ICLE Comments, The Current Landscape of Competition and Consumer Protection Law and Policy

FTC Project No. P181201

22 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 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

These comments were submitted to the FTC as part of its hearings on “Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century.” As part of our comments, we note the timeliness of the hearings, given that, despite the vast social benefits generated by companies operating in the digital economy, the ongoing economic transformation has stoked fears amongst members of the general public, the press, and policymakers. This transformation has led to calls for interventionist policies such as heightened antitrust enforcement, sector-specific regulation, and direct intervention against industry concentration.

We further note that there is insufficient evidence and, at best, ambivalent theory to support any of these proposed policies—and in the absence of a strong basis for adopting them, the proposed policies would do more harm than good. Among other things, economies of scale, economies of scope, net- work effects, and the like may bring about larger firms and more concentrated markets along with considerable consumer benefits. And new markets necessarily imply the consolidation of some firms and the exit of others, as competitors vie to come up with the winning paradigm. Against the backdrop of this evolutionary process, it is critical that authorities avoid knee-jerk reactions that may impair the long-term welfare of consumers and firms alike.

Our comment reviews some of the important findings which law and economics scholarship can bring to bear on competition and consumer protection enforcement in this space.

Keywords: Antitrust, Antitrust Populism, FTC, FTC Reform

Suggested Citation

Auer, Dirk and Hurwitz, Justin (Gus) and Manne, Geoffrey and Morris, Julian and Stout, Kristian, ICLE Comments, The Current Landscape of Competition and Consumer Protection Law and Policy (October 14, 2018). FTC Project No. P181201. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3384403 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3384403

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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