ICLE on Predictions About Major Mergers

RealClearPolicy View Original Source

RealClearPolicy – ICLE’s white paper on “doomsday mergers” was cited in a column by Robert Bork Jr. that appeared in  RealClearPolicy. You can read full piece here.

With the economy and human lives at stake, we should ask just how good are the prognostications of progressive antitrusters? Now, thanks to a new study from the International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE), we have a scorecard of their forecasting acumen. ICLE found:

  • When Amazon purchased Whole Foods in 2017, Lina Khan — then warming up in the academic and policy bullpen — warned this acquisition “would allow Amazon to potentially thwart future innovations.” Thank goodness for that “potentially” qualification! In 2023, the stocks of many rival retail companies significantly outperform Amazon’s. ICLE reports that Whole Foods’ market share has not meaningfully increased since its acquisition by Amazon.
  • When Anheuser-Busch InBev put forward a deal in 2016 to acquire SABMiller, progressive antitrusters told us it would “eliminate competition” in brewing, with “devastating” effects on the craft-brewing industry. In the following four years, the U.S. market saw an 11% increase in the number of craft brewers, while market concentration by the four largest breweries dropped from 90% to 68.6%.
  • Khan has particularly harped on Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012, calling it a “killer acquisition.” Now known as Meta, the company’s stock has fallen by half, while it bleeds users to newer, hipper platforms.
  • Google’s 2019 purchase of Fitbit prompted progressive senators to warn that “Fitbit’s consumer data to Google could further diminish the ability of companies to compete with Google in … ad technology markets.” Did that happen? Google’s share of online advertising spending has declined from 34.7% to 28.8%. Fitbit’s share of the smartwatch market has fallen from 5.7% to 3.8%. Google does not use Fitbit data to target Google Ads.

I could cite other examples from ICLE, but this is starting to feel like clubbing baby seals.