Herbert Hovenkamp is the James G. Dinan University Professor, Penn Law and the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2008 won the Justice Department’s John Sherman Award for lifetime contributions to antitrust law. His legal history writing includes The Opening of American Law: Neoclassical Legal Thought, 1870-1970 (Oxford, 2015); Enterprise and American Law, 1836-1937 (Harvard, 1991). His principal antitrust scholarship includes Antitrust Law (with the late Phillip E. Areeda and the late Donald F. Turner, 1978-2020).
In late September, the United States Federal Trade Commission sued Amazon for using a set of anticompetitive strategies to maintain its monopoly in the online retail market. ProMarket asked four antitrust experts —two economists and two law professors —to discuss the foundations and strength of the complaint’s arguments, the history of similar cases, and the potential for a legal remedy.
Google is on trial for anticompetitive behaviors designed to protect its monopoly in internet search. Herb Hovenkamp analyzes several possible remedies the presiding court and Department of Justice could pursue and suggests which ones may succeed in reinforcing competition to protect consumer interests.
In new research, Valentino Larcinese and Alberto Parmigiani find that the 1986 Reagan tax cuts led to greater campaign spending from wealthy individuals, who benefited the most from this policy. The authors argue that a very permissive system of political finance, combined with the erosion of tax progressivity, created the conditions for the mutual reinforcement of economic and political disparities. The result was an inequality spiral hardly compatible with democratic ideals.
Many financial commentators thought that the surge of retail investors participating in the stock market, the most notable of whom boosted “meme stocks” like GameStop, would democratize corporate governance and improve prosocial firm behavior, including the promotion of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. In new research, Dhruv Aggarwal, Albert H. Choi, and Yoon-Ho Alex Lee find evidence that the exact opposite took place.
Kroger and Albertsons say they need to merge to compete with Walmart. Claire Kelloway argues that what they really want is Walmart’s monopsony power, and permitting mergers on these grounds will only harm suppliers, workers, and consumers.
Does an inventor’s political identity influence their productivity? In a new paper, Joseph Engelberg, Runjing Lu, William Mullins, and Richard Townsend examine the impacts of the 2008 and 2016 United States presidential elections on Democrat and Republican inventors, with a particular focus on the quantity and quality of patents after the country elects a new president.
Seventeen former chief economists of the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice Antitrust Division urge current Agency heads to separate the legal and economic analysis in the draft Merger Guidelines to strengthen the role of the latter in merger review.
Grocers Kroger and Albertsons want to merge, which would make them the second biggest retail food chain and, according to them, enhance their ability to compete with Walmart and Costco and offer lower prices to consumers. Christine P. Bartholomew writes that the promises of more competition and lower prices for consumers are unlikely to manifest, and thus the Federal Trade Commission should block the deal.
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