Joint Submission of Antitrust Economists, Legal Scholars, and Practitioners to the House Judiciary Committee on the State of Antitrust Law and Implications for Protecting Competition in Digital Markets

17 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2020

See all articles by Jonathan Barnett

Jonathan Barnett

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Michael R. Baye

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Economics & Public Policy

James C. Cooper

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Daniel A. Crane

University of Michigan Law School

Kenneth G. Elzinga

University of Virginia - Department of Economics

Richard Epstein

New York University School of Law

Deborah Garza

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Thomas W. Hazlett

Clemson University

Justin (Gus) Hurwitz

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

Benjamin Klein

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics; Compass Lexecon

Jonathan Klick

University of Pennsylvania Law School; Erasmus School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Thomas A. Lambert

University of Missouri - School of Law

Tad Lipsky

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School

Geoffrey A. Manne

International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE)

Scott E. Masten

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Maureen Ohlhausen

Baker Botts LLP

James Rill

Independent

Jan Rybnicek

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

Vernon L. Smith

Chapman University - Economic Science Institute; Chapman University School of Law

David Teece

Institute for Business Innovation

Robert Willig

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Joshua D. Wright

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

John M. Yun

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Date Written: May 18, 2020

Abstract

The modern antitrust debate has become characterized by sustained attacks on the integrity of antitrust institutions and by unsubstantiated dismissals of debate. This atmosphere has led to a variety of proposals for radical change to the antitrust laws and their enforcement that we believe are unsupported by the evidence, counterproductive to promoting competition and consumer welfare, and offered with an unwarranted degree of certainty. Many of these current proposals would (1) undermine the rule of law; (2) undo the healthy evolution of antitrust law in the courts over time; (3) require antitrust agencies to micromanage the economy by picking winners and losers; (4) abandon a focus on consumer welfare in favor of vague and politically-oriented goals; and (5) undermine successful American businesses and their competitiveness in the global economy at the worst-imaginable time.

The assertions about the state of antitrust law and policy that purportedly justify these radical changes are not supported by the evidence. A more accurate reading of the evidence supports the following view of the American economy and the role of antitrust law: (1) the American economy—including the digital sector—is competitive, innovative, and serves consumers well; (2) structural changes in the economy have resulted from increased competition; (3) lax antitrust enforcement has not allowed systemic increases in market power; (4) existing antitrust law is adequate for protecting competition in the modern economy; (5) history teaches that discarding the modern approach to antitrust would harm consumers; and (6) common sense reforms should be pursued to improve antitrust enforcement.

We believe open discussion of existing evidence is necessary to advance contemporary debates about the performance of antitrust institutions in the digital economy. We discuss in this letter various dimensions of antitrust law, economics, and institutions that have been the targets of radical reform proposals. The signatories to this letter hold a steadfast belief that antitrust institutions, including the courts, are up to the task of protecting competition, and that the federal antitrust laws as written are effective in accomplishing that goal. While many signatories have offered diverse proposals to improve the functioning of those institutions—a few of which we share in this letter—we hold the common view that the proposed radical reforms would make consumers worse off now and in the future by chilling efficient behavior and stymieing innovation.

Keywords: antitrust, antitrust law, antitrust agencies, antitrust enforcement, consumer welfare, market power

JEL Classification: K2, K21, K23, K29

Suggested Citation

Barnett, Jonathan and Baye, Michael Roy and Cooper, James C. and Crane, Daniel A. and Elzinga, Kenneth G. and Epstein, Richard and Garza, Deborah and Hazlett, Thomas W. and Hurwitz, Justin (Gus) and Klein, Benjamin and Klick, Jonathan and Lambert, Thomas Andrew and Lipsky, Tad and Manne, Geoffrey and Masten, Scott E. and Ohlhausen, Maureen and Rill, James and Rybnicek, Jan and Smith, Vernon L. and Teece, David J. and Willig, Robert D. and Wright, Joshua D. and Yun, John M., Joint Submission of Antitrust Economists, Legal Scholars, and Practitioners to the House Judiciary Committee on the State of Antitrust Law and Implications for Protecting Competition in Digital Markets (May 18, 2020). University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3604374 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3604374

Jonathan Barnett

University of Southern California Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Michael Roy Baye

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Economics & Public Policy ( email )

Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
812-855-2779 (Phone)
812-855-3354 (Fax)

James C. Cooper

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-9582 (Phone)

Daniel A. Crane

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States
734-615-2622 (Phone)

Kenneth G. Elzinga

University of Virginia - Department of Economics ( email )

PO Box 400182
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182
United States

Richard Epstein

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

Deborah Garza

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Thomas W. Hazlett

Clemson University ( email )

Clemson, SC 29634
United States
8646563430 (Phone)
8646564192 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://hazlett.people.clemson.edu/

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

Benjamin Klein

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics ( email )

1999 Avenue of the Stars
Suite 1150
Los Angeles, CA 90067-4628
United States
310-728-2025 (Phone)
310-728-2070 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.ucla.edu/people/Faculty/Klein.html

Compass Lexecon ( email )

1999 Avenue of the Stars
Suite 1150
Los Angeles, CA 90067-4628
United States
310-728-2025 (Phone)
310-728-2070 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.compasslexecon.com/professionals/bio?id=152

Jonathan Klick

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
2157463455 (Phone)

Erasmus School of Law ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

Thomas Andrew Lambert

University of Missouri - School of Law ( email )

Missouri Avenue & Conley Avenue
Columbia, MO MO 65211
United States

Tad Lipsky

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Geoffrey Manne

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

Scott E. Masten

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States
734-764-1389 (Phone)
815-572-8207 (Fax)

Maureen Ohlhausen

Baker Botts LLP ( email )

Washington, DC
United States

James Rill

Independent ( email )

Jan Rybnicek

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

700 13th St NW
Floor 10
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Vernon L. Smith

Chapman University - Economic Science Institute ( email )

One University Dr.
Orange, CA 92866
United States
714-628-2830 (Phone)

Chapman University School of Law ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States

David J. Teece

Institute for Business Innovation ( email )

F402 Haas School of Business, #1930
Berkeley, CA 94720-1930
United States
(510) 642-4041 (Phone)

Robert D. Willig

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

401 Robertson Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States
609-258-4843 (Phone)
609-258-5014 (Fax)

Joshua D. Wright

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

John M. Yun (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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