Antitrust and Competition

Corporate Governance

The system of formal and informal rules by which a company is governed. Corporate governance shapes more than just a given's company value - it dictates who controls the capital in the economy and so how this capital is being put the use. Corporate governance therefore affects and is affected by the degree of cronyism and rent-seeking in society.

Media

Effective media scrutiny can help mitigate many of the problems that lead to regulatory capture, by helping the polity to become informed and mobilized. But what are the conditions that create effective media scrutiny? And why do we observe so little of it in reality? “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” Justice Louis D. Brandeis

Regulatory Capture

When regulation protects narrow interests – usually the interests of the incumbent industry – at the expense of the public interest. Capture occurs in various ways: from straightforward bribes and threats, to more implicit quid pro quos such as the lucrative future employment (revolving door), to softer forms of cognitive/cultural capture. “... as a rule, regulation is acquired by the industry and is designed and operated primarily for its benefit.” George Stigler - The Theory of Economic Regulation (1971)

Special interest groups

Special interest groups: Groups with preferences that differ from the preferences of the median voter. There is nothing wrong with special interests forming groups per se; the trouble starts when they disproportionally sway policy in their favor. “...the great enemy of democracy is monopoly, in all its forms: gigantic corporations, trade associations and other agencies for price control, trade-union… Effectively organized functional groups possess tremendous power for exploiting the community at large and even sabotaging the system.” Henry Calvert Simons - A Positive Program for Laissez Faire (1934)

Reversing the “Resource Curse” with Foreign Corruption Regulation

Anti-corruption regulation originating in developed countries is effective in changing corporate behavior and has a positive economic impact on developing countries.

How Companies Spin Off Environmental Liabilities to Avoid Legal Obligations

Environmental externalities are vexing for corporate decision makers, but some companies have figured out a way to deal with them: a spinoff....

How Pfizer’s Vaccine Announcement Demonstrates the Political Power of Firms

By timing the disclosure of the results of its vaccine trial, Pfizer could have influenced the 2020 presidential election. This is worrisome...

The Useful Distraction of Section 230

How the red-herring of a politicized Section 230 and “conservative censorship” distracts from a bipartisan national privacy act.

Institution Man: How Corporations Came to Dominate the US Economy

In the first chapter of his book Transaction Man, Nicholas Lemann explores how Adolf Berle, author of The Modern Corporation and Private...

Kicking Around Section 230: Don’t Confuse Politics and Policymaking

Congressional hearings may make for good TV and viral social media posts, but reforming Section 230 would be more difficult than it...

Big Tech Platforms and Schumpeter’s Creative Destruction

Schumpeter’s indirect entry theory fits the average tendencies of competition in digital industries. When the model is added to standard assumptions and...

What Is Next for Section 230 Reform?

Section 230 has faced scrutiny from President Donald Trump, the FCC, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the US Congress, and even President-elect...

Corporate Responsibility and The Two Minds of Milton Friedman

Milton Friedman had two inconsistent minds: That of an economist and an ideologue. The view that maximizing profits without constraint is a...

Bethany McLean’s Weekend Reading List: Wirecard, Women in the Workplace, and Social Safety Nets

Corruption, lobbying, corporate malfeasance, and frauds: a weekly unconventional selection of must-read articles by investigative journalist Bethany McLean. 

Latest news

Reversing the “Resource Curse” with Foreign Corruption Regulation

Anti-corruption regulation originating in developed countries is effective in changing corporate behavior and has a positive economic impact on developing countries.

The Death of Hong Kong’s Rule of Law

Hong Kong's rule of law has suffered a fatal blow. With the national security law, the authoritarian regime has all that it...

President-Elect Joe Biden and the Real Lessons of DuPont

Simply talking corporate America into being more responsible is not enough. It may get corporations to talk the talk, but not to...

How Companies Spin Off Environmental Liabilities to Avoid Legal Obligations

Environmental externalities are vexing for corporate decision makers, but some companies have figured out a way to deal with them: a spinoff....

How Pfizer’s Vaccine Announcement Demonstrates the Political Power of Firms

By timing the disclosure of the results of its vaccine trial, Pfizer could have influenced the 2020 presidential election. This is worrisome...

The Useful Distraction of Section 230

How the red-herring of a politicized Section 230 and “conservative censorship” distracts from a bipartisan national privacy act.

Institution Man: How Corporations Came to Dominate the US Economy

In the first chapter of his book Transaction Man, Nicholas Lemann explores how Adolf Berle, author of The Modern Corporation and Private...