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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
The Curse of Bigness by Timothy Wu — why size matters
NOVEMBER 15, 2018 | Financial Times | by Rana Foroohar
The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age, by Timothy Wu, Columbia Global Reports, RRP$14.99, 170 pages.

The hero of the book is Louis Brandeis, the advocate, reformer and Supreme Court Justice who grew up around the mid-to-late 1800s in Louisville, a diverse and decentralised mid-sized American town that Brandeis praised as “idyllic” and free from the “curse of bigness”...... It was a place where small farmers, retailers, professionals and manufacturers all knew each other, worked together, and had the sort of shared moral framework that Adam Smith believed was a key to well-functioning markets.

But by the time Brandeis himself became a lawyer in Boston, oligarchs such as John D Rockefeller and JP Morgan were building empires more powerful than governments (indeed, they often had paid politicians in their pockets — President William McKinley actually acknowledged that Wall Street rather than Washington had control over the economy). Their growing ventures — like Morgan’s railroad monopoly or Rockefeller’s oil dynasty — were neither moral nor even efficient. But the tycoons ....had bought the legislatures, and there was no one powerful enough to reel them in. Brandeis took them on, via a case against Morgan’s New Haven Railway, and exposed the underside of monopoly power — cartel pricing, bribes to officials, accounting fraud and so on....Brandeis believed giant corporations tended to rob people of their humanity....This approach, which was brought into the mainstream by conflicted trust buster Teddy Roosevelt (who both loved and loathed power, but wanted to see corporations curbed by government) lasted through the 1960s. But with the rise of conservative Chicago School academics, in particular Robert Bork, the federal justice who turned the “consumer welfare” ideology of his mentor Aaron Director into a new antitrust philosophy with his book The Antitrust Paradox in 1978, the notion that too much corporate power alone was problematic was abandoned. Antitrust become technocratic and weak, pegged to the idea that as long as companies reduced prices for consumers, they could be as big as they wanted.

That has, of course, allowed any number of industries, from airlines to media to pharmaceuticals, to reach unprecedented levels of concentration.
antitrust  books  book_reviews  Chicago_School  corporate_concentration  FAANG  Rana_Foroohar  Robert_Bork  Tim_Wu 
december 2018 by jerryking
Opinion | Playing the Long Game for the Supreme Court - The New York Times
By Linda Greenhouse
Contributing Opinion Writer

Oct. 25, 2018

Consider two news items from last week that serve to illuminate the current reality. One was the revelation that the Heritage Foundation, a deeply conservative policy shop in Washington that has partnered with the Federalist Society in providing President Trump with judicial nominees, was running a secretive training academy for ideologically vetted judicial law clerks. The foundation suspended the program after the report.

The other was the confirmation hearing the Republicans of the Senate Judiciary Committee held (the Democratic senators boycotted it) for Allison Jones Rushing, the president’s nominee for a vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Ms. Rushing’s conservative credentials are impeccable, including ties to the Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious-right litigating organization. Ms. Rushing clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas and for Neil Gorsuch when he was a federal appeals court judge; those clerkships evidently accounted for the “incredible wealth of judicial experience” praised by one of her Judiciary Committee supporters, Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina. She graduated from law school 11 years ago. She is 36 years old.

How do those two developments relate to each other and to the legacy of the Bork battle? Following Judge Bork’s defeat, conservatives didn’t waste time licking their wounds. They got busy building the infrastructure necessary to accomplish their thwarted goals. The Federalist Society had been founded five years earlier by a handful of law students; Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia, then a law professor, both spoke at its first symposium.

The organization offered the perfect vehicle for cultivating a new generation of young conservative lawyers to enter the pipeline, serving as law clerks by the side of growing numbers of conservative judges and — like Justice Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, both former Supreme Court law clerks — becoming judges themselves.
conservatism  GOP  law  political_infrastructure  Robert_Bork  U.S._Supreme_Court  talent_pipelines  long-term 
october 2018 by jerryking

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