Exxon Mobil: Merging Pains

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NEW YORK: The new Exxon Mobil Corp. is the biggest company in the world, producing more crude than Kuwait. But it's getting smaller already. Besides the 20,000 layoffs the merger is expected to inflict, the Federal Trade Commission may well do some pruning of its own -- though nothing on the scale of that 1911 trust-bust that made this Standard Oil reunion possible.

First stop: the street corners. Connecticut's attorney general has already complainined that in the northeast, Mobil and Exxon often go head-to-head -- some stations will have to be sold to competitors. But while the merger may well inflict some pain and suffering on employees, it's of no concern to consumers. "Oil prices are at 25-year lows, and the market won't reflate for four or five years," says TIME senior economics reporter Bernard Baumohl. Adjusted for inflation, a gallon at the pump is cheaper than ever before.