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2020

Antitrust and Trade Regulation

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Google And Shifting Conceptions Of What It Means To Improve A Product, Ramsi Woodcock Dec 2020

Google And Shifting Conceptions Of What It Means To Improve A Product, Ramsi Woodcock

Law Faculty Popular Media

Judges sometimes claim that they do not pick winners when they decide antitrust cases. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Competitive conduct by its nature harms competitors, and so if antitrust were merely to prohibit harm to competitors, antitrust would then destroy what it is meant to promote.

What antitrust prohibits, therefore, is not harm to competitors but rather harm to competitors that fails to improve products. Only in this way is antitrust able to distinguish between the good firm that harms competitors by making superior products that consumers love and that competitors cannot match and the bad firm …


A Letter To The United States Government On Wealth And Income Inequality, Matthieu Maier Nov 2020

A Letter To The United States Government On Wealth And Income Inequality, Matthieu Maier

English Department: Research for Change - Wicked Problems in Our World

The United States of America is the world’s hotspot when it comes to income and wealth inequality. The wealthiest Americans are accumulating more and more wealth everyday while most Americans, who fall somewhere around middle-class, remain struggling and stagnant. The United States’ unchecked and deregulated system of capitalism is the root cause of our country’s inequities along with our government’s refusal to set aside self-interests and biases in order to combat these issues. From the inequality caused by rouged American systems larger issues are created that lead to complications in health, wages, standard of living, and race relations within our …


Is The Digital Economy Too Concentrated?, Jonathan Klick Nov 2020

Is The Digital Economy Too Concentrated?, Jonathan Klick

All Faculty Scholarship

Concentration in the digital economy in the United States has sparked loud criticism and spurred calls for wide-ranging reforms. These reforms include everything from increased enforcement of existing antitrust laws, such as challenging more mergers and breaking up firms, to an abandonment of the consumer welfare standard. Critics cite corruption and more systemic public choice problems, while others invoke the populist origins of antitrust to slay the digital Goliaths. On the other side, there is skepticism regarding these arguments. This chapter continues much of that skepticism.


Network Effects In Action, Christopher S. Yoo Nov 2020

Network Effects In Action, Christopher S. Yoo

All Faculty Scholarship

This Chapter begins by examining and exploring the theoretical and empirical limits of the possible bases of network effects, paying particular attention to the most commonly cited framework known as Metcalfe’s Law. It continues by exploring the concept of network externalities, defined as the positive external consumption benefits that the decision to join a network creates for the other members of the network, which is more ambiguous than commonly realized. It then reviews the structural factors needed for models based on network effects to have anticompetitive effects and identifies other factors that can dissipate those effects. Finally, it identifies alternative …


Managerial Incentives To Repeatedly Collude: Frequency, Partners And Governance Rules, Catarina Marvao Dr., Chloé Le Coq Nov 2020

Managerial Incentives To Repeatedly Collude: Frequency, Partners And Governance Rules, Catarina Marvao Dr., Chloé Le Coq

Articles

Cartel recidivism has been discovered among many convicted firms and is often perceived as a result of the limited efficiency of competition policy. The incentives for managers to collude have been linked to the firm’s organizational structure, the corporate culture, and the type of executive compensation packages in place.

To the extent that undetected cartels differ from detected ones in relevant dimensions, the current empirical results on illegal cartels are biased. To tackle this issue, we use a novel dataset of a population of cartels, which were legal in Sweden up until 1993. We contribute to the current debate on …


Mere Common Ownership And The Antitrust Laws, Thomas A. Lambert Nov 2020

Mere Common Ownership And The Antitrust Laws, Thomas A. Lambert

Faculty Publications

"Common ownership," also called "horizontal shareholding," refers to a stock investor's ownership of minority stakes in multiple competing firms. Recent empirical studies have purported to show that institutional investors' common ownership reduces competition among commonly owned competitors. "Mere common ownership" is horizontal shareholding that is not accompanied by any sort of illicit agreement, such as a hub-and-spoke conspiracy, or the holding of a control-conferring stake. This Article considers the legality of mere common ownership under the U.S. antitrust laws. Prominent antitrust scholars and the leading treatise have concluded that mere common ownership that has the incidental effect of lessening market …


In Defense Of Breakups: Administering A “Radical” Remedy, Rory Van Loo Nov 2020

In Defense Of Breakups: Administering A “Radical” Remedy, Rory Van Loo

Faculty Scholarship

Calls for breaking up monopolies—especially Amazon, Facebook, and Google—have largely focused on proving that past acquisitions of companies like Whole Foods, Instagram, and YouTube were anticompetitive. But scholars have paid insufficient attention to another major obstacle that also explains why the government in recent decades has not broken up a single large company. After establishing that an anticompetitive merger or other act has occurred, there is great skepticism of breakups as a remedy. Judges, scholars, and regulators see a breakup as extreme, frequently comparing the remedy to trying to “unscramble eggs.” They doubt the government’s competence in executing such a …


Competitive Harm From Vertical Mergers, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Oct 2020

Competitive Harm From Vertical Mergers, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

All Faculty Scholarship

The antitrust enforcement Agencies' 2020 Vertical Merger Guidelines introduce a nontechnical application of bargaining theory into the assessment of competitive effects from vertical acquisitions. The economics of such bargaining is complex and can produce skepticism among judges, who might regard its mathematics as overly technical, its game theory as excessively theoretical or speculative, or its assumptions as unrealistic.

However, we have been there before. The introduction of concentration indexes, particularly the HHI, in the Merger Guidelines was initially met with skepticism but gradually they were accepted as judges became more comfortable with them. The same thing very largely happened again …


Antitrust Regulation And The Federal-State Balance: Restoring The Original Design, Alan J. Meese Oct 2020

Antitrust Regulation And The Federal-State Balance: Restoring The Original Design, Alan J. Meese

Faculty Publications

The U.S. Constitution divides authority over commerce between states and the national government. Passed in 1890, the Sherman Act (“the Act”) reflects this allocation of power, reaching only those harmful agreements that are “in restraint of... commerce among the several States.” This Article contends that the Supreme Court erred when it radically altered the balance between state and national power over trade restraints in 1948, abruptly abandoning decades of precedent recognizing exclusive state authority over most intrastate restraints. This revised construction of the Act contravened the statute’s apparent meaning, unduly expanded the reach of federal antitrust regulation, and undermined the …


Equitable Defenses In Patent Law, Christa J. Laser Oct 2020

Equitable Defenses In Patent Law, Christa J. Laser

Law Faculty Articles and Essays

In patent law, “unenforceability” can have immense consequences. At least five equitable doctrines make up the defense of “unenforceability” as it was codified into the Patent Act in 1952: laches; estoppel; unclean hands; patent misuse; and according to some, inequitable conduct. Yet in the seventy years since incorporation of equitable defenses into the patent statute, the Supreme Court has not clarified their reach. Indeed, twice in the last four years, the Supreme Court avoided giving complete guidance on the crucial questions of whether, and when, such equitable defenses are available to bar damages in cases brought at law.

Several interpretive …


Toward A Per Se Rule Against Price Gouging, Ramsi Woodcock Sep 2020

Toward A Per Se Rule Against Price Gouging, Ramsi Woodcock

Law Faculty Scholarly Articles

Price gouging is the use of high prices to ration access to a good in unexpectedly short supply. Because sellers can always recoup their costs by choosing not to ration with price and instead allowing the good to sell out, price gouging harms consumers: it transfers wealth from consumers to firms unnecessarily. This harm to consumers could violate the antitrust laws in two ways. First, it could serve as the basis for a per se rule against algorithmic price gouging — surge pricing — because the superhuman speeds with which surge pricing algorithms respond to shortages effectively shorten the period …


Class Actions And Private Antitrust Litigation, Albert H. Choi, Kathryn E. Sprier Sep 2020

Class Actions And Private Antitrust Litigation, Albert H. Choi, Kathryn E. Sprier

Law & Economics Working Papers

When firms collude and charge supra-competitive prices, consumers can bring antitrust lawsuits against the firms. When the litigation cost is low, firms accept the cost as just another cost of doing business, whereas when the cost is high, the firms lower the price to deter litigation. Class action is modeled as a mechanism that allows plaintiffs and attorneys to obtain economies of scale. We show that class actions, and the firms' incentive to block them, may or may not be socially desirable. Agency problems, settlement, fee-shifting, treble damages, public enforcement, and sustaining collusion through repeat play are also considered.


Behavioral Lessons For Antitrust Enforcement, Avishalom Tor Aug 2020

Behavioral Lessons For Antitrust Enforcement, Avishalom Tor

Faculty Lectures and Presentations

These are lecture slides to accompany a virtual lecture.

Avishalom Tor, professor and director of the Research Program on Law and Market Behavior at Notre Dame Law School, delivered this lecture to lawyers and economists of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division in Washington D.C. and throughout the country in the summer of 2020.

The lecture provides a systematic review of the lessons empirical behavioral findings offer to antitrust law, enforcement, and policy. Professor Tor introduces key findings of behavioral antitrust and explores their implications for doctrine and enforcement across the field, in areas ranging from horizontal restraints, through …


Antitrust: What Counts As Consumer Welfare?, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jul 2020

Antitrust: What Counts As Consumer Welfare?, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

All Faculty Scholarship

Antitrust’s consumer welfare principle is accepted in some form by the entire Supreme Court and the majority of other writers. However, it means different things to different people. For example, some members of the Supreme Court can simultaneously acknowledge the antitrust consumer welfare principle even as they approve practices that result in immediate, obvious, and substantial consumer harm. At the same time, however, a properly defined consumer welfare principle is essential if antitrust is to achieve its statutory purpose, which is to pursue practices that injure competition. The wish to make antitrust a more general social justice statute is understandable: …


Investment Promotion And Facilitation For Sustainable Development, Brooke Guven Jul 2020

Investment Promotion And Facilitation For Sustainable Development, Brooke Guven

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Investment is a critical component of sustainable development. In particular, under the right conditions, foreign direct investment (FDI) can improve economic growth and living standards, create jobs, transfer technology and know-how and result in supply chain upgrading. However, its benefits are not automatic, and, if not carefully governed, investment can result in harm to the environment, labour standards and lead to tax evasion or other undesirable outcomes. Investment promotion and investment facilitation, in turn, can help states attract, expand and retain FDI.


The 2010 Hmgs Ten Years Later: Where Do We Go From Here?, Steven C. Salop, Fiona Scott Morton Jun 2020

The 2010 Hmgs Ten Years Later: Where Do We Go From Here?, Steven C. Salop, Fiona Scott Morton

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In this short article, which is part of a RIO Symposium on the Tenth Anniversary of the 2010 Merger Guidelines, we suggest a number of improvements that should be considered in the next revision of the Guidelines. Our analysis is based on the observation that horizontal merger policy has suffered from under-enforcement. We provide evidence that the enforcement agencies face significant resource constraints which require a triage process that inevitably leads to under-enforcement. In light of merger law placing greater weight on avoiding false negatives and under-deterrence than false positive and over-deterrence, the article suggests a number of ways in …


The Hidden Shortages Of The Market Economy, Ramsi Woodcock Jun 2020

The Hidden Shortages Of The Market Economy, Ramsi Woodcock

Law Faculty Popular Media

If you think shortages—in goods like toilet paper, meat, and masks—came in with the pandemic, think again.

Shortages are periods during which demand exceeds supply, and they’re an inescapable feature of all markets, all the time.

When an investor bids up the price of Apple stock because none is available at current prices, that’s a shortage. When a homeowner receives multiple bids for her home, that’s a shortage. When there are “only three left in stock” on Amazon and four users click “buy,” that, too, is a shortage.

We don’t notice these quotidian shortages because sellers usually respond to them …


The Economics Of Shortages, Ramsi Woodcock Jun 2020

The Economics Of Shortages, Ramsi Woodcock

Law Faculty Popular Media

The price of food increased 2.6% in April, the largest single-month increase since 1974, but food industry executives are insisting that the country has enough food. So why are prices going up?

The explanation provided by the industry is that consumers are buying more than they need, creating shortages.

But a shortage is not a good excuse for increasing prices. Contrary to what you might have learned in Econ 101, there’s only one reason for which a shortage should give rise to higher prices: profiteering, as I explain in a forthcoming law review article.

If shortage were the only explanation …


The Antitrust Case For Consumer Primacy In Corporate Governance, Ramsi Woodcock Jun 2020

The Antitrust Case For Consumer Primacy In Corporate Governance, Ramsi Woodcock

Law Faculty Scholarly Articles

Consumers have been left out of the great debate over the mission of the firm, in which advocates of shareholder value maximization face off against advocates of corporate social responsibility, who would allow management leeway to allocate profits to workers and other non-shareholder insiders of the firm. The consumer welfare standard adopted by antitrust law in the 1970s requires that the firm allocate its profits neither to shareholders nor to workers or other firm insiders. Instead, the standard requires that firms strive to have no profits at all, by charging the lowest possible prices for the best quality products. Such …


The Limits Of Antitrust In The 21st Century, Thomas A. Lambert Jun 2020

The Limits Of Antitrust In The 21st Century, Thomas A. Lambert

Faculty Publications

Antitrust is having a moment. Commentators and policymakers, both progressive and conservative, are calling for increased antitrust enforcement to address all manner of social ills. From technology platforms' power over speech and encroachments on user privacy to wage stagnation in more concentrated labor markets, to competition softening from ever-larger index funds, to growing income inequality, reduced innovation, and threats to democracy itself - the list of maladies for which antitrust has been proposed as a remedy goes on and on.

This Article revisits The Limits of Antitrust in light of the current antitrust moment. Part I describes the central components …


Error Costs, Ratio Tests, And Patent Antitrust Law, Keith N. Hylton, Wendy Xu Jun 2020

Error Costs, Ratio Tests, And Patent Antitrust Law, Keith N. Hylton, Wendy Xu

Faculty Scholarship

This paper examines the welfare tradeoff between patent and antitrust law. Since patent and antitrust law have contradictory goals, the question that naturally arises is how one should choose between the two in instances where there is a conflict. One sensible approach to choosing between two legal standards, or between proof standards with respect to evidence, is to consider the relative costs of errors. The approach in this paper is to consider the ratio of false positives to false negatives in patent antitrust. We find that the relevant error cost ratio for patent antitrust is the proportion of the sum …


Can Covid-19 Get Congress To Finally Strengthen U.S. Antitrust Law?, Robert H. Lande, Sandeep Vaheesan May 2020

Can Covid-19 Get Congress To Finally Strengthen U.S. Antitrust Law?, Robert H. Lande, Sandeep Vaheesan

All Faculty Scholarship

The COVID-19 pandemic could cause Congress to strengthen our merger laws. The authors of this short article strongly urge Congress to do this, but to do this in a manner that ignores 5 myths that underpin current merger policy:

Myth 1: Mergers Eliminate Wasteful Redundancies and Produce More Efficient Businesses
Myth 2: Current Merger Enforcement Protects Consumers
Myth 3: Merger Remedies Preserve Competition
Myth 4: The Current Merger Review System Offers Transparency and Guidance to Businesses and the Public
Myth 5: Corporations Need Mergers to Grow


The Efficient Queue And The Case Against Dynamic Pricing, Ramsi Woodcock May 2020

The Efficient Queue And The Case Against Dynamic Pricing, Ramsi Woodcock

Law Faculty Scholarly Articles

Surge pricing—using data and algorithms to raise prices in response to unexpected increases in demand—has spread across the economy in recent years, from Amazon, to Disney World, to commuter highways, not to mention Uber, which is infamous for surge pricing rides. Companies claim that surge pricing equilibrates supply and demand, but that is impossible, at least in the short run when demand unexpectedly outstrips supply. What surge pricing really does is to ration existing supplies based on ability to pay. That is both distributively unjust and potentially inefficient. It is also anticompetitive in the sense that it reduces the power …


Joint Response To The House Judiciary Committee On The State Of Antitrust Law And Implications For Protecting Competition In Digital Markets, Jonathan Baker, Joseph Farrell, Andrew Gavil, Martin Gaynor, Michael Kades, Michael Katz, Gene Kimmelman, A. Melamed, Nancy Rose, Steven Salop, Fiona Scott Morton, Carl Shapiro Apr 2020

Joint Response To The House Judiciary Committee On The State Of Antitrust Law And Implications For Protecting Competition In Digital Markets, Jonathan Baker, Joseph Farrell, Andrew Gavil, Martin Gaynor, Michael Kades, Michael Katz, Gene Kimmelman, A. Melamed, Nancy Rose, Steven Salop, Fiona Scott Morton, Carl Shapiro

Congressional and Other Testimony

Economic research establishes that market power is now a serious problem. Growing market power harms consumers and workers, slows innovation, and limits productivity growth. Market power is on the rise in a number of major industries, including, for example, airlines, brewing, and hospitals, where multiple horizontal mergers that were allowed to proceed without antitrust challenge have markedly increased concentration in important markets and facilitated the exercise of market power. Exclusionary conduct by dominant companies that stifles competition from actual and potential rivals — including nascent rivals with capabilities for challenging a dominant firm’s market power and firms with competing R&D …


House Judiciary Inquiry Into Competition In Digital Markets: Statement, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Apr 2020

House Judiciary Inquiry Into Competition In Digital Markets: Statement, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

All Faculty Scholarship

This is a response to a query from the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, requesting my views about the adequacy of existing antitrust policy in digital markets.

The statutory text of the United States antitrust laws is very broad, condemning all anticompetitive restraints on trade, monopolization, and mergers and interbrand contractual exclusion whose effect “may be substantially to lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly.” Federal judicial interpretation is much narrower, however, for several reasons. One is the residue of a reaction against excessive antitrust enforcement in the 1970s and earlier. However, since that time antitrust …


Submission Of Robert H. Lande To House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee Investigation Of Digital Platforms, Robert H. Lande Apr 2020

Submission Of Robert H. Lande To House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee Investigation Of Digital Platforms, Robert H. Lande

All Faculty Scholarship

The House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee asked me to submit suggestions concerning the adequacy of existing antitrust laws, enforcement policies, and enforcement levels insofar as they impact the state of competition in the digital marketplace. My submission recommends the following nine reforms:

1. A textualist analysis of the Sherman Act shows that Section 2 actually is a no-fault monopolization statute. At a minimum Congress should enact a strong presumption that every firm with a 67% market share has violated Section 2. This would move the Sherman Act an important step in the right direction, the direction Congress intended in 1890. My …


Vertical Merger Enforcement Actions: 1994–April 2020, Steven C. Salop, Daniel P. Culley Apr 2020

Vertical Merger Enforcement Actions: 1994–April 2020, Steven C. Salop, Daniel P. Culley

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

We have revised our earlier listing of vertical merger enforcement actions by the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission since 1994. This revised listing includes 66 vertical matters beginning in 1994 through April 2020. It includes challenges and certain proposed transactions that were abandoned in the face of Agency concerns. This listing can be treated as an Appendix to Steven C. Salop and Daniel P. Culley, Revising the Vertical Merger Guidelines: Policy Issues and an Interim Guide for Practitioners, 4 JOURNAL OF ANTITRUST ENFORCEMENT 1 (2016).


Comment On Us Trade And Investment Agreements Submitted To Ustr, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment Apr 2020

Comment On Us Trade And Investment Agreements Submitted To Ustr, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Comments to USTR Re: U.S.-Kenya Trade Agreement (April 28, 2020): CCSI, in response to the United States Trade Representative’s request for public comment to inform its approach to a U.S.-Kenya Trade Agreement, submitted Comments elaborating on our main points that (1) investor-state dispute settlement should not be included in any U.S.-Kenya agreement and (2) principles that should guide an investment chapter or investment provisions in any such agreement should (a) strategically support cross-border investment that produces positive development outcomes for the U.S. and Kenya, (b) facilitate and support good governance of investment projects, and (c) enhance cooperation to solve challenges …


The Virulence Of Free Trade, Ramsi Woodcock Mar 2020

The Virulence Of Free Trade, Ramsi Woodcock

Law Faculty Popular Media

Specialists know that the antitrust courses taught in law schools and economics departments have an alter ego in business curricula: the course on business strategy. The two courses cover the same material, but from opposite perspectives. Antitrust courses teach how to end monopolies; strategy courses teach how to construct and maintain them.

Strategy students go off and run businesses, and antitrust students go off and make government policy. That is probably the proper arrangement if the policy the antimonopolists make is domestic. We want the domestic economy to run efficiently, and so we want domestic policymakers to think about monopoly—and …


Asymmetric Stakes In Antitrust Litigation, Erik Hovenkamp, Steven C. Salop Mar 2020

Asymmetric Stakes In Antitrust Litigation, Erik Hovenkamp, Steven C. Salop

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Private antitrust litigation often involves a dominant firm being accused of exclusionary conduct by a smaller rival or entrant. Importantly, the firms in such cases generally have asymmetric stakes: the defendant typically has a much larger financial interest on the line. We explore the broad policy implications of this fact using a novel model of litigation with endogenous effort. Asymmetric stakes lead dominant defendants to invest systematically more resources into litigation, causing the plaintiff's success probability to fall below the efficient level--a distortion that carries over to ex ante settlements. We explain that enhanced damages may reduce the problem, but …