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TOTM In an earlier post on the CARE Act, I highlighted the fact that the law would essentially immunize state laws regulating the distribution and sale . . .
In an earlier post on the CARE Act, I highlighted the fact that the law would essentially immunize state laws regulating the distribution and sale of beer, wine and liquor wholesalers from challenge under the Commerce clause and the Sherman Act. For more details on the CARE Act, see the earlier post, but the bottom line is that the CARE Act will put an end to successful challenges to anticompetitive state regulation protecting alcohol wholesalers such as the Costco v. Maleng or Granholm v. Heald. In this post, I want to focus on a recent empirical research project that I undertook with FTC lawyer and economist James Cooper evaluating both the competitive effects and social harms from these state regulations of alcohol distribution. For those who want to skip the background and get straight to the paper, here is the SSRN link to “State Regulation of Alcohol Distribution: The Effects of Post and Hold Laws on Output and Social Harms.” The paper has also been released as part of the FTC Bureau of Economics working paper series.
Read the full piece here.
TOTM The Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act — yes, the “CARE Act” — or HR 5034, is a piece of legislation aimed at supporting “State-based alcohol . . .
The Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act — yes, the “CARE Act” — or HR 5034, is a piece of legislation aimed at supporting “State-based alcohol regulation.” Recall the Supreme Court’s decision in Granholm v. Heald, which held that states could either allow in-state and out-of-state retailers to directly ship wine to consumers or could prohibit it for both, but couldn’t ban direct shipment only for out-of-state sellers while allowing in for in-state sellers. Most states thus far have opened up direct shipping laws to the benefit of consumers. While we occasionally criticize the Federal Trade Commission from time to time here at TOTM, its own research demonstrating that state regulation banning direct shipment and e-commerce harmed consumers is an excellent example of the potential for competition research and development impacting regulatory debates. Indeed, Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in Granholm cites the FTC study (not to mention co-blogger Mike Sykuta’s work here) a number of times. But in addition to direct shipment laws, there are a whole host of state laws regulating the sale and distribution of alcohol. Some of them have obviously pernicious competitive consequences for consumers as well as producers. The beneficiaries are the wholesalers who have successfully lobbied for the protection of the state. Fundamentally, the CARE Act aims to place these laws beyond the reach of any challenge under the Commerce Clause as per Granholm, the Sherman Act, or any other federal legislation. Whether the CARE Act has any ancillary social benefits is an important empirical question — but you can bet that the first-order effect of the law, if it were to go into effect, would be to increase beer, wine and liquor prices. More on the CARE Act and state regulation of alcoholic beverages below the fold.
Read the full piece here.
Scholarship Abstract The Twenty-first Amendment repealed prohibition, but granted the states broad power to regulate the distribution and sale of alcohol to consumers within their borders. . . .
The Twenty-first Amendment repealed prohibition, but granted the states broad power to regulate the distribution and sale of alcohol to consumers within their borders. Pursuant to this authority, states have established a complex web of regulations that limit the ability of beer, wine, and liquor producers to control the distribution of their product. From a consumer welfare perspective, one of the most potentially harmful state alcohol distribution regulations are “post and hold” laws (“PH laws”). PH laws require that alcohol distributors share future prices with rivals by “posting” them in advance, and then “hold” these prices for a specified period of time. Economic theory would suggest that PH laws reduce unilateral incentives for distributors to reduce prices and may facilitate tacit or explicit collusion, both to the detriment of consumers. Consistent with economic theory, we show that the PH laws reduce consumption by 2-8 percent. We also test whether PH laws provide offsetting benefits in the form of reducing a range of social harms associated with alcohol consumption. We find no evidence of such offsetting benefits. Taken together these results suggest that PH laws are socially harmful and result only in a wealth transfer from marginal alcohol consumers, who are unlikely to exert externalities on society, to wholesalers. These results also suggest a socially beneficial role for antitrust challenges to PH laws and similar anticompetitive state regulation. If states wish to reduce the social ills associated with drinking, our results suggest that increasing taxes and directly targeting social harms are superior policy instruments to PH laws.
Popular Media Lately, business could really use a friend. Regulatory panic has followed fresh on the heels of the financial meltdown. Grand political ideas that competing interest . . .
Lately, business could really use a friend. Regulatory panic has followed fresh on the heels of the financial meltdown. Grand political ideas that competing interest groups can smother in good times tend to burst out in post-bust regulatory orgies. Legislators tend to focus on reining in unbridled business with little concern for how laws might reduce the economic blessings business can confer. When reform’s fires rage, rhetoric rules, difficulties melt away and compromises suddenly materialize, wrapped in vague statutory language that grant broad discretion to regulatory agencies.
Read the full piece here.
TOTM Ask any conservative what the problem with America is today, and the answer you will get is government spending. But ask that same conservative, or . . .
Ask any conservative what the problem with America is today, and the answer you will get is government spending. But ask that same conservative, or any conservative for that matter, what to do about it, and the shoulders will inevitably shrug. Politicians, including conservatives, simply cannot be trusted when they get control of the purse strings. The problem is a familiar one in law and elsewhere — it is called the pre-commitment problem. Political leaders can promise to cut spending, but can’t resist reneging on the promise when in power; governments can promise not to bail out banks, but know that they must when the manure hits the fan. (For instance, Fannie Mae bonds explicitly disclaimed any government guarantee, but the bail out of Fannie Mae continues to cost us tens of billions of dollars.)
TOTM Let me say at the outset, some of my prior beliefs. First, I believe in the marketplace of ideas and think that more speech is . . .
Let me say at the outset, some of my prior beliefs. First, I believe in the marketplace of ideas and think that more speech is generally better than less speech. I believe the Founders shared this belief and enshrined it in the “no law” component of the First Amendment. I believe this is especially true for speech about politics. Why else would we allow the Nazis to march in Skokie? Other countries don’t let Nazi’s march because they (rightfully) view their ideas as repugnant. But we let them march. We do so because we are more confident in our citizens’ ability to know right from wrong, to look beyond rhetoric for substance, and to be able to weigh competing claims of truth. If we didn’t trust the people to make decisions based on all available information, if we didn’t trust the people to be able to filter speech according to its source and content, if we didn’t trust the people to know what is good for them, we wouldn’t let the Nazi’s march. But we let them march.
TOTM Well, it looks like Congress is going to attempt to enact the Senate’s health care bill using the reconciliation process. President Obama certainly suggested as . . .
Well, it looks like Congress is going to attempt to enact the Senate’s health care bill using the reconciliation process. President Obama certainly suggested as much in Thursday’s Health Care Summit, downplaying the significance of such a move and suggesting it may be necessary in order to “move forward.”
TOTM I’m sure it’s an honor just to be nominated. A recent opinion from Judge Posner cites our very own Josh Wright (Joshua D. Wright & . . .
I’m sure it’s an honor just to be nominated.
A recent opinion from Judge Posner cites our very own Josh Wright (Joshua D. Wright & Todd J. Zywicki, “Three Problematic Truths About the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act of 2009,” Lombard Street, Sept. 14, 2009, available here) (by the way, the essay has drawn a few comments, my favorite of which is definitely the one titled, “are you stupid or scumbags[?]”).
TOTM From Larry Ribstein: A few years later, Henry Butler and I wrote a book decrying SOX, and discussing the evidence that was accumulating against it, . . .
From Larry Ribstein:
A few years later, Henry Butler and I wrote a book decrying SOX, and discussing the evidence that was accumulating against it, as well as the SOX suit. Here’s an excerpt from the book abstract…