Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Price Discrimination and Welfare

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Barry Nalebuff (Yale - School of Management) addresses Price Discrimination and Welfare.

ABSTRACT: Elhauge (2009) provides a wide-ranging article that is impressive both in its clarity and its holistic attack on the practice of bundling and tying. In this commentary, I will focus my attention on one aspect of his presentation, namely the effect of price discrimination via metering and tying on consumer welfare and total welfare.

Elhauge makes the claim that we should not suppose that the total welfare effects of price discrimination are positive. Even if they are, he suggests that this perspective is too narrow; a price-discriminating monopolist will make more money and so may incur greater ex ante costs to secure its market position. And if total welfare still rises after taking these costs into account, Elhauge makes the further argument that antitrust is and should be focused on consumer welfare, not total welfare. In that domain, the presumption should be that price discrimination lowers consumer welfare.

November 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 20, 2010 Call for Papers Deadline Approaching for The Next Generation of Antitrust Scholarship Conference at NYU

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Call for Papers

The Next Generation of Antitrust Scholarship Conference
NYU School of Law
January 29, 2010
Co-sponsored by NYU School of Law, American Association of Law Schools – Antitrust and Trade Regulation Section and the American Bar Association – Antitrust Section


Conference Co-organizers
Harry First – NYU School of Law
Ilene Knable Gotts – Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
Edward Cavanaugh – St. John’s School of Law
D. Daniel Sokol – University of Florida Law Levin College of Law

This conference is the first ever conference for the Next Generation of Antitrust Scholars.  Much has changed in both the law and economic theory of antitrust in the past 30 years.  The purpose of this event is to convene a conference of the next generation of antitrust law professors (people who started their teaching career in or after 2000) and provide them an opportunity to present their latest research.  Senior antitrust scholars and practitioners in the field will comment on the papers. 

Submissions are open to professors around the world.  Papers will be accepted based upon the highest scores given to the 1,000-2,000 word abstract or full article submitted. Speakers who are accepted by an abstract must have a completed draft of the paper ready two weeks before the conference.

The conference organizers will not pay for any expenses for speakers or discussants.  Refreshments at the conference, however, will be provided free of charge.

Please send abstracts of papers or completed drafts to nyuantitrustconference2010@gmail.com.  Please email any questions about the conference to nyuantitrustconference2010@gmail.com.

The deadline for submissions is November 20, 2009.  Participants will be notified by November 30, 2009.


November 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The U.S. Auto Industry Under Duress: Fit, or Finished?

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

John E. Kwoka, Jr., Northeastern University - Econ asks The U.S. Auto Industry Under Duress: Fit, or Finished?

ABSTRACT: In the latter half of the 20th century, the U.S. auto industry truly lost its way. It squandered its competitive advantage, allowed itself to become vulnerable to forces beyond its control, lost its markets one by one to foreign rivals, and stared into the abyss of its complete demise. Only U.S. government intervention on a previously unimaginable scale prevented that outcome. A great debate emerged over the causes of the auto industry’s collapse, the rationale for government intervention, and the effects of competition between government owned and private auto companies. That debate was leapfrogged by events that forced decisions about intervention and ownership.

But events have not obviated the need for examining these questions, since the U.S. government is now even more deeply involved in the U.S. auto industry. In addition, this experience may serve as a model or argument for other troubled sectors. This paper seeks to cast light on some of the issues raised by government intervention.

November 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 16, 2009

The AT&T Case: A Personal View

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Tom Kauper (Michigan Law) has an interesting article on The AT&T Case: A Personal View.

ABSTRACT: The AT&T case, asserting that the company had acted in violation of the antitrust laws and seeking its dissolution, was filed under my direction in 1974, and culminated in a consent decree that brought the largest dissolution in American antitrust history.

From the outset the case presented a host of institutional, regulatory, procedural, and substantive issues that continue to plague antitrust enforcement agencies, courts, and economic policy makers both here and abroad. It also had the elements of a soap opera, with a degree of suspense, a bit of anger, some embarrassment, a lot of courage, a large cast of characters, intra-agency battling, and leaks to reporters. This brief paper addresses the case in personal terms, with an emphasis on why and how the case was filed, along with an assessment of its consequences, with some history and a few anecdotes thrown in.

November 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Of Myths and Evidence: An Analysis of 40 U.S. Cases for Countries Considering a Private Right of Action for Competition Law Violations

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Robert H. Lande, University of Baltimore - School of Law and Joshua P. Davis, University of San Francisco - School of Law explain Of Myths and Evidence: An Analysis of 40 U.S. Cases for Countries Considering a Private Right of Action for Competition Law Violations.

ABSTRACT: This article assesses some of the benefits of private enforcement of the United States antitrust laws by analyzing forty large recent, successful private cases. It should help in assessing the desirability and efficacy of private enforcement - information that may prove useful to jurisdictions contemplating a private right of action for competition cases.

November 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Optimal Merger Policy: Enforcement vs. Deterrence

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Lars Sørgard, Norwegian Competition Authority has a paper on Optimal Merger Policy: Enforcement vs. Deterrence.

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this article is to investigate the optimal merger policy in the presence of deterrence as of well as of type I and type II errors. We consider the optimal number of merger investigations, both when the competition authorities commit to a particular activity level and when they do not commit. If they commit, it is shown that the low quality of final decisions may lead to the deterrence of mergers that would have been welfare improving. On the other hand, when potential mergers with the largest negative impact on welfare are deterred, we find that the merger investigations themselves might have a negative impact on welfare (enforcement effect). It is shown that the absence of commitment can lead to a less active merger policy and lower welfare than what is the case if the authority did commit to a certain level of activity. The results have important implications for how one should interpret the empirical studies of the effects of merger enforcement.

November 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Can Bundled Discounting Increase Consumer Prices Without Excluding Rivals?

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Daniel Crane (University of Michigan) & Josh Wright (George Mason University School of Law) ask Can Bundled Discounting Increase Consumer Prices Without Excluding Rivals?

ABSTRACT: Since we abhor suspense, we will quickly answer the question our title poses: No. As a general matter, bundled discounting schemes lower prices to consumers unless they are predatory—that is to say, unless they exclude rivals and thereby permit the bundled discounter to price free of competitive restraint. The corollary of this observation is that bundled discounting is generally pro-competitive and pro-consumer and should only be condemned when it is capable of excluding rivals. We pose and answer this question because it is at the heart of Section VI of Professor Elhauge’s provocative draft article which is the subject of this symposium.

November 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Competition Policy and the Economic Crisis

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Philip Lowe (European Commission, DG Competition) analyzes Competition Policy and the Economic Crisis.

ABSTRACT: The Commission stands firm on the importance of maintaining the competition rules and a policy of robust competition policy enforcement. I propose to discuss in this article first why we believe that competition policy is one of the tools we need to deploy to help maintain the integrity of the EU single market and to help our economies out of the crisis, and then to examine, concretely, how the crisis has affected and is affecting our approach to enforcing the EC State aid rules, as well as the EC antitrust and merger control rules.

November 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Justice Department and USDA Set Dates for Workshops to Explore Competition and Regulatory Issues in The Agriculture Industry

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

According to the DOJ press release:

The Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today the dates and locations of joint public workshops that will explore competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The workshops, which were first announced by Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Aug. 5, 2009, are the first joint Department of Justice/USDA workshops ever to be held to discuss competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The all-day workshops, which will begin in March 2010, will be held in Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Washington, D.C. and Wisconsin.

The goals of the workshops are to promote dialogue among interested parties and foster learning with respect to the appropriate legal and economic analyses of these issues, as well as to listen to and learn from parties with experience in the agriculture sector.

The current schedule for the workshops is as follows:

March 12, 2010 – Issues of Concern to Farmers – Ankeny, Iowa

This event will serve as an introduction to the series of workshops, but also will focus specifically on issues facing crop farmers. Specific areas of focus may include seed technology, vertical integration, market transparency and buyer power.
FFA Enrichment Center
1055 Southwest Prairie Trail Parkway
Ankeny, Iowa


May 21, 2010Poultry Industry – Normal, Ala.

Specific areas of focus may include production contracts in the poultry industry, concentration and buyer power.
Alabama A&M University
Auditorium, James I. Dawson Cooperative Extension Building
4900 Meridian St.
Normal, Ala.


June 7, 2010Dairy Industry – Madison, Wisc.

Specific areas of focus may include concentration, marketplace transparency and vertical integration in the dairy industry.
University of Wisconsin
Great Hall, Memorial Union
800 Langdon St.
Madison, Wisc.


Aug. 26, 2010Livestock Industry – Fort Collins, Colo.

Specific areas of focus will address beef, hog and other animal sectors and may include enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act and concentration.
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colo.


Dec. 8, 2010Margins – Washington, D.C.

This workshop will look at the discrepancies between the prices received by farmers and the prices paid by consumers. As a concluding event, discussions from previous workshops will be incorporated into the analysis of agriculture markets nationally.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Jefferson Auditorium
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C.


Each workshop may feature keynote speakers, general expert panels, and break-out panels that will address more narrowly-focused issues. At each workshop, the public will have an opportunity to ask questions and provide comments.

The attendance and participation of the public is encouraged throughout the series of workshops. With the goals of generating further dialogue and understanding the issues, the workshops will involve farmers, ranchers, processors, consumer groups, agribusinesses, government officials and academics. This collection of stakeholders will create a forum for discussion and will ensure various industry perspectives.

The Department of Justice and USDA are also asking for comments in advance of the workshops. Interested parties should submit written comments in both paper and electronic form to the Department of Justice no later than Dec. 31, 2009. All comments received will be publicly posted. Two paper copies should be addressed to the Legal Policy Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 450 5th Street, NW, Suite 11700, Washington, D.C. 20001. The electronic version of each comment should be submitted to agriculturalworkshops@usdoj.gov.

Additional updates and information, including agendas and speakers, will be posted on the Antitrust Division's events website at www.usdoj.gov/atr/events.htm.

November 15, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)