Antitrust and Competition

Antitrust and Labor

Does antitrust have a labor market problem? The last few years have seen growing interest among academic scholars in the causes and effects of concentration in US labor markets. Concurrently (and not unrelated), there has been an explosion of interest among policymakers and the general public in the impact that firms with market power may have on wages and working conditions. What do the data say regarding employer concentration and its effect on workers? Is antitrust in its current form equipped to address issues related to labor market power? In an attempt to answer these questions and more, we have decided to launch a series of articles on antitrust and the labor market.

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)

The Heirs of John D. Rockefeller Divest from Fossil Fuels, Slam Exxon Mobil as “Morally Reprehensible”

The Rockefeller Family Fund announced on Wednesday that it will be divesting entirely from fossil fuels, due to the industry’s stance on climate change.   The...

Stigler Center Talk: Robert Bilott on How to Protect Our Drinking Water

The lawyer who has been dubbed "DuPont's Worst Nightmare" will discuss the legal, regulatory, political, and scientific challenges of addressing unregulated chemical contaminants in drinking...

“The United States Has Lost the Will and Ability to Prosecute Top Corporate Executives”

Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jesse Eisinger speaks about executive impunity and the key to justice in America.   In January, Sen. Elizabeth Warren released a scathing indictment...

The True Price of Media Capture: “We’ll Be Living in a State of Perpetual Shock and Amazement”

Journalist and media critic Dean Starkman, author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark, speaks about capture in business media and explains how journalists missed the...

“There Is Regulatory Capture, But It Is By No Means Complete”

Kenneth J. Arrow, one of the most influential economists of the 20th century, reflects on the benefits of a single payer health care system,...

Can a CEO in Good Conscience Not Be a Crony Capitalist?

The above question — posed by Brucest1, a reader of this blog — is extremely important and deserves a fully articulated answer. Brucest1 seems to conclude that a...

Why This Blog?

There is an issue that– while extremely important today–receives little attention not only in the traditional media but also in the blogosphere, and academia:...

From Mancur Olson to Bernie Sanders

Professor George Stigler, the Nobel Laureate (1982) who in some ways invented the idea of “regulatory capture,” and Professor Mancur Olson, who developed some...

"Capture is Everywhere – It Happens at the Highest Levels of Our Democracy"

Armed with research on drug patents and a spate of internal emails from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, hedge fund manager Kyle...

Stigler Fellow of the Month: Beyond the Traditional Capture Theory

Harvard Business School's Rafael Di Tella is "Stigler Fellow of the Month". He talks about how any theory of regulation should consider the roles...

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When Milton Friedman Sided With Keynes Over Hayek on Inflation

In an excerpt from his book Samuelson Friedman: The Battle Over the Free Market, Nicholas Wapshott explores the disagreements between Friedman and...

Countering Employer Monopsony Power With Fundamental Labor Rights

Labor policies grounded in the fundamental rights of workers can reinforce the aims of a proposed labor antitrust agenda by limiting a...

Call for Applications: The Stigler Center Affiliate Fellowship

The Stigler Center is seeking candidates for its inaugural Affiliate Fellows program. The George...

How the Rise of Labor Market Power Helps Explain the Fall of US Manufacturing Employment

A new working paper explores the increase in labor market power in the US and what’s driving it. It shows manufacturing workers...

How Manufacturing’s Lobby Won and Lost its Political Influence

What happens when supporting capitalism hurts capitalists? Do business lobbies ever control the economy to the extent we think they do? The...

How Apple Locks Out the Competition with Its Digital Key

Apple’s efforts to dominate the contactless payments market and lock up the “digital key” space pose a profound threat to consumer privacy...

The Dawn of Antitrust and the Egalitarian Roots of the Sherman Act

While it isn’t particularly controversial that concentrated economic power was a legislative target of the Sherman Act, when read as a corollary...