The Archives

Everything written by Alden Abbott on law, economics, and more

The FTC, DOJ, and International Competition Law: Convergence Away From the Consumer Welfare Standard?

In less than two and a half years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) have undone more than two decades of work aimed at moving global competition law toward an economics-friendly consumer welfare standard. In tandem with foreign competition authorities, the U.S. antitrust agencies are now cooperating in an effort to ... The FTC, DOJ, and International Competition Law: Convergence Away From the Consumer Welfare Standard?

When Greg Werden Talks, the Courts May Be Expected to Listen

Among the many public-interest comments submitted on the draft merger guidelines proposed by the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) were those of Gregory Werden, who has been a visiting scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University since late 2022. Why is Greg’s filing special? Simply put, he is the ... When Greg Werden Talks, the Courts May Be Expected to Listen

The New Merger Guideline Commandments: Thirteen is an Unlucky Number

Introduction On July 19, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (the agencies) finally issued new draft Merger Guidelines (DMG), open to public comments for two months. The DMG embody a set of thirteen individual Guidelines, which “are not exhaustive of the ways that a merger may substantially lessen competition or tend ... The New Merger Guideline Commandments: Thirteen is an Unlucky Number

The FTC Shouldn’t Try to Make Amazon Divest Its Logistics Service

Bloomberg reports that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) plans a suit against Amazon to force the divestiture of the company’s logistics service. The suit, if correctly described, would try and do through litigation what could not be achieved through legislation, when Congress did not enact the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA). A successful ... The FTC Shouldn’t Try to Make Amazon Divest Its Logistics Service

The Robinson-Patman Act: The Anti-Consumer Welfare Statute

Consistent with the neo-Brandeisian penchant for downplaying (some would say ignoring) consumer-welfare concerns, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently touted its interest in “reinvigorating” enforcement of the Robinson-Patman Act (RPA). This would stand sensible antitrust-enforcement policy on its head, by devoting resources to actions that predictably would tend to diminish consumer welfare. In the hope ... The Robinson-Patman Act: The Anti-Consumer Welfare Statute

UK Poised to Begin Realizing Brexit’s Regulatory-Reform Potential

The United Kingdom’s 2016 “Brexit” decision to leave the European Union created the opportunity for the elimination of unwarranted and excessive EU regulations that had constrained UK economic growth and efficiency. Recognizing that fact, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched the Task Force on Innovation, Growth, and Regulatory Reform, whose May 2021 report recommended “a new regulatory ... UK Poised to Begin Realizing Brexit’s Regulatory-Reform Potential

UK Blocking of Microsoft-Activision Merger Is Anticompetitive and Anti-Innovation

The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) late last month moved to block Microsoft’s proposed vertical acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a video-game developer that creates and publishes games such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch. Microsoft summarized this transaction’s substantial benefits to video game players in its January 2022 press release announcing the proposed merger. The ... UK Blocking of Microsoft-Activision Merger Is Anticompetitive and Anti-Innovation

Four Horsemen of the Bureaucratic Apocalypse Come for AI

Four prominent horsemen of the Biden administration’s bureaucratic apocalypse—the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) Civil Rights Division (DOJ), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—came together April 25 to issue a joint statement pledging vigorous enforcement against illegal activity perpetrated through the use of artificial intelligence ... Four Horsemen of the Bureaucratic Apocalypse Come for AI

What the European Commission’s More Interventionist Approach to Exclusionary Abuses Could Mean for EU Courts and for U.S. States

The European Commission on March 27 showered the public with a series of documents heralding a new, more interventionist approach to enforce Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which prohibits “abuses of dominance.” This new approach threatens more aggressive, less economically sound enforcement of single-firm conduct in Europe. ... What the European Commission’s More Interventionist Approach to Exclusionary Abuses Could Mean for EU Courts and for U.S. States

When Bad Antitrust Costs Lives: The Illumina/GRAIL Tragedy

Regrettably, but not unexpectedly, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) yesterday threw out a reasoned decision by its administrative law judge and ordered DNA-sequencing provider Illumina Inc. to divest GRAIL Inc., makers of a multi-cancer early detection (MCED) test. The FTC claims that this vertical merger would stifle competition and innovation in the U.S. market for ... When Bad Antitrust Costs Lives: The Illumina/GRAIL Tragedy

Why Competition Enforcers’ Annual Roundtable Should Focus on Competition Advocacy and Combating Anticompetitive Market Distortions

Spring is here, and hope springs eternal in the human breast that competition enforcers will focus on welfare-enhancing initiatives, rather than on welfare-reducing interventionism that fails the consumer welfare standard. Fortuitously, on March 27, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) are hosting an international antitrust-enforcement summit, featuring senior state and foreign ... Why Competition Enforcers’ Annual Roundtable Should Focus on Competition Advocacy and Combating Anticompetitive Market Distortions

Is the FTC Threatening Efficient Franchise Relationships?

Franchising plays a key role in promoting American job creation and economic growth. As explained in Forbes (hyperlinks omitted): Franchising as a business institution is oriented toward reducing economic inefficiencies in commercial relationships. Specifically, economic analysis reveals that it is a potential means for dealing with opportunism and cabining transaction costs in vertical-distribution contracts. In ... Is the FTC Threatening Efficient Franchise Relationships?