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 […]

Facebook’s Refusal to Deal in Excellence

The emails released last week by a British parliamentary committee, in which Mark Zuckerberg can be read snooping on WhatsApp and approving a policy designed to cripple competition from Twitter, tell much about the shortcomings of antitrust policy today. The emails show that in 2013 Facebook cut off Twitter’s access to its users’ Facebook friend […]

On the Importance of the Concept of Monopoly in Introductory Economics

In everyday life economics presents itself to us first and foremost as a problem of distribution, not of output, not of what economists would call “allocative efficiency.” This pizza place is ripping you off. That employer is lowballing you. In our intuitive economics, higher prices mean someone is taking money out of our pockets and […]

The Impractical Consumer Welfare Standard

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the CPI/CCIA conference at Harvard Law School last month brought together establishment scholars from the left and right to consider the calls for radical antitrust reform emanating from the Open Markets Institute (OMI), calls that have captured the imagination of some sections of the press and the political […]