The Archives

Everything written by Dirk Auer on law, economics, and more

Merger Control’s Misaligned Incentives

Antitrust policymakers around the world have taken a page out of the Silicon Valley playbook and decided to “move fast and break things.” While the slogan is certainly catchy, applying it to the policymaking world is unfortunate and, ultimately, threatens to harm consumers. Several antitrust authorities in recent months have announced their intention to block ... Merger Control’s Misaligned Incentives

Case closed: Google wins (for now)

The European Commission and its supporters were quick to claim victory following last week’s long-awaited General Court of the European Union ruling in the Google Shopping case. It’s hard to fault them. The judgment is ostensibly an unmitigated win for the Commission, with the court upholding nearly every aspect of its decision.  However, the broader ... Case closed: Google wins (for now)

The Contestable Platform Paradox

Why do digital industries routinely lead to one company having a very large share of the market (at least if one defines markets narrowly)? To anyone familiar with competition policy discussions, the answer might seem obvious: network effects, scale-related economies, and other barriers to entry lead to winner-take-all dynamics in platform industries. Accordingly, it is ... The Contestable Platform Paradox

Why There Needs to Be More, not Less, Consolidation in Video Streaming

Slow and inadequate oversight risks the streaming market going the same route as cable—where consumers have little power, few options, and where consolidation and concentration reign supreme. A number of threats to competition are clear, as discussed in this section, including: (1) market power issues surrounding content and (2) the role of platforms in “gatekeeping” ... Why There Needs to Be More, not Less, Consolidation in Video Streaming

Antitrust Dystopia and Antitrust Nostalgia

The dystopian novel is a powerful literary genre. It has given us such masterpieces as Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451. Though these novels often shed light on the risks of contemporary society and the zeitgeist of the era in which they were written, they also almost always systematically overshoot the mark (intentionally ... Antitrust Dystopia and Antitrust Nostalgia

Technology Mergers and the Market for Corporate Control

In recent years, a growing chorus of voices has argued that existing merger rules fail to apprehend competitively significant mergers, either because they fall below existing merger-filing thresholds or because they affect innovation in ways that are purportedly ignored. These fears are particularly acute in the pharmaceutical and tech industries, where several high-profile academic articles ... Technology Mergers and the Market for Corporate Control

How US and EU Competition Law Differ

U.S. and European competition laws diverge in numerous ways that have important real-world effects. Understanding these differences is vital, particularly as lawmakers in the United States, and the rest of the world, consider adopting a more “European” approach to competition. In broad terms, the European approach is more centralized and political. The European Commission’s Directorate ... How US and EU Competition Law Differ

The Virtues and Pitfalls of Economic Models

Interrogations concerning the role that economic theory should play in policy decisions are nothing new. Milton Friedman famously drew a distinction between “positive” and “normative” economics, notably arguing that theoretical models were valuable, despite their unrealistic assumptions. Kenneth Arrow and Gerard Debreu’s highly theoretical work on General Equilibrium Theory is widely acknowledged as one of ... The Virtues and Pitfalls of Economic Models

The FTC Did Not ‘Fumble the Future’ in Its Google Search Investigation

Politico has released a cache of confidential Federal Trade Commission (FTC) documents in connection with a series of articles on the commission’s antitrust probe into Google Search a decade ago. The headline of the first piece in the series argues the FTC “fumbled the future” by failing to follow through on staff recommendations to pursue ... The FTC Did Not ‘Fumble the Future’ in Its Google Search Investigation

The Problem of Data Property Rights

Policy discussions about the use of personal data often have “less is more” as a background assumption; that data is overconsumed relative to some hypothetical optimal baseline. This overriding skepticism has been the backdrop for sweeping new privacy regulations, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). ... The Problem of Data Property Rights

Building the Digital Future: Can the EU Foster a Dynamic and Crime-Free Internet?

The European Commission has unveiled draft legislation (the Digital Services Act, or “DSA”) that would overhaul the rules governing the online lives of its citizens. The draft rules are something of a mixed bag. While online markets present important challenges for law enforcement, the DSA would significantly increase the cost of doing business in Europe ... Building the Digital Future: Can the EU Foster a Dynamic and Crime-Free Internet?

Facebook and the Pros and Cons of Ex Post Merger Reviews

The Federal Trade Commission and 46 state attorneys general (along with the District of Columbia and the Territory of Guam) filed their long-awaited complaints against Facebook Dec. 9. The crux of the arguments in both lawsuits is that Facebook pursued a series of acquisitions over the past decade that aimed to cement its prominent position ... Facebook and the Pros and Cons of Ex Post Merger Reviews