The Antitrust/Consumer Protection Paradox: Two Policies at War with Each Other

Joshua D. Wright

George Mason University School of Law

May 31, 2012

Yale Law Journal, Forthcoming
George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 12-45

The potential complementarities between antitrust and consumer protection law — collectively, “consumer law”— are well known. The rise of the newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) portends a deep rift in the intellectual infrastructure of consumer law that threatens the consumer-welfare oriented development of both bodies of law. This Feature describes the emerging paradox that rift has created: a body of consumer law at war with itself. The CFPB’s behavioral approach to consumer protection rejects revealed preference — the core economic link between consumer choice and economic welfare and the fundamental building block of the rational choice approach underlying antitrust law. This Feature analyzes the economic, legal, and political institutions underlying the potential rise of an incoherent consumer law and concludes that, unfortunately, there are several reasons to believe the intellectual rift shaping the development of antitrust and consumer protection will continue for some time.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 54

Keywords: above-cost discounting, abusive, act, comparative institutional analysis, credit cards, deceptive, disclosure, Dodd-Frank, economics, Elizabeth Warren, FTC, FTCA, Federal Trade Commission, market failures, Oren Bar-Gill, price theory, product bundling, Richard Cordray, Robert Bork, unfair practices

JEL Classification: D11, D12, D18, K21, K22, K23, L40, L41, L42, L43, L44

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Date posted: May 31, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Wright, Joshua D., The Antitrust/Consumer Protection Paradox: Two Policies at War with Each Other (May 31, 2012). Yale Law Journal, Forthcoming; George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 12-45. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2071434

Contact Information

Joshua D. Wright (Contact Author)
George Mason University School of Law ( email )
3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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