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Lina Khan: ‘This isn’t just about antitrust. It’s about values’
March 29, 2019 | Financial Times | by Rana Foroohar.

Lina Khan is the legal wunderkind reshaping the global debate over competition and corporate power......While still a student at Yale Law School, she wrote a paper, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox”, which was published in the school’s influential journal..... hit a nerve at a time when the overweening power of the Big Tech companies, from Facebook to Google to Amazon, is rising up the agenda......For roughly four decades, antitrust scholars — taking their lead from Robert Bork’s 1978 book The Antitrust Paradox — have pegged their definitions of monopoly power to short-term price effects; so if Amazon is making prices lower for consumers, the market must be working effectively.....Khan made the case that this interpretation of US antitrust law, meant to regulate competition and curb monopolistic practices, is utterly unsuited to the architecture of the modern economy.....Khan's counterargument: that it doesn’t matter if companies such as Amazon are making things cheaper in dollars if they are using predatory pricing strategies to dominate multiple industries and choke off competition and choice.....Speaking to hedge funds and banks during her research, Khan found that they were valuing Amazon and its growth potential in a way that signified monopoly power..." I’m interested in imbalances in market power and how they manifest. That’s something you can see not just in tech but across many industries,” says Khan, who has written sharp pieces on monopoly power in areas as diverse as airlines and agriculture. " Khan, like many in her cohort, believes otherwise. “If markets are leading us in directions that we, as a democratic society, decide are not compatible with our vision of liberty or democracy, it is incumbent upon government to do something.” Lina Khan has had a stint as a legal fellow at the Federal Trade Commission, consulted with EU officials, influenced competition policy in India, brainstormed ideas with presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren and — recently joined the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law. The 2008 financial crisis she thinks “about markets, and the government’s response to them, and certain forms of intervention that they do take, and that they don’t take”.....Khan, Lynn and others including the Columbia academic Tim Wu have developed and popularised the “new Brandeis” school of antitrust regulation, hearkening back to the era in which Louis Brandeis, the “people’s lawyer”, took on oligarchs such as John D Rockefeller and JP Morgan.....Lina sees Amazon as not just a discount retailer but as a marketing platform, delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, auction house, publisher and so on, and to understand just how ill-equipped current antitrust law was to deal with such a multi-faceted entity......a Columbia Law Review paper out in May 2019 will explores the case for separating the ownership of technology platforms from the commercial activity they host, so that Big Tech firms cannot both run a dominant marketplace and compete on it. via a host of old cases — from railroad antitrust suits to the separation of merchant banking and the ownership of commodities — to argue that “if you are a form of infrastructure, then you shouldn’t be able to compete with all the businesses dependent on your infrastructure”....“The new Brandeis movement isn’t just about antitrust,” .... Rather, it is about values. “Laws reflect values,” she says. “Antitrust laws used to reflect one set of values, and then there was a change in values that led us to a very different place.”

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21st._century  Amazon  antitrust  Big_Tech  digital_economy  financial_crises  FTC  lawyers  Lina_Khan  monopolies  multifaceted  paradoxes  platforms  policymakers  predatory_practices  Rana_Foroohar  regulators  Robert_Bork  Tim_Wu  wunderkind  Yale  values  value_judgements 
march 2019 by jerryking
Regulatory showdown awaits for Big Tech — but who gets the job?
March 1, 2019 | Financial Times | Richard Waters.

Wanted: an antitrust enforcer to lead the charge against Big Tech. Must be able to invent novel applications of competition theory to digital markets.

There is a growing list of candidates for this job — but it isn’t at all clear who is best placed to jump into the hot seat.

The US Federal Trade Commission has just volunteered itself, setting up a task force to examine the dominant tech companies. Among the agency’s promises: it will consider new theories of harm that until now haven’t made it out of academia, and it won’t hesitate to push for the court-ordered unwinding of past mergers if it turns out they’re hurting competition.

One problem for competition regulators in the US is that they have taken too narrow a view of their roles, according to Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School. They are concerned almost exclusively with protecting consumers from higher prices — something that doesn’t apply to “free” (advertising-supported) internet services. In his latest book, The Curse of Bigness, Wu calls for a return to a much broader interpretation of the US antitrust statutes, treating market concentration itself as an evil needing be to rectified.
antitrust  Big_Tech  books  FTC  regulation  regulators  Richard_Waters  Tim_Wu 
march 2019 by jerryking
Big Tech in hiring spree for looming antitrust battles | Financial Times
Kiran Stacey in Washington DECEMBER 23, 2018 Print this page6
Big technology and telecoms companies have embarked on a hiring spree of former antitrust officials as their industries gear up for what experts warn could be an “existential” battle over whether they should be broken up.

In the last few months, Facebook, Amazon and AT&T have all hired senior antitrust officials from the US Department of Justice as they confront a new generation of regulators who are interested in preventing concentrations of economic power......Many of the biggest US technology companies have endured a difficult year, facing allegations of not protecting customer data, failing to prevent Russian interference in American democracy and showing political bias.

In response, several have beefed up their lobbying operations in Washington as they look to engage more with politicians, having previously preferred to operate under the radar. .....Experts say the hirings reflect a growing belief that competition policy could become the next significant political battleground....The European Commission has investigated US technology companies for alleged anti-competitive behaviour. Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, is bringing cases against Google and is looking into Amazon.

Such cases have been more difficult to pursue in the US, where the law is focused more on whether anti-competitive behaviour is keeping prices artificially high.

A group of younger progressive regulators and politicians have argued in recent years, however, that technology companies that give their services away for free but dominate their markets should come in for as much attention.....Rohit Chopra, a Federal Trade Commissioner in his mid-30s, for example, recently hired Lina Khan, a 29-year-old policy thinker who has argued that large technology companies can both bring prices down and be harmful to society in general.
Amazon  antitrust  AT&T  Big_Tech  competition_policy  corporate_concentration  Department_of_Justice  FAANG  Facebook  FTC  hiring  Lina_Khan  lawyers  lobbying  market_power  market_concentration  monopolies  platforms  regulation  regulators  revolving_door  under_the_radar 
december 2018 by jerryking
Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea - The New York Times
By David Streitfeld
Sept. 7, 2018

....... Ms. Khan wrote, that once-robust monopoly laws have been marginalized, Amazon is consequently able to amass so much structural power that let it exert increasing control over many parts of the economy. Amazon has so much data on so many customers, it is so willing to forgo profits, it is so aggressive and has so many advantages from its shipping and warehouse infrastructure that it exerts an influence much broader than its market share. It resembles the all-powerful railroads of the Progressive Era, .......The F.T.C. is holding a series of hearings this fall, the first of their type since 1995, on whether a changing economy requires changing enforcement attitudes.

The hearings will begin on Sept. 13 at Georgetown University Law Center. Two panels will debate whether antitrust should keep its narrow focus or, as Ms. Khan urges, expand its range.

“Ideas and assumptions that it was heretical to question are now openly being contested,” she said. “We’re finally beginning to examine how antitrust laws, which were rooted in deep suspicion of concentrated private power, now often promote it.”........Her Yale Law Journal paper argued that monopoly regulators who focus on consumer prices are thinking too short-term. In Ms. Khan’s view, a company like Amazon — one that sells things, competes against others selling things, and owns the platform where the deals are done — has an inherent advantage that undermines fair competition. “The long-term interests of consumers include product quality, variety and innovation — factors best promoted through both a robust competitive process and open markets,” she wrote.

The issue Ms. Khan’s article really brought to the fore is this: Do we trust Amazon, or any large company, to create our future?........ “It’s so much easier to teach public policy to people who already know how to write than teach writing to public policy experts,” said Mr. Lynn, a former journalist.

Ms. Khan wrote about industry consolidation and monopolistic practices for Washington publications that specialize in policy, went to Yale Law School, published her Amazon paper and then came back to Washington last year, just as interest was starting to swell in her work.... the F.T.C. needs to bring back a tool buried in its toolbox: its ability to make rules......“Amazon is not the problem — the state of the law is the problem, and Amazon depicts that in an elegant way,” she said......“could make sense” to treat Amazon’s e-commerce operation like a bridge, highway, port, power grid or telephone network — all of which are required to allow access to their infrastructure on a nondiscriminatory basis.
Amazon  antitrust  breakthroughs  FTC  heretical  ideas  lawyers  Lina_Khan  monopolies  platforms  retailers  regulators  reframing  Yale 
september 2018 by jerryking
Conglomerates Didn’t Die. They Look Like Amazon. - The New York Times
Andrew Ross Sorkin
DEALBOOK JUNE 19, 2017

Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods re-opens the debate about conglomerates which supposed to be dead, a relic of a bygone era of corporate America as investors supposedly want smaller, nimbler, more focused companies......Amazon is just one of several digital-economy conglomerates. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is another. Facebook is quickly becoming a conglomerate, too...... today’s tech-enabled conglomerates, are spending, and often losing, tens of billions of dollars annually on all sorts of projects and acquisitions that may or may not turn out to be successful. But investors are seemingly willing to give these new behemoths a free pass in the name of growth and innovation — until they aren’t.

If there is any lesson from the last breed of industrial conglomerates, it is that there is a natural life cycle to most of them....When it comes to Amazon (or Alphabet, or any of the new conglomerates), the question is whether there is something fundamentally different about these businesses given their grounding in digital information — especially as they expand into complex brick-and-mortar operations like upscale supermarkets.

In an age of big data and artificial intelligence, are businesses that look disparate really similar? And can one company’s leadership really oversee so many different businesses? When does it become too big to manage?...a recent article in the Yale Law Journal made a compelling case that Amazon has built perhaps the ultimate economic mousetrap — one impervious to the natural life cycle of a conglomerate, but one that might ultimately prove to be anticompetitive.

The author, Lina M. Khan, a Yale Law student who has written about antitrust law and competition policy, argued that Amazon had created a “platform market” and can use its size and scale to subsidize its entrance into new businesses through predatory pricing.....The economics of platform markets create incentives for a company to pursue growth over profits,.....Amazon’s role as both a distributor and cloud provider for many of its competitors gives it an unfair advantage. “This dual role also enables a platform to exploit information collected on companies using its services to undermine them as competitors,”.....Jeff Bezos, is clear. The man who is assembling the 21st century’s most fearsome new conglomerate once explained his view of competition this way: “Your margin is my opportunity.”
conglomerates  Andrew_Sorkin  Jeff_Bezos  Amazon  GE  Jeff_Immelt  unfair_advantages  Whole_Foods  Silicon_Valley  digital_economy  Alphabet  Facebook  lessons_learned  Yale  Charles_Munger  antitrust  competition  Berkshire_Hathaway  platforms  predatory_practices  diversification  FTC  margins  staying_hungry  life_cycle  Lina_Khan  competition_policy 
june 2017 by jerryking
Schmidt Defends Google in Hearing - WSJ.com
Sept. 22, 2011 | WSJ | By THOMAS CATAN And SIOBHAN HUGHES
Google  Eric_Schmidt  antitrust  FTC 
september 2011 by jerryking
Crackdown on pomegranate claims - The Globe and Mail
JEFF GRAY
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Sep. 27, 2010
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accused POM Wonderful LLC and
some affiliated companies on Monday of using “deceptive acts and
practices” and of making false health claims that are not backed up by
science.

POM Wonderful – which says it has spent more than $34-million (U.S.) on
scientific tests to back up its claims – calls the allegations
“completely unwarranted.”

The dispute comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the FTC
are turning up the heat on food advertising that boasts of health
benefits in response to concerns that too many companies are marketing
food as medicine.
FTC  Lynda_Resnick  juices  pomegranates  beverages 
september 2010 by jerryking

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