What should a government do when it owns geese that lay golden eggs? Should it sell the geese to fund government programs? Or should it let them run wild so everyone can have a chance at a golden egg? That’s the question facing Congress as it considers re-authorizing the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) authority to ... FCC Auctions and the Benefits of Unlicensed Spectrum
If you wander into an undergraduate economics class on the right day at the right time, you might catch the lecturer talking about Giffen goods: the rare case where demand curves can slope upward. The Irish potato famine is often used as an example. As the story goes, potatoes were a huge part of the ... Hunting for Labor-Market Monopsonies (and Giffen Goods)
A lawsuit filed by the State of Texas and nine other states in December 2020 alleges, among other things, that Google has engaged in anticompetitive conduct related to its online display-advertising business. Broadly, the Texas complaint (previously discussed in this TOTM symposium) alleges that Google possesses market power in ad-buying tools and in search, illustrated ... Is There Any Market Power in Online Display Advertising?
Digital advertising is the economic backbone of the Internet. It allows websites and apps to monetize their userbase without having to charge them fees, while the emergence of targeted ads allows this to be accomplished affordably and with less wasted time wasted. This advertising is facilitated by intermediaries using the “adtech stack,” through which advertisers ... Online Display Advertising: What’s the relevant market?
In a recent op-ed, Robert Bork Jr. laments the Biden administration’s drive to jettison the Consumer Welfare Standard that has formed nearly half a century of antitrust jurisprudence. The move can be seen in the near-revolution at the Federal Trade Commission, in the president’s executive order on competition enforcement, and in several of the major ... The Klobuchar Bill’s Not-So-Bright Lines for Antitrust Scrutiny
U.S. antitrust regulators have a history of narrowly defining relevant markets—often to the point of absurdity—in order to create market power out of thin air. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) famously declared that Whole Foods and Wild Oats operated in the “premium natural and organic supermarkets market”—a narrowly defined market designed to exclude other supermarkets ... The Case Against Google Advertising: What’s the Relevant Market and How Many Are There?
The Finnish consultancy Rewheel periodically issues reports using mobile wireless pricing information to make claims about which countries’ markets are competitive and which are not. For example, Rewheel claims Canada and Greece have the “least competitive monthly prices” while the United Kingdom and Finland have the most competitive. Rewheel often claims that the number of ... Rolled by Rewheel, Redux
Germán Gutiérrez and Thomas Philippon have released a major rewrite of their paper comparing the U.S. and EU competitive environments. Although the NBER website provides an enticing title — “How European Markets Became Free: A Study of Institutional Drift” — the paper itself has a much more yawn-inducing title: “How EU Markets Became More Competitive ... Rising Concentration: Drifters Followup Is Worse Than the Original
Last month the EU General Court annulled the EU Commission’s decision to block the proposed merger of Telefónica UK by Hutchison 3G UK. It what could be seen as a rebuke of the Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP), the court clarified the proof required to block a merger, which could have a significant effect on ... EU General Court Sends a Maverick Packing
While much of the world of competition policy has focused on mergers in the COVID-19 era. Some observers see mergers as one way of saving distressed but valuable firms. Others have called for a merger moratorium out of fear that more mergers will lead to increased concentration and market power. In the meantime, there has ... Would You Rather: Merger or Nationalization?
Earlier this week, merger talks between Uber and food delivery service Grubhub surfaced. House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David N. Cicilline quickly reacted to the news: Americans are struggling to put food on the table, and locally owned businesses are doing everything possible to keep serving people in our communities, even under great duress. Uber is ... Uber/Grubhub: Pandemic Profiteering, Merger Moratoriums, and Rising Concentration … Or Not
In an earlier TOTM post, we argued as the economy emerges from the COVID-19 crisis, perhaps the best policy would allow properly motivated firms and households to themselves balance the benefits, costs, and risks of transitioning to “business as usual.” Sometimes, however, well meaning government policies disrupt the balance and realign motivations. Our post contrasted ... Paid to Stay Home? An Entirely Intended Consequence of the COVID-19 Stimulus