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)

Bengt Holmstrom: "I'm More Concerned About the Economic Power of the Most Valuable Companies Than Their Political Power"

In this installment of ProMarket’s new interview series, Nobel laureate Bengt Holmstrom says “this may be the right time to look at political engagement...

“Political Engagement by Corporations Would Be Far Down the List of Forces Responsible for Popular Discontent”

The third installment in ProMarket’s new interview series on the economic theory of the firm. In this installment, we ask Chicago Booth’s Steven Kaplan...

Antitrust, Regulation and the “Chicago School”

Antitrust authorities, no less than regulatory authorities, are vulnerable to capture by the collective interests of groups having the most salient stakes in antitrust...

The Role of Narratives in Economics

Narratives are vectors of ideas. Nobel laureate Robert Shiller suggests that in the age of social information networks, economists need to rethink how and...

“We Are Arrogant – We hold On to Our Old Beliefs on the Gains of Trade”: ProMarket Interviews Bernard Yeung, Part 3

The third and final part of ProMarket's interview with Bernard Yeung, Dean of the National University of Singapore’s business school and one of the...

Theory of the Firm Interview Series: John Van Reenen

The second installment in ProMarket’s new interview series: Should the economic theory of the firm be modified? If so, how? In this installment, we...

Interview Series: How Incomplete is the Theory of the Firm? Q&A with Daniel Carpenter

Should the economic theory of the firm be modified? If so, how? In March, the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School...

“In a System with Dominance, There is Built-In Resistance to Change”: ProMarket Interviews Bernard Yeung, Part 2

In the second part of his interview with ProMarket, Bernard Yeung—one of the economists who laid the foundations of scientific research on economic power...

Executive Orders, Judicial Orders, and the Rule of Law

What does President Trump’s executive order on immigration and its aftermath mean for the rule of law? What does President Trump’s executive order on immigration—and...

Could the Fed Have Rescued Lehman Brothers? Q&A with Laurence Ball

A new study argues that the Federal Reserve could have saved Lehman Brothers from bankruptcy, but chose not to, partly because of political pressures.  Eight-and-a-half years ago,...

Latest news

New Study Warns Antitrust Inaction May Lead To Acceptable Collusion for Public Policy Considerations

The modernization of EU antitrust laws muddied the water with regard to the ways that antitrust authorities and courts should handle situations...

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...