Restoring Competition in the United States

By: Bill Baer, Jonathan B. Baker, Michael Kades, Fiona M. Scott Morton, Nancy L. Rose, Carl Shapiro & Tim Wu (ProMarket)

Excessive market power plagues the U.S. economy.1 Market power increases the cost of goods and services for consumers, depresses prices and wages for those who supply dominant firms, and retards innovation, while creating profits that flow disproportionately to the wealthiest in society. Worse, the economically least-advantaged in society and those from historically disadvantaged groups are more likely to be the victims of market power and have the least ability to avoid its consequences. This dynamic exacerbates inequality and compounds the harms of structural racism.

Antitrust enforcement has failed to prevent increased market power across the economy for a variety of reasons. Courts have made a series of policy judgments that favors nonintervention, leading to anticompetitive consolidation and conduct escaping condemnation. Congress has, over the past decade, failed to provide federal antitrust enforcers the resources to effectively enforce the laws. Too often, the agencies have been risk averse in case selection and failed to adopt an assertive enforcement agenda. Finally, agencies throughout the federal government have too frequently missed opportunities to protect or promote competition in their domains.

The incoming administration and the 117th Congress present an important opportunity to rethink fundamental questions surrounding U.S. antitrust laws and their enforcement. We need a new, bolder vision for competition policy. Antitrust enforcement must optimize deterrence, and promoting competition must be a priority across the government, not just for antitrust enforcers…

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