Tyler Cowen has a new online book out titled “GOAT: Who is the Greatest Economist of All Time, and Why Does it Matter?” While there are potential problems in treating ideas like basketball, the project is a fun, fast read overall. As the author of a newsletter with frequent gifs, I’m all for encouraging light-hearted ... Why Armen Alchian Is the GOAT
Under the leadership of its professional anti-Amazoner Chair Lina Khan, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has finally filed its antitrust complaint against Amazon. No, not the complaint about how it’s unfair to take six clicks to cancel your Prime membership. This is the big one. It mostly revolves around sellers needing to use Amazon’s fulfillment ... Is Amazon’s Scale a Harm?
Concentration is a terrible measure of [insert basically anything people actually care about]. Have I said that before? Concentration tells us nothing about market power, efficiency, or whether policy changes can do anything to increase welfare. Economists know that, especially industrial organization (IO) economists. If we want to measure market power for a seller, a better measure is ... Are Markups Really SO Bad?
A market with 1,000 tiny sellers is not some ideal market. Concentration can be extremely beneficial, leading to economies of scale and stiffer competition to win a big share of the market. Yet the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Justice Department’s (DOJ) draft merger guidelines double down on the idea that concentration is inherently a problem. ... Competition Increases Concentration
Fifteen months after the close of the comment period, we finally have the release of the draft merger guidelines by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ). While there is a lot to digest in the 51 page document with over 100 (largely stale) footnotes, the broad picture is clear: the goal of ... New Merger Guidelines Are As Expected. That’s Not a Compliment.
Why do monopolies exist? Many textbooks point to barriers to entry as a cause of monopolies. Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok’s textbook says: “In addition to patents, government regulation and economies of scale, monopolies may be created whenever there is a significant barrier to entry, something that raises the cost to new firms of entering the industry.” ... What Is a Barrier to Entry?
One of the biggest names in economics, Daron Acemoglu, recently joined the mess that is Twitter. He wasted no time in throwing out big ideas for discussion and immediately getting tons of, let us say, spirited replies. One of Acemoglu’s threads involved a discussion of F.A. Hayek’s famous essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” wherein ... How Much Information Do Markets Require?
Under a recently proposed rule, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would ban the use of noncompete terms in employment agreements nationwide. Noncompetes are contracts that workers sign saying they agree to not work for the employer’s competitors for a certain period. The FTC’s rule would be a major policy change, regulating future contracts and retroactively ... Why I’m a Skeptic of a Noncompete Ban
One of my favorite books is Thomas Sowell’s Knowledge and Decisions, in which he builds on Friedrich Hayek’s insight that knowledge is dispersed throughout society. Hayek’s insight that markets can bring dispersed but important knowledge to bear with substantial effectiveness is one that many of us, especially economists, pay lip service to, but it often ... Knowledge, Decisions, and Noncompetes
Everyone is worried about growing concentration in U.S. markets. President Joe Biden’s July 2021 executive order on competition begins with the assertion that “excessive market concentration threatens basic economic liberties, democratic accountability, and the welfare of workers, farmers, small businesses, startups, and consumers.” No word on the threat of concentration to baby puppies, but the ... Is Market Concentration Actually Rising?
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” says Al Pacino’s character, Michael Corleone, in Godfather III. That’s how Facebook and Google must feel about S. 673, the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA). Gus Hurwitz called the bill dead in September. Then it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. Now, there ... Imposed Final Offer Arbitration: Price Regulation by Any Other Name
The current Federal Trade Commission (FTC) appears to have one overarching goal: find more ways to sue companies. The three Democratic commissioners (with the one Republican dissenting) issued a new policy statement earlier today that brings long-abandoned powers back into the FTC’s toolkit. Under Chair Lina Khan’s leadership, the FTC wants to bring challenges against ... FTC Rejects Economics for ‘Fairness’