COMMENT: ICLE Comment on House Judiciary Antitrust Hearings

PORTLAND, Ore. (March 18, 2021) — As the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law convenes its third in a series of hearings on U.S. antitrust law, the International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE) offers the following comment from President and Founder Geoffrey Manne:

“These hearings take place amid a climate of panic about ‘digital monopolies.’ But while the key problem with a monopoly is dwindling output and investments, the exact opposite is taking place in digital markets. 

“Venture capital investments have increased significantly in recent years; innovative services, such as TikTok and Shopify, continue to emerge and challenge established players; the costs of many digital goods, including online and digital platform fees, are declining; and online privacy has improved significantly. 

“Current proposals to reform antitrust law are based on scant evidence that there is anything wrong. For example, while concentration may be rising across the economy, the evidence shows that competition is increasing as well. Vertical integration and ‘self-preferencing’ by dominant digital platforms are generally beneficial to consumers, and the assumption that digital markets must be uncompetitive because of the size of many large digital platforms is unsupported.

“In short, America’s antitrust laws have served consumers well. Congress should look skeptically at the flawed theories being offered to support increased antitrust intervention, and tread carefully before upending what has been a generally stable and economically well-informed body of law that has evolved over the course of more than a century.”

For more commentary on proposed changes to antitrust law, see ICLE’s short explainers on Rep. Ken Buck’s “Third Way,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s CALERA, and the consumer welfare standard, or see the Antitrust section of ICLE’s website.

If you would like to speak to Geoffrey Manne, you can contact him at [email protected] or (503) 780-8515.