The Archives

Everything written by Eric Fruits on law, economics, and more

Flattening the Curve without Squashing Society: Market Responses to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way consumers shop and the way businesses sell. These shifts in behavior, designed to “flatten the curve” of infection through social distancing, are happening across many (if not all) markets. But in many cases, it’s impossible to know now whether these new habits are actually achieving the desired effect.  ... Flattening the Curve without Squashing Society: Market Responses to COVID-19

Buyback Backlash: Is the Ban Non-binding?

[TOTM: The following is part of a blog series by TOTM guests and authors on the law, economics, and policy of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The entire series of posts is available here. This post is authored by Eric Fruits, (Chief Economist, International Center for Law & Economics).] The Wall Street Journal reports congressional leaders have agreed to ... Buyback Backlash: Is the Ban Non-binding?

Goodhart and Bad Policy

[TOTM: The following is part of a blog series by TOTM guests and authors on the law, economics, and policy of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The entire series of posts is available here. This post is authored by Eric Fruits, (Chief Economist, International Center for Law & Economics).] Wells Fargo faces billions of dollars of ... Goodhart and Bad Policy

Inevitable Monopolies and More Maverick Madness

In antitrust lore, mavericks are magical creatures that bring order to a world on the verge of monopoly. Because they are so hard to find in the wild, some researchers have attempted to create them in the laboratory. While the alchemists couldn’t turn lead into gold, they did discover zinc. Similarly, although modern day researchers ... Inevitable Monopolies and More Maverick Madness

Fruits: Messy Mergers and Muddled Guidelines (Or, “Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?”)

[TOTM: The following is part of a symposium by TOTM guests and authors on the 2020 Vertical Merger Guidelines. The entire series of posts is available here. This post is authored by Eric Fruits (Chief Economist, International Center for Law & Economics and Professor of Economics, Portland State University).] Vertical mergers are messy. They’re messy ... Fruits: Messy Mergers and Muddled Guidelines (Or, “Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?”)

The Upsides of Collusion and Concentration

Conspiracies and collusion often (always?) get a bad rap. Adam Smith famously derided “people of the same trade” for their inclination to conspire against the public or contrive to raise prices. Today, such conspiracies and contrivances are per se illegal and felonies punishable under the Sherman Act. It is well known and widely accepted that ... The Upsides of Collusion and Concentration

Mr. Watson, I Want to See You … About Vertical Mergers and Price Regulation

Jonathan B. Baker, Nancy L. Rose, Steven C. Salop, and Fiona Scott Morton don’t like vertical mergers: Vertical mergers can harm competition, for example, through input foreclosure or customer foreclosure, or by the creation of two-level entry barriers.  … Competitive harms from foreclosure can occur from the merged firm exercising its increased bargaining leverage to ... Mr. Watson, I Want to See You … About Vertical Mergers and Price Regulation

Private Antitrust: What Hipsters Can Learn from Hulk Hogan

Antitrust populists have a long list of complaints about competition policy, including: laws aren’t broad enough or tough enough, enforcers are lax, and judges tend to favor defendants over plaintiffs or government agencies. The populist push got a bump with the New York Times coverage of Lina Khan’s “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” in which she advocated ... Private Antitrust: What Hipsters Can Learn from Hulk Hogan

On the Antitrust Risks of Four to Three Mergers: A Case Study of a Potential ThyssenKrupp/Kone Merger

Today, Reuters reports that Germany-based ThyssenKrupp has received bids from three bidding groups for a majority stake in the firm’s elevator business. Finland’s Kone teamed with private equity firm CVC to bid on the company. Private equity firms Blackstone and Carlyle joined with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to submit a bid. A third ... On the Antitrust Risks of Four to Three Mergers: A Case Study of a Potential ThyssenKrupp/Kone Merger

Rising Concentration, Rising Prices: Not So Fast

Wall Street Journal commentator, Greg Ip, reviews Thomas Philippon’s forthcoming book, The Great Reversal: How America Gave Up On Free Markets. Ip describes a “growing mountain” of research on industry concentration in the U.S. and reports that Philippon concludes competition has declined over time, harming U.S. consumers. In one example, Philippon points to air travel. ... Rising Concentration, Rising Prices: Not So Fast

Vertical Mergers: Fast Food, Folklore, and Fake News

In the Federal Trade Commission’s recent hearings on competition policy in the 21st century, Georgetown professor Steven Salop urged greater scrutiny of vertical mergers. He argued that regulators should be skeptical of the claim that vertical integration tends to produce efficiencies that can enhance consumer welfare. In his presentation to the FTC, Professor Salop provided ... Vertical Mergers: Fast Food, Folklore, and Fake News

T-Mobile Sprints to the Finish Line: States Demand a Do-Over

The Department of Justice announced it has approved the $26 billion T-Mobile/Sprint merger. Once completed, the deal will create a mobile carrier with around 136 million customers in the U.S., putting it just behind Verizon (158 million) and AT&T (156 million). While all the relevant federal government agencies have now approved the merger, it still ... T-Mobile Sprints to the Finish Line: States Demand a Do-Over