In a slew of financial settlements with companies Microsoft has trampled over the years, the payout for wrongdoing is roughly $3 billion to date. That represents about three months of profit for a company that literally can't spend its cash fast enough, and is giving shareholders a one-time bonus of $3 a share early next month. That payout will put only a temporary dent in the cash hoard.
What does all this mean? Simple. When governments fail to enforce the rules of capitalism, monopoly profits can buy one's way out of almost any kind of trouble.
November 14, 2004