The Subcommittee on Antitrust, Administrative and Commercial Law of the House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing Wednesday noon on ““Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 6: Examining the Dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.” Competitive Enterprise Institute experts on technology policy point to the lack of good evidence for an orthodox antitrust case being made against any for the four firms and to the probability of the hearing devolving into political theater.

Read the full statement here.

CEI policy experts weigh in on recent antitrust hearings in Congress.

News

Op-eds, articles, and commentary from CEI experts on antitrust.

"Questions from the conservative members highlighted concerns about political bias in content moderation. Notably lacking from the political theater was the current U.S. standard for antitrust: consumer harm."

House Antitrust Hearing Discusses Everything but Antitrust Law

Jessica Melugin, National Review - July 31, 2020

"This post collects some observations from yesterday’s lengthy House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law hearings with the chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google."

Ryan Young, Open Market - July 30, 2020

"Large, innovative tech companies have been invaluable during the COVID-19 crisis, helping to ease the burden of millions of Americans and businesses under quarantine. But that won’t stop the House Antitrust Subcommittee from dragging the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google before it today."

Jessica Melugin, Open Market - July 29, 2020

"With antitrust intervention, politicians and bureaucrats do not merely push companies around; they also directly or indirectly dictate business models and can even inappropriately influence the trajectory of entire economic sectors in non-market directions. "

Jessica Melugin, Washington Examiner - July 21, 2020

"With antitrust intervention, politicians and bureaucrats do not merely push companies around; they also directly or indirectly dictate business models and can even inappropriately influence the trajectory of entire economic sectors in non-market directions. "

Wayne Crews, Forbes - July 21, 2020

"Antitrust officials and other “big tech” skeptics presumably like this tactic because their cases suffer in many other areas, such as demonstrable evidence of consumer harm through rising prices."

Patrick Hedger, Open Market - July 21, 2020

In the backdrop of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigating Apple, the European Union announced last week that it is pursuing two antitrust probes against the tech giant.

Jessica Melugin, Open Market - June 22, 2020

"Last month, Attorney General William Barr said, “valid questions have been raised on whether Section 230’s broad immunity is still necessary, at least in its current form.” But the attorney general and other critics should think twice before advocating for altering the crucial law."

Jessica Melugin, Washington Examiner - March 8, 2020

FAQ

Questions and answers on CEI's antitrust policy position.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) launched a new video, “Antitrust Explained,” disputing recent calls by politicians and academics to use antitrust laws and regulations to break up large companies. 


The video provides a history of antitrust policy in the United States and explains the negative impact these laws and regulations can have on the market, consumers, and our economy.

Antitrust, Explained

1. What is antitrust?


Today’s body of antitrust laws is the culmination of over one hundred years of unclear objectives, contradictory interpretations, and controversial court decisions. At its most basic, antitrust is regulation restricting certain business arrangements and decisions. In the U.S., the stated aim of antitrust law is preserving competition in the marketplace to the benefit of consumers.


2. Why was antitrust created and what’s its history in the U.S.?


The earliest impulses towards federal antitrust legislation grew out of dissatisfaction with the railroads of the late nineteenth century, which were themselves government granted monopolies. When the problematic results of this government-created uneven playing field began to surface, so did political alliances calling for corrective government action. To that end, rate discrimination was outlawed with the passage of The Interstate Commerce Act passed in 1887. By 1888, antitrust planks appeared in both of the major political party’s platforms..

Politicians and pundits across the ideological spectrum often call for greater competition in the marketplace. While their favored means vary widely, the view that current antitrust law is necessary to ensure competition, and should be applied more vigorously than it has in recent history, is common across the American political landscape. As this paper demonstrates, a rethink of the existing antitrust paradigm is long overdue.

Read the full paper here.

Ten Areas Where Antitrust Policy Can Move on from the Smokestack Era.

Web Memo

How Antitrust Regulation Hinders Innovation and Competition.

Regulators should use the law proactively to break up companies that are abusing their market power and restore a competitive market. The size of a company is a good guide as to when this should be done.

Interventionist

1

Antitrust law is unnecessary. Market processes routinely undermine monopolies—and attempts to create monopolies. Laws against “unfair competition” prevent property owners from experimenting with joint ventures and other innovations that can improve consumer welfare.

Free Market

3

Consumer Welfare

Abuse of market power is rare and dominant market positions can be achieved through delivering improvements in consumer welfare. Therefore, antitrust laws should be used not to break up companies that have grown big through successful competition, but to address instances of collusion, price fixing, or other anti-competitive behavior.

2

Few economic concepts elicit such strong reactions as that of monopoly, and the policy intended to address it—antitrust regulations (called competition policy in the European Union). Yet, both supporters and opponents of antitrust regulations agree on one fundamental point—that effective competition is vital to the American economy and the welfare of its citizens. However, they differ in how the law should encourage this. There are essentially three schools of thought regarding antitrust policy:

Antitrust Skeptic's Bibliography

Selected readings on antitrust.

Books and Chapters

Articles

Testimony

Policy Reports

For more than two decades, the willingness of policy makers to rethink the presumption that economic regulation automatically benefits consumers has driven the deregulation of the transportation, telecommunications, banking, and electricity sectors. Yet antitrust regulation enjoys continued esteem in both the business and popular press. High-profile antitrust enforcement actions increasingly constitute a business hazard for aggressive, successful firms, threatening to disrupt innovation and economic growth.

Since economic regulations—including antitrust—transfer wealth, they inevitably attract political entrepreneurs seeking entry or price regulation to hobble or preempt competition. Thus, a more skeptical interpretation of antitrust activism is that antitrust benefits political "entrepreneurs" rather than consumers. Such enforcement for competitive advantage often harms consumers by increasing prices and decreasing output by undermining little-understood efficiencies. Rethinking the true impact of these practices, from "collusion" to "predatory pricing" to "discrimination," should be a goal of policy makers.

Copyright 2020 © Competitive Enterprise Institute