The monopoly is apparently a positive thing in the strange world of Asian economic models. Japan has its keiretsu, Korea has chaebol. Hong Kong likes to call them "investment holding trusts". China calls them "investment corporations". I recall Southeast Asia has another distinctive name for their massive corporate conglomerates. Anti-trust laws here are minimal.

The fun thing about any keiretsu (or its other Asian counterparts) is that they own the banks which supply them with funds and capital. Citicorp, one of the largest American banks, pales in comparison with the Japanese mega-banking institutions. The eight largest banks in the world are associated with various Asian keiretsu. Basically, their resources are practically unlimited, they easily crush smaller competition and takeover the rest, leaving Asia in the hands of a few gigantic megacorporations that produce anything from cars, office supplies and frozen food.

Notable keiretsu include Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Sanwa and Hyundai. Mitsubishi was the closest thing to Omnicorp in its heyday, making everything under the sun. Most of these corporations are currently in serious financial trouble, a bad hangover from the crash of 1997.

The keiretsu system was widely praised by the yuppies of the 80's as the next step in capitalist evolution, or hypercapitalism, but the anti-trust legislation held this trend in check. With the demise of the traditional Asian economic model in 1997, in the disastrous Asian Economic Crisis, these hotheads are forced to swallow their hasty words and reconsider the validity of a keiretsu based economy. Among many things, the seemingly endless flow of capital available to major keiretsu indicates that something is amiss.

I'm a conservative and a staunch capitalist, but I am no fan of the keiretsu system. Its dismantling in the past 5 years is testament to its shortfalls. American capitalism has proven itself to the most stable and beneficial economic system in the world.