As 2021 draws to a close, we look back at ProMarket’s most-read and most-widely shared stories of the past year.
In a year marked by a profound shift in the way that antitrust law is enforced and thought about in Washington, with an emerging Congressional consensus regarding the risks associated with the dominance of digital platforms and “New Brandeis” thinkers Lina Khan, Jonathan Kanter, and Tim Wu effectively in charge of America’s competition policy, it is hardly surprising that the question of how to regulate Big Tech and the wider debate around the future of antitrust enforcement in the US dominated our coverage in 2021. As the pandemic continued to disrupt supply chains and otherwise challenge long-established assumptions, it should also come as no surprise that many of the pieces that most resonated with ProMarket’s readers this year focused on whether capitalism—and the field of economics—should be reformed.
As we bid goodbye to the tumultuous 2021, we take a look back at ProMarket’s most popular stories of the past year. Happy reading!
“Recent developments imply that certain platforms have accumulated so much economic and political power that they may not be governable, which militates in favor of cutting them down in size,” writes Hal Singer in this commentary piece, which proved to be our most-read piece of 2021. (March 9)
“The Trump-era DOJ’s decision to allow the T-Mobile/Sprint merger will go down as one of the worst merger-enforcement mistakes in decades,” wrote Melody Wang and Fiona Scott Morton, who went on to write that the 2019 merger “will be responsible for transferring billions of dollars in wealth from average Americans to the T-Mobile/Sprint shareholders.” (April 23)
How did a group of Chicago-trained economists manage to turn Chile into the cradle of neoliberalism? As Chile moves away from their approach to economic policy, Chilean author and journalist Daniel Matamala explores the controversial legacy of the Chicago Boys as part of our History of Economic Thought article series. (September 12)
Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) were established in the 1960s to control drug costs but have since morphed into one of the most highly concentrated segments in the health care industry, write Stacy Mitchell and Zach Freed. “Despite evidence that PBMs undermine competition and raise prescription prices, the FTC—under the leadership of both Democratic and Republican Chairs—has discouraged states from regulating them and allowed the sector to consolidate further through a series of mergers.” (February 19)
Economists typically assume that capitalists and workers are different people. A new study by Yonatan Berman and Branko Milanovic, however, finds that the intersection between the top decile of capital-income recipients and labor-income earners is growing. (January 27)
Late last year, the European Commission introduced an ambitious new set of rules for digital platforms, the Digital Markets Act. In this piece, Alexandre de Streel explains what it says and how it can succeed. Also, follow the rest of our coverage of the DMA here. (January 13)
“The Federal Trade Commission’s recent withdrawal of its 2020 vertical merger guidelines is flatly incorrect as a matter of microeconomic theory and is contrary to an extensive economic literature about vertical integration,” write Carl Shapiro and Herbert Hovenkamp. Also, read Hal Singer and Marshall Steinbaum’s response to Shapiro and Hovenkamp, as well as the rest of our vertical merger guidelines coverage here. (September 23)
“President Donald Trump’s seditious actions are exposing the political power that Twitter, Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook (TAGAF) enjoy,” Luigi Zingales wrote in this piece, published after the events of January 6. “This weekend’s events show that a coordinated action by TAGAF can put any business on its knees,” he writes. (January 11)
“Four powerful forces—cryptocurrencies, the decoupling of geographical and monetary boundaries, ad-based digital platforms’ foray into the world of payments, and the value of data—are threatening the familiar world of payment systems. The EU has to choose the proper route to follow, and it must do so sooner rather than later,” writes Luigi Zingales. (July 14)
“The lesson from the quest of German ordoliberals for a privilege-free order from the 1930s to the 1950s is that once in motion, the refeudalization of society through the entanglement of private and state power is very difficult to reverse,” writes Stefan Kolev in this piece, which opened our History of Economic Thought series. (March 28)