine.

Just because they are larger than US doesn’t mean they are extremely large - I would argue it’s US fines that are too small, and regulators being too mild.

As for larger ever US fine - perhaps for Google. US can also be rough.

It seems like EU's policy of retribution on Big Tech for US fining European banks.


A good faith interpretation would be that the US has the most advanced system for financial regulation, while the EU is better (or emphasises) antitrust and privacy regulation.

Both seem to perfectly consistent with New York being the world's premier financial center and Europe being somewhat renown for stronger consumer protection.

(which leaves Volkswagen as a terribly embarrassing example of regulatory capture in Germany)

To be fair, roundup has a magical characteristic in only starting to cause cancer once Monsanto was no longer a US company.

Some German states own parts of VW and clearly would prefer to believe it to be honest mistake VW has learned from. No one should be surprised that the Deutsche Bank are criminals either. I dont think those cases are anything more then corruption preventing proper prosecution. Big corporations simply get away with a lot of stuff if its politically inconvenient. I mean the HSBC laundered billions for drug cartels. Heckler and Koch breached weapon embargos. Non of that is in any way a grey area but plain and simply criminal conspiracy.

> A good faith interpretation would be that the US has the most advanced system for financial regulation

One only has to take a peek at the HSBC cartel scandals to know that's patently bullshit.


HSBC is a British bank. Yet, skimming https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HSBC#Controversies it appears almost all investigations and fines were the result of SEC and other US investigations.

Watch the HSBC episode of 'Dirty Money' on Netflix. They got away with a tiny slap on the wrist for absolutely glaring circumvention of anti money laundering rules. The best way I've heard it said is America has some of the strongest financial regulations in the world, there's just laughably weak enforcement of those regulations.

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