Welcome to the Truth on the Market Merger Guidelines Symposium

Geoffrey Manne —  26 October 2009

With the recent DOJ and FTC announcement that they will solicit public comment and hold joint workshops to explore the possibility of “updating” the Horizontal Merger Guidelines (“HMG”) in December 2009 and January 2010, the attention of the antitrust community has turned away from the heated Section 2 debates (the subject of our last symposium) and toward merger analysis.

The Agencies have set as a goal of the workshops “to determine whether the Horizontal Merger Guidelines accurately reflect the current practice of merger review at the Department and the FTC as well as to take into account legal and economic developments that have occurred since the last significant Guidelines revision in 1992.”  Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney declared that “Having guidelines that offer more clarity and better reflect agency practice provides for enhanced transparency and gives businesses greater certainty when making merger decisions, resulting in a more competitive marketplace that benefits consumers.”

The Agencies posted a number of questions for the antitrust community in anticipation of those workshops and we thought that we’d get a head start by asking our contributors what they think about the key questions:

  1. Do the Merger Guidelines Need Revision?
  2. If yes, what is the most important revision  you would recommend and why?

The TOTM Merger Guidelines Symposium will run today and tomorrow.  We’ve arranged a great lineup which includes practitioners, law professors and economists, including a number with experience at the agencies and .   And we hope that the contributors will both share their own thoughts on these issues, but also react to each others in the comments (along with comments from readers).

The lineup includes:

Dennis Carlton (Chicago GSB)

Dan Crane (Michigan Law)

Robert Gertner (Chicago GSB)

Herbert Hovenkamp (Iowa)

Einer Elhauge (Harvard)

Joe Farrell (Federal Trade Commission)

Luke Froeb (Vanderbilt)

Andrew Gavil (Howard)

Thom Lambert (Missouri)

Geoff Manne (LECG)

Steve Salop (Georgetown)

J. Gregory Sidak (Criterion Economics)

Joseph Simons (Paul Weiss)

Danny Sokol (Florida)

David Teece (Berkeley)

Josh Wright (George Mason)

Paul Yde (Freshfields)

Before we start, we want to thank all of these excellent panelists for agreeing to take some time away from their busy schedules to participate in this project.  We are hopeful that this discussion provides some insight and perspective on the Merger Guidelines Workshops.  We especially would like to thank Joe Farrell, Director of the Bureau of Economics at the Federal Trade Commission, for kicking off the event with our first post.

The first installment of the remainder of today’s posts, which will be posted throughout the day on (hopefully) regular intervals, will come from a group of economists: Dennis Carlton, Luke Froeb, Robert Gertner, Steve Salop, and a joint submission from Greg Sidak & David Teece.  The second installment will be posted early this afternoon.

Without further ado…

Geoffrey Manne

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