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.


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)

Three Steps the Biden Administration Should Take to Tackle America’s Monopoly Problem

The Biden Administration can revive federal antimonopoly enforcement after 40 years of little action, even when faced with congressional opposition. Here’s how. 

What the Department of Justice Can Learn from the European Union’s Antitrust Investigations Into Google

The Department of Justice has opened antitrust investigations into Google's (alleged) attempt to monopolize online advertising. While the case recycles old grievances...

The Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee Has Charted a Course for President-Elect Biden: He Should Follow It

Real antitrust reform of the kind offered by the Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee is needed to assist enforcers in precisely the types of...

Bethany McLean’s Weekend Reading List: Joe Biden, Private Equity, and Addictive Social Media

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

Wirecard Scandal: When All Lines of Defense Against Corporate Fraud Fail

Scandals such as Wirecard can destroy investor trust in capital markets working fairly and with integrity. A new policy brief commissioned by...

We Need More Research on Corporate Corruption

The last decade has seen a continuous drumbeat of revelations of corporate corruption and the current economic crisis is sure to reveal...

It is Not Just Small Investors Who Will Be Silenced Thanks to SEC’s New Rules

Shareholder proposals are one of the most effective forms of shareholder voice in corporate America. It is one of the main channels...

The Trump FCC Can’t and Shouldn’t Be the Internet Speech Police

The debate over whether Section 230 needs to be updated is an important one. But the proper venue for that debate is...

Bethany McLean’s Weekend Reading List: The Fed, the Google Antitrust Case, and Covid Bankruptcies

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

Digital Platforms Should Contribute to the Enforcement of Sector-Specific Regulations

Tech companies often rely on the European Union’s outdated e-Commerce Directive to oppose and undermine new laws and regulations. The EU should...

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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.

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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...