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The Progressives' Antitrust Toolbox, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2022

The Progressives' Antitrust Toolbox, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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The period 1900 to 1930 was the Golden Age of antitrust theory, if not of enforcement. During that period courts and scholars developed nearly all of the tools that we use to this day to assess anticompetitive practices under the federal antitrust laws. In subsequent years antitrust policy veered to both the left and the right, but today seems to be returning to a position quite similar to the one that these Progressive adopted. Their principal contributions were (1) partial equilibrium analysis, which became the basis for concerns about economic concentration, the distinction between short- and long-run analysis, and later …


The Invention Of Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2022

The Invention Of Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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The long Progressive Era, from 1900 to 1930, was the Golden Age of antitrust theory, if not of enforcement. During that period courts and Progressive scholars developed nearly all of the tools that we use to this day to assess anticompetitive practices under the federal antitrust laws. In a very real sense we can say that this group of people invented antitrust law. The principal contributions the Progressives made to antitrust policy were (1) partial equilibrium analysis, which became the basis for concerns about economic concentration, the distinction between short- and long-run analysis, and later provided the foundation for the …


Antitrust Error Costs, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2022

Antitrust Error Costs, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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The idea that consideration of error costs should inform judgments about actions with uncertain consequences is well established. When we act on imperfect information, we consider not only the probability of an event, but also the expected costs of making an error. In 1984 Frank Easterbrook used this idea to rationalize an anti-enforcement bias in antitrust, reasoning that markets are likely to correct monopoly in a relatively short time while judicial errors are likely to persist. As a result, false positives (recognizing a problem when there is none) are more costly than false negatives. While the problem of error cost …


Framing The Chicago School Of Antitrust Analysis, Herbert J. Hovenkamp, Fiona Scott Morton Jan 2020

Framing The Chicago School Of Antitrust Analysis, Herbert J. Hovenkamp, Fiona Scott Morton

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The Chicago School of antitrust has benefited from a great deal of law office history, written by admiring advocates rather than more dispassionate observers. This essay attempts a more neutral stance, looking at the ideology, political impulses, and economics that produced the Chicago School of antitrust policy and that account for its durability.

The origins of the Chicago School lie in a strong commitment to libertarianism and nonintervention. Economic models of perfect competition best suited these goals. The early strength of the Chicago School of antitrust was that it provided simple, convincing answers to everything that was wrong with antitrust …


Health Care's Market Bureaucracy, Allison K. Hoffman Jan 2019

Health Care's Market Bureaucracy, Allison K. Hoffman

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The last several decades of health law and policy have been built on a foundation of economic theory. This theory supported the proliferation of market-based policies that promised maximum efficiency and minimal bureaucracy. Neither of these promises has been realized. A mounting body of empirical research discussed in this Article makes clear that leading market-based policies are not efficient — they fail to capture what people want. Even more, this Article describes how the struggle to bolster these policies — through constant regulatory, technocratic tinkering that aims to improve the market and the decision-making of consumers in it — has …


Is Antitrust's Consumer Welfare Principle Imperiled?, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2019

Is Antitrust's Consumer Welfare Principle Imperiled?, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Antitrust’s consumer welfare principle stands for the proposition that antitrust policy should encourage markets to produce output as high as is consistent with sustainable competition, and prices that are accordingly as low. Such a policy does not protect every interest group. For example, it opposes the interests of cartels or other competition-limiting associations who profit from lower output and higher prices. It also runs counter to the interest of less competitive firms that need higher prices in order to survive. Market structure is relevant to antitrust policy, but its importance is contingent rather than absolute – that is, market structure …


Whatever Did Happen To The Antitrust Movement?, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Dec 2018

Whatever Did Happen To The Antitrust Movement?, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Antitrust in the United States today is caught between its pursuit of technical rules designed to define and implement defensible economic goals, and increasing calls for a new antitrust “movement.” The goals of this movement have been variously defined as combating industrial concentration, limiting the economic or political power of large firms, correcting the maldistribution of wealth, control of high profits, increasing wages, or protection of small business. High output and low consumer prices are typically unmentioned.

In the 1960s the great policy historian Richard Hofstadter lamented the passing of the antitrust “movement” as one of the “faded passions of …


Capturing Regulatory Reality: Stigler’S The Theory Of Economic Regulation, Christopher Carrigan, Cary Coglianese Jul 2016

Capturing Regulatory Reality: Stigler’S The Theory Of Economic Regulation, Christopher Carrigan, Cary Coglianese

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This paper offers a retrospective assessment of economist George Stigler’s classic article, The Theory of Economic Regulation. Stigler argued that regulation is a product that, just like any other product, is produced in a market, and that it can be acquired from the governmental “marketplace” by business firms to serve their private interests and create barriers to entry for potential competitors. He challenged the idea that regulation arises solely to serve the public interest and demonstrated that important political advantages held by businesses can contribute to industry capture of the regulatory process. Although his argument was largely based on …


Defending A Mixed Economy, Herbert J. Hovenkamp May 2016

Defending A Mixed Economy, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This essay reviews Jacob S. Hacker's and Paul Pierson's very engaging book, American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget what Made America Prosper (2016).


The Progressives: Economics, Science, And Race, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Dec 2015

The Progressives: Economics, Science, And Race, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This essay is a brief review of Thomas C. Leonard, Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era (Princeton Univ. Press 2016).


The Debilitating Effect Of Exclusive Rights: Patents And Productive Inefficiency, William Hubbard Sep 2014

The Debilitating Effect Of Exclusive Rights: Patents And Productive Inefficiency, William Hubbard

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Are we underestimating the costs of patent protection? Scholars have long recognized that patent law is a double-edged sword. While patents promote innovation, they also limit the number of people who can benefit from new inventions. In the past, policy makers striving to balance the costs and benefits of patents have analyzed patent law through the lens of traditional, neoclassical economics. This Article argues that this approach is fundamentally flawed because traditional economics rely on an inaccurate oversimplification: that individuals and firms always maximize profits. In actuality, so-called "productive inefficiencies" often prevent profit maximization. For example, cognitive biases, bounded rationality, …


Endogenous Decentralization In Federal Environmental Policies, Howard F. Chang, Hilary Sigman, Leah G. Traub Jan 2014

Endogenous Decentralization In Federal Environmental Policies, Howard F. Chang, Hilary Sigman, Leah G. Traub

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Under most federal environmental laws and some health and safety laws, states may apply for “primacy,” that is, authority to implement and enforce federal law, through a process known as “authorization.” Some observers fear that states use authorization to adopt more lax policies in a regulatory “race to the bottom.” This paper presents a simple model of the interaction between the federal and state governments in such a scheme of partial decentralization. Our model suggests that the authorization option may not only increase social welfare but also allow more stringent environmental regulations than would otherwise be feasible. Our model also …


An Empirical Analysis Of Cost Recovery In Superfund Cases: Implications For Brownfields And Joint And Several Liability, Howard F. Chang, Hilary Sigman Jan 2014

An Empirical Analysis Of Cost Recovery In Superfund Cases: Implications For Brownfields And Joint And Several Liability, Howard F. Chang, Hilary Sigman

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Economic theory developed in the prior literature indicates that under the joint and several liability imposed by the federal Superfund statute, the government should recover more of its costs of cleaning up contaminated sites than it would under nonjoint liability, and the amount recovered should increase with the number of defendants and with the independence among defendants in trial outcomes. We test these predictions empirically using data on outcomes in federal Superfund cases. Theory also suggests that this increase in the amount recovered may discourage the sale and redevelopment of potentially contaminated sites (or “brownfields”). We find the increase to …


The Classical American State And The Regulation Of Morals, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Feb 2013

The Classical American State And The Regulation Of Morals, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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The United States has a strong tradition of state regulation that stretches back to the Commonwealth ideal of Revolutionary times and grew steadily throughout the nineteenth century. But regulation also had more than its share of critics. A core principle of Jacksonian democracy was that too much regulation was for the benefit of special interests, mainly wealthier and propertied classes. The ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment after the Civil War provided the lever that laissez faire legal writers used to make a more coherent Constitutional case against increasing regulation. How much they actually succeeded has always been subject to dispute. …


Asia And Global Competition Law Convergence, David J. Gerber Jan 2013

Asia And Global Competition Law Convergence, David J. Gerber

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No abstract provided.


Antitrust, The Internet, And The Economics Of Networks, Christopher S. Yoo, Daniel F. Spulber Jan 2013

Antitrust, The Internet, And The Economics Of Networks, Christopher S. Yoo, Daniel F. Spulber

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Network industries, including the Internet, have shown significant growth, substantial competition, and rapid innovation. This Chapter examines antitrust policy towards network industries. The discussion considers the policy implications of various concepts in the economics of networks: natural monopoly, network economic effects, vertical exclusion, and dynamic efficiency. Our analysis finds that antitrust policy makers should not presume that network industries are more subject to monopolization than other industries. We find that deregulation and the strength of competition in network industries have removed justifications for structural separation as a remedy. Also, we argue that that deregulation and competition have effectively eliminated support …


Shleifer's Failure, Jonathan Klick Jan 2013

Shleifer's Failure, Jonathan Klick

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No abstract provided.


The Supreme Court's Theory Of The Fund, William Birdthistle Nov 2012

The Supreme Court's Theory Of The Fund, William Birdthistle

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Just as the firm has long served as the foundational molecule of the U.S. capitalist economy, theories of the firm have for more than a century dominated legal and economic discourse. Ever since Ronald Coase published The Nature of the Firm in 1937 and asked why firms should exist in an efficient market, classicists and neoclassicists have competed to develop theories — predominantly managerialist and contractual — that best explain the structure and behavior of business organizations.

The investment fund, by contrast, has languished at the margins of corporate theory, relegated as simply a minor, if somewhat curious, example of …


Danbury Hatters In Sweden: An American Perspective Of Employer Remedies For Illegal Collective Actions, César F. Rosado Marzán, Margot Nikitas Aug 2012

Danbury Hatters In Sweden: An American Perspective Of Employer Remedies For Illegal Collective Actions, César F. Rosado Marzán, Margot Nikitas

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The European Court of Justice's ("ECJ") Laval quartet held that worker collective actions that impacted freedom of services and establishment in the E.U. violated E.U. law. After Laval, the Swedish Labor Court imposed exemplary or punitive damages on labor unions for violating E.U. law. These cases have generated critical discussions regarding not only the proper balance between markets and workers’ freedom of association, but also what should be the proper remedies for employers who suffer illegal actions by labor unions under E.U. law. While any reforms to rebalance fundamental freedoms as a result of the Laval quartet will have to …


Behavioral Advertising: From One-Sided Chicken To Informational Norms, Richard Warner, Robert Sloan Jan 2012

Behavioral Advertising: From One-Sided Chicken To Informational Norms, Richard Warner, Robert Sloan

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When you download the free audio recording software from Audacity, you agree that Audacity may collect your information and use it to send you advertising. Billions of such pay-with-data exchanges feed information daily to a massive advertising ecosystem that tailors web site advertising as closely as possible to individual interests. The vast majority want considerably more control over our information. We nonetheless routinely enter pay-with-data exchanges when we visit CNN.com, use Gmail, or visit any of a vast number of other websites. Why? And, what, if anything, should we do about it? We answer both questions by describing pay-with-data exchanges …


The Marginalist Revolution In Corporate Finance: 1880-1965, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jul 2011

The Marginalist Revolution In Corporate Finance: 1880-1965, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries fundamental changes in economic thought revolutionized the theory of corporate finance, leading to changes in its legal regulation. The changes were massive, and this branch of financial analysis and law became virtually unrecognizable to those who had practiced it earlier. The source of this revision was the marginalist, or neoclassical, revolution in economic thought. The classical theory had seen corporate finance as an historical, relatively self-executing inquiry based on the classical theory of value and administered by common law courts. By contrast, neoclassical value theory was forward looking and as a result …


Introduction To Creation Without Restraint: Promoting Liberty And Rivalry In Innovation, Christina Bohannan, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2011

Introduction To Creation Without Restraint: Promoting Liberty And Rivalry In Innovation, Christina Bohannan, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This document contains the table of contents, introduction, and a brief description of Christina Bohannan & Herbert Hovenkamp, Creation without Restraint: Promoting Liberty and Rivalry in Innovation (Oxford 2011).

Promoting rivalry in innovation requires a fusion of legal policies drawn from patent, copyright, and antitrust law, as well as economics and other disciplines. Creation Without Restraint looks first at the relationship between markets and innovation, noting that innovation occurs most in moderately competitive markets and that small actors are more likely to be truly creative innovators. Then we examine the problem of connected and complementary relationships, a dominant feature of …


Recessions And The Social Safety Net: The Alternative Minimum Tax As A Countercyclical Fiscal Stabilizer, Brian Galle, Jonathan Klick Dec 2010

Recessions And The Social Safety Net: The Alternative Minimum Tax As A Countercyclical Fiscal Stabilizer, Brian Galle, Jonathan Klick

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As recent events illustrate, state finances are procyclical: during recessions, state revenues crash, worsening the effects of economic downturns. This problem is well known, yet persistent. We argue here that, in light of predictable federalism and political economy dynamics, states will be unable to change this situation on their own. Additionally, we note that many possible federal remedies may result in worse problems, such as by creating moral hazard that would induce states to take on excessively risky policy, both fiscal and otherwise. Thus, we argue that policymakers should consider so-called “automatic” stabilizers, such as are found in the federal …


Breaking Bucks: Sec Regulation By Obfuscation, William A. Birdthistle Jan 2010

Breaking Bucks: Sec Regulation By Obfuscation, William A. Birdthistle

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This Article argues that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s first and most significant response to the economic crisis profoundly contradicts widely accepted theoretical and regulatory approaches to financial oversight. More alarmingly, the SEC’s newest rules increase rather than decrease the likelihood of future failures in money market funds and the broader capital markets.

Scholars – of both neoclassical and behavioral economic theory – have long insisted that transparency and disclosure play essential roles in ensuring efficient capital markets and sound financial regulation. Professors Gilson and Kraakman notably argued that the efficient capital market hypothesis, and its reliance on a market …


Tracking Berle's Footsteps: The Trail Of The Modern Corporation's Law Chapter, William W. Bratton, Michael L. Wachter Jan 2010

Tracking Berle's Footsteps: The Trail Of The Modern Corporation's Law Chapter, William W. Bratton, Michael L. Wachter

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No abstract provided.


The Law Of Vertical Integration And The Business Firm: 1880-1960, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2010

The Law Of Vertical Integration And The Business Firm: 1880-1960, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Vertical integration occurs when a firm does something for itself that it could otherwise procure on the market. For example, a manufacturer that opens its own stores is said to be vertically integrated into distribution. One irony of history is that both classical political economy and neoclassicism saw vertical integration and vertical contractual arrangements as much less threatening to competition than cartels or other horizontal arrangements. Nevertheless, vertical integration has produced by far the greater amount of legislation at both federal and state levels and has motivated many more political action groups. Two things explain this phenomenon. First, while economists …


A Comprehensive Theory Of Deal Structure: Understanding How Transactional Structure Creates Value, Michael S. Knoll, Daniel M. G. Raff Jan 2010

A Comprehensive Theory Of Deal Structure: Understanding How Transactional Structure Creates Value, Michael S. Knoll, Daniel M. G. Raff

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No abstract provided.


Passive Discrimination: When Does It Make Sense To Pay Too Little?, Jonah B. Gelbach, Jonathan Klick, Lesley Wexler Jan 2009

Passive Discrimination: When Does It Make Sense To Pay Too Little?, Jonah B. Gelbach, Jonathan Klick, Lesley Wexler

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Economists have long recognized employers’ ability to construct benefits packages to induce workers to sort themselves into and out of jobs. For instance, to encourage applications from individuals with a highly valued but largely unobservable characteristic, such as patience, employers might offer benefits that patient individuals are likely to value more than other individuals. By offering a compensation package with highly valued benefits but a relatively low wage, employers will attract workers with the favored characteristic and discourage other individuals from applying for or accepting the job. While economic theory generally views this kind of self-selection in value neutral terms, …


United States Competition Policy In Crisis: 1890-1955, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2009

United States Competition Policy In Crisis: 1890-1955, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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The development of marginalist, or neoclassical, economics led to a fifty-year long crisis in competition theory. Given an industrial structure with sufficient fixed costs, competition always became "ruinous," forcing firms to cut prices to marginal cost without sufficient revenue remaining to pay off investment. Early neoclassicists such as Alfred Marshall were not able to solve this problem, and as a result many economists were hostile toward the antitrust laws in the early decades of the twentieth century. The ruinous competition debate came to an abrupt end in the early 1930's, when Joan Robinson and particularly Edward Chamberlin developed models that …


Neoclassicism And The Separation Of Ownership And Control, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2009

Neoclassicism And The Separation Of Ownership And Control, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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"Separation of ownership and control" is a phrase whose history will forever be associated with Adolf A. Berle and Gardiner C. Means' The Modern Corporation and Private Property (1932), as well as with Institutionalist economics, Legal Realism, and the New Deal. Within that milieu the large publicly held business corporation became identified with excessive managerial power at the expense of stockholders, social irresponsibility, and internal inefficiency. Neoclassical economists both then and ever since have generally been critical, both of the historical facts that Berle and Means purported to describe and of the conclusions that they drew. In fact, however, within …