Antitrust and Competition

Antitrust and Labor

Does antitrust have a labor market problem? The last few years have seen growing interest among academic scholars in the causes and effects of concentration in US labor markets. Concurrently (and not unrelated), there has been an explosion of interest among policymakers and the general public in the impact that firms with market power may have on wages and working conditions. What do the data say regarding employer concentration and its effect on workers? Is antitrust in its current form equipped to address issues related to labor market power? In an attempt to answer these questions and more, we have decided to launch a series of articles on antitrust and the labor market.

Corporate Governance

The system of formal and informal rules by which a company is governed. Corporate governance shapes more than just a given's company value - it dictates who controls the capital in the economy and so how this capital is being put the use. Corporate governance therefore affects and is affected by the degree of cronyism and rent-seeking in society.

Media

Effective media scrutiny can help mitigate many of the problems that lead to regulatory capture, by helping the polity to become informed and mobilized. But what are the conditions that create effective media scrutiny? And why do we observe so little of it in reality? “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” Justice Louis D. Brandeis

Regulatory Capture

When regulation protects narrow interests – usually the interests of the incumbent industry – at the expense of the public interest. Capture occurs in various ways: from straightforward bribes and threats, to more implicit quid pro quos such as the lucrative future employment (revolving door), to softer forms of cognitive/cultural capture. “... as a rule, regulation is acquired by the industry and is designed and operated primarily for its benefit.” George Stigler - The Theory of Economic Regulation (1971)

Special interest groups

Special interest groups: Groups with preferences that differ from the preferences of the median voter. There is nothing wrong with special interests forming groups per se; the trouble starts when they disproportionally sway policy in their favor. “...the great enemy of democracy is monopoly, in all its forms: gigantic corporations, trade associations and other agencies for price control, trade-union… Effectively organized functional groups possess tremendous power for exploiting the community at large and even sabotaging the system.” Henry Calvert Simons - A Positive Program for Laissez Faire (1934)

Seize the Means of Computation

To regain internet autonomy from Big Tech companies, lower switching costs with legislation that allows new services to subvert network effects and...

Inflation, Corporate Power, and the Forgotten New Deal

A forgotten aspect of the New Deal is that it took place amid inflation and rising prices. Contemporary debates over inflation and whether corporate greed...

Should ESG-Driven Investors and Stakeholders Divest or Engage? A Stigler Center/Rustandy Center Panel Explores

Should investors and stakeholders who wish to influence companies to promote desirable social and environmental outcomes focus on actions like divestment and...

Is It Better to Address the Apple-Google App Store Duopoly Through Antitrust or Regulation? 

A new paper analyzes antitrust investigations and private litigation initiated against the Google and Apple app stores, exploring how the main anticompetitive...

Max Oversight Duties: How the Boeing Case Signifies a Shift in Corporate Law

Why did regulation, corporate governance, and fear of repetitional harm fail to prevent the Boeing 737 Max debacle from happening? A new...

Why Competition Alone Won’t Bring About a More Inclusive Digital Economy

The current reforms being debated in the US and Europe to tackle the challenges posed by tech giants tend to see more...

How Antitrust Can Better Regulate Thin Labor Markets

Thin markets, characterized by a small number of participants and low transaction volumes, create particular problems for antitrust enforcers. Hiba Hafiz explores...

How Practical Are Biden’s Proposals to Promote Labor Market Competition?

A new report from the Biden administration lays out ways to increase competition in US labor markets. Will they work?

The Economic Costs of Common Ownership

A new empirical study attempts to estimate the economy-wide welfare costs of common ownership. The authors find that they are large and...

Stigler Conversation: How the Chinese Government Thinks About Big Tech

A Stigler Center discussion between Ling Chen (Johns Hopkins) and Matt Sheehan (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), moderated by Wall Street Journal...

Latest news

Dark Money Dominates Spending by Special Interest Groups and Sways Elections

New research on undisclosed and unlimited political contributions, or dark money, exposes the increasing role that such funds play in U.S. elections.

The “Conspiracy” of Consumer Welfare Theory

Matt Stoller argues there was a conspiracy. It was more of an association with a singular purpose.

Researchers Find Reduced Competition After Pandemic

The chart of the week comes from a new research paper that documents the increase in small business closures during the Covid...

Voters Still Believe Politics is About the Common Good, Not Just Rent-Seeking

Do voters still believe that politics can be a source for common-good policies and not just partisan bickering and rent-seeking? With political...

How to Design Data Protection Laws That Actually Work 

More and more countries are passing data protection laws, yet empirical studies show that these laws rarely deliver on their promises. A...

Are Monopolists or Cartels the True Source of Anticompetitive US Political Power?

Trade associations are often the biggest obstacles to competitive markets, especially when those organizations use their influence to change public policy in...

The Uber Files Reveal The Risk of Private Interests Controlling Our Data

Researchers discovered that the introduction of Uber had negative impacts on transportation, findings that required cooperation with public authorities when Uber refused...