Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century
Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz will deliver an opening address on the state of competition in the United States; former FTC Chairman William Kovacic will deliver remarks on the evolution of U.S. antitrust law. The morning session will feature two moderated panel discussions on the state of U.S. antitrust law. The afternoon session will feature a moderated panel discussion on monopsony power. Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen will offer closing remarks.
Specific topics to be discussed at the sessions include (but are not limited to):
- Whether the consumer welfare standard is adequate to deal with the competitive challenges of the new economy, and, if not, whether a new standard or standards should be considered? If so, what should the standard(s) be? In assessing consumer welfare, should the antitrust laws consider consumer surplus, total surplus, wealth maximization, utility maximization, or something else?
- Should antitrust law routinely, or ever, take into account additional public policy concerns raised by the size, wealth, or influence of corporations or individuals? Income and wealth distribution? The bargaining power of large entities? Labor and employment considerations? Other concerns? If so, how should those considerations be defined and evaluated and how should the antitrust laws make trade-offs between competing or multiple considerations?
- How accurate and relevant is recent research identifying increases in concentration across broadly defined economic sectors? Similarly, some recent studies suggest changes in price-cost margins, over time. How relevant is this research for current antitrust policy?
- What are the highest priority reforms that would improve U.S. antitrust enforcement policy?
- Are there material differences between antitrust/competition policy and law in the United States as compared to the rest of the world? What are the long term effects of such differences on U.S. companies and U.S. consumers?
- Should curbing the application of foreign competition laws to U.S. firms – where, for example, the application occurs in a manner inconsistent with generally accepted norms (e.g., OECD and ICN statements) – be a significant item for the U.S. antitrust agencies? If so, should the antitrust agencies seek the assistance of the U.S. trade and foreign policy agencies in preventing or rectifying such situations?
- Do the antitrust agencies (and the courts) exhibit insufficient or excessive attention to the error costs of more or less antitrust enforcement? Should the agencies (and the courts) (and do they) balance pro-competitive and anticompetitive effects across relevant markets and relevant affected persons in the analysis of mergers and conduct matters?
- What is the state and quality of the evidence of monopsony power in the economy? Are their sectors or markets in which the incidence of monopsony power is more likely and more prevalent?
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