House of Cards?

The Justice Department charges that Visa and MasterCard are squeezing consumers and competition. A judge is about to decide

Judging from the cascade of credit-card offers in your mailbox, you would think there is plenty of competition in the industry. Banks have been leaping over one another to grab more of what industry types call "wallet share"--a bigger chunk of the 80% of U.S. households that already carry plastic. So banks pick fights with other banks. Special, predatory offers abound--2.87 billion mailings in 1999 alone. "Competition doesn't get any better than this," says David Robertson, president of the Nilson Report, a credit-card-industry newsletter.

Oh, yes, it does. And so far as the Department of Justice is concerned, maybe a lot...

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