The Big and the Bad

That firm size tells us little about propensity to innovate is nicely illustrated by contrasting AT&T and Verizon with Amazon. AT&T and Verizon have rightly been criticized for what looks like intentional underinvestment in broadband, made possible by their oligopoly power. Comes now Amazon, planning to invest billions to provide global broadband access via satellite, […]

Boeing Shows Us Why Prices Are Too Important for Private Enterprise to Decide Alone

The sad tale of Boeing’s pricing of essential safety features for the 737 MAX 8 as product options is an object lesson in why pricing should always be a public-private project. Many firms engage in price discrimination: charging different prices for the same product. The ideal way to do that is to generate reliable information […]

Amazon, MFNs, and Second-Best Antitrust

Antitrust advocates are hailing Amazon’s decision to stop requiring third-party sellers to offer products on Amazon at the lowest prices they charge for their products anywhere. But the decision is decidedly second-best: consumers would be much better off were government to regulate Amazon’s fees, and allow the platform to keep those “most-favored-nation” (MFN) rules. The […]

When the Great Progressive Hope Is . . . Neoliberalism

The striking thing about Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to break up big tech is that it fits the Neoliberal deregulatory playbook to a T. From about the mid-1930s to the mid-1970s, roughly a quarter of American economic output, in industries ranging from air travel to natural gas, was subject to a form of regulation that grew […]

Back to Atomic Laissez Faire

Lest we forget that deregulation was a project of the left, not just the right, here is Marxist legal historian Morton Horwitz in 1984: Almost nothing in the antitrust debates supports what would soon become Theodore Roosevelt’s new conservative distinction between “good trusts” and “bad.” Roosevelt was operating under a newly emerging view that corporate […]

Bigness and Farce

The key point Brandeis missed, says McCraw, was that while in all fields tighter forms of combination were attempted, their potential success ultimately depended on the technological and managerial limitations and possibilities uniquely inherent in each particular industry. In some industries, large, tight combinations had tremendous potential; in others, they were bound to fail under […]