ICLE Comments, Antitrust Law and the Consumer Welfare Standard

26 Pages Posted: 30 May 2019

See all articles by Dirk Auer

Dirk Auer

International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE)

Justin (Gus) Hurwitz

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - College of Law; International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE)

Geoffrey A. Manne

International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE)

Julian Morris

International Center for Law and Economics; Reason Foundation; IEA, Institute of Economic Affairs, U.K.

Kristian Stout

International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE)

Date Written: October 14, 2018

Abstract

Since the original Pitofsky hearings, much has fundamentally changed in the way the firms do businesses. Yet, despite these rapid and fundamental shifts in technology and behavior, we still face many of the same policy challenges as existed twenty years ago (and more). Innovation always yields both costs and benefits, meaning that some firms will face adverse effects as the environment in which they developed their business changes. Unfortunately, some antitrust observers use this reality as an opportunity to advocate for problematic changes in the underlying law.

These comments argue in favor or maintaining and strengthening the existing consumer welfare standard. It is a standard rooted in testable, empirical realities, and is designed to lead to reproducible outcomes that redound to the benefit of consumers. We argue that, to date, no better alternative has been proposed, and that enforcement agencies should tread lightly when considering alterations that would undermine the solid foundations of antitrust law. The unfortunate outcome of many calls to reform would be to return antitrust law to an era of politicized enforcement, lower consumer welfare, and greater uncertainty for firms operating in the economy.

Keywords: Antitrust, Antitrust Populism, Consumer Welfare Standard, FTC, FTC Reform

Suggested Citation

Auer, Dirk and Hurwitz, Justin (Gus) and Manne, Geoffrey and Morris, Julian and Stout, Kristian, ICLE Comments, Antitrust Law and the Consumer Welfare Standard (October 14, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3384397 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3384397

Dirk Auer

International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE) ( email )

5005 SW Meadows Rd.
Suite 300
Lake Oswego, OR 97035
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://laweconcenter.org/author/dirkauer/

Justin (Gus) Hurwitz

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - College of Law ( email )

103 McCollum Hall
P.O. Box 830902
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
United States

International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE) ( email )

5005 SW Meadows Rd.
Suite 300
Lake Oswego, OR 97035
United States

Geoffrey Manne (Contact Author)

International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE) ( email )

2117 NE Oregon St.
Suite 501
Portland, OR 97232
United States
503-770-0076 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.laweconcenter.org

Julian Morris

International Center for Law and Economics ( email )

2117 NE Oregon St. Ste 501
Portland, OR 97232
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://laweconcenter.org/author/julianmorriss/

Reason Foundation ( email )

United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.reason.org

IEA, Institute of Economic Affairs, U.K.

2 Lord North Street
London SW1P 3LB
United Kingdom

Kristian Stout

International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE) ( email )

2117 NE Oregon St.
Ste 501
Portland, OR Oregon 97232
United States
5037700076 (Phone)
5037700076 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.laweconcenter.org

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