Submitted by Nicholas Colas of DataTrek Research
Six percent of the S&P 500 testified in front of Congress last week, including FB, GOOG, and TWTR. Big Tech is responding to incremental political pressure by ramping up their DC lobby efforts. AMZN and FB, for example, have spent a collective $28.7 million on lobbying this year through Q3, each spending more than any other company and on pace for another record year. TWTR, GOOG and AAPL also increased their lobby expenditures in Q3 ahead of the national election. Bottom line: lobby spending is a productive way to assess single stock regulatory risk since it reflects how much pressure the companies themselves feel.
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While the CEOs of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook testified in front of Congress on antitrust grounds last July, those “Big Tech” companies were also ramping up their DC lobby spending in the same quarter. Last week, the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter testified in front of Congress over another issue: censorship concerns. We’re sure they will be back, and sooner rather than later
Every quarter we track DC lobby expenditures for major tech companies from the Center for Responsive Politics because we think the data provides useful insight into the industry’s own perceptions of regulatory risk. Here are the latest numbers for Q3 2020:
Q3 2020: Amazon spent a quarterly record $4.65 million in Q3 2020, up 1.1 pct q/q and 9.7 pct y/y. That topped the company’s prior record of $4.60 million in Q2.
2019: The company spent $16.79 million on lobbying last year, the most of any company even outside of tech. That bested its 2018 record of $14.4 million. Amazon spent $13.76 million in the first 3 quarters of 2020, and should easily set a new annual record at its current pace.
Q3 2020: Facebook spent $4.90 million on lobbying last quarter, up 1.4 pct q/q and 2.7 pct y/y. The quarterly record was $5.26 million in Q1 since the data was first tracked in 2009.
2019: The company spent $16.71 million on lobbying last year, exceeding its prior annual record of $12.62 million in 2018.