In the 1970s, antitrust law was a miasma of nebulous social and economic rulings. Companies rarely knew with certainty beforehand whether a merger or acquisition would run afoul of federal enforcement. Then came Judge Robert Bork.
Beginning with his book, The Antitrust Paradox, he articulated and defended a clear, objective standard that would become the guiding doctrine in U.S. antitrust enforcement. Bork argued that the highest focus of antitrust enforcement actions and rulings should be the effects on the consumer, rather than the myriad and less quantifiable effects on other corporate actors. Rather than looking at the size and structure of the market as an end, antitrust policy became focused almost entirely on the question “What makes consumers better off?”- commonly known as the Consumer Welfare Standard.
But today, with the rise of trillion-dollar corporations, “Big Tech,” and a growing concern that companies are no longer acting in the consumer interest, a 1970’s style of antitrust fever has begun returning to Washington.
Even with the U.S. the most politically divided it has been in modern history, leadership in both parties are calling for stricter antitrust enforcement actions. Republican President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice has just sued Google, alleging that the company’s famous search engine is a monopoly. Meanwhile, the House Committee on the Judiciary chaired by Democrat Jerrold Nadler has issued a report calling for sweeping changes to reform antitrust law.
So what does this all mean for consumers? Should the Consumer Welfare Standard be discarded? Join Consumers’ Research for a discussion on the pros and cons of the changing antitrust framework with two of the most well-regarded experts on the subject, Joshua Wright, University Professor and Executive Director, Global Antitrust Institute at Scalia Law School at George Mason University, and Ashley Baker, Director of Public Policy at Committee for Justice.
Director of Public Policy
Committee for Justice
University Professor and Executive Director, Global Antitrust Institute
Scalia Law School at George Mason University
About our Speakers:
Ashley Baker is the Director of Public Policy at the Committee for Justice. Her focus areas include the Supreme Court, judicial nominations, technology and regulatory policy. Her writing has appeared in Fox News, The Hill, USA Today, RealClearPolitics, The Daily Caller, The American Spectator, and elsewhere. Most recently, Ashley has worked to form a new coalition of groups, the Alliance on Antitrust, which was established to address calls to move away from the consumer welfare standard by weaponizing the law, which would leave consumers and conservatives worse off. As an expert on the judicial confirmation process, Ms. Baker worked closely on efforts related to the confirmations of Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, and has served as a speaker on the topic for RNLA. Most of Ashley’s work is at the intersection of the courts, regulation, and technology. Ashley engages in policy and legal analysis and outreach on legislation and regulations related to these issues by writing op-eds, letters to Congress for committee hearings, and regulatory comments to a broad array of executive agencies including the FTC, NTIA, FCC, EPA, DOL, SEC, and the DOJ Antitrust Division. Ashley is an active member of the Federalist Society, where she serves as an expert on the Regulatory Transparency Project’s working groups on Antitrust and Consumer Protection and Cyber and Privacy.
Joshua D. Wright is University Professor and the Executive Director of the Global Antitrust Institute at Scalia Law School at George Mason University. Professor Wright also holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Economics. In 2013, the Senate unanimously confirmed Professor Wright as a member of the FTC. He rejoined Scalia Law School as a full-time faculty member in 2015. Professor Wright is a leading scholar in antitrust law, economics, intellectual property, and consumer protection, and has published more than 100 articles and book chapters, co-authored a leading antitrust casebook, and edited several book volumes. He was awarded the Paul M. Bator Award by the Federalist Society in 2014. Wright previously served the FTC in the Bureau of Competition as its inaugural Scholar-in-Residence. Wright’s return to the FTC as a Commissioner marked his fourth stint at the agency, after having served as an intern in both the Bureau of Economics and Bureau of Competition.
The Federalist Society is hosting its annual National Lawyers Convention online this year. Events included:
Environmental Law & Property Rights
EPA Turns 50: A Debate on Environmental Progress and Regulatory Overreach
Administrative Law & Regulation: Regulatory Practice and Oversight in 2021 and Beyond
Corporations, Securities & Antitrust and Telecommunications & Electronic Media: Regulating Social Media
The Quant Insights Conference is back for its 6th event. Join talks from Dr. Harry Markowitz, Dr. Paul Wilmott, Nassim Taleb, Professor Emanuel Derman, Elie Ayache, Aaron Brown, Jim Gatheral, and many more to discover the latest innovations in volatility, agent-based modeling, portfolio optimization, and risk.
Digital assets space is evolving every day. Each year a new trend emerges STO, DeFi, etc. How should you navigate the space and leverage these trends for your advantage? Global Digital Assets Conference will answer this question. We gather the brightest minds from the entire industry – managers at top corporations, academic professors, and crypto gurus – to help you find top investment opportunities and business cases!
The Atlantic Council will host “Leadership through Crisis”, a panel discussion featuring Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, and Janet Yellen, former chair of the Federal Reserve. Both will offer their insights into global recovery through the coronavirus pandemic – especially for the United States and Europe – while also marking the launch of the Atlantic Council’s new GeoEconomics Center.
The panel will be moderated by Frederick Kempe, Atlantic Council president, and will feature opening remarks from John F.W. Rogers, chairman of the Atlantic Council Board of Directors, and Gina Wood, VP of Foundational and Institutional Giving.
With developments in key states and enthusiastic proponents set to assume leadership positions at the federal level, environmental justice is rapidly evolving from an aspirational concept to a tangible regulatory and litigation tool. Speakers will survey the emerging landscape, evaluate the corporate compliance risks and opportunities, and forecast to what extent environmental justice will influence regulatory decisions on permitting, construction, and other business activities.
Are faulty statistics covering up growing problems for the average American consumer? Can consumers trust the US government’s inflation reports? From hedonic adjustment to substitution bias to seasonal adjustment, the Consumer Price Index (the CPI) includes numerous modifications to the underlying price data. Most consumers have probably never even heard of the CPI, much less taken time to consider how its calculated, but they have certainly seen prices go up during their lifetimes. How much they have gone up is the topic of our next conversation.
Enter Oren Cass, Executive Director of American Compass. Last year, Oren published a pivotal report detailing the problems with how we calculate and think about consumer inflation. He argues the CPI does not tell the real story about the rising costs of achieving the American Dream. He recommends we adopt a “Cost of Thriving” index as another important lens for understanding what is happening in the economy.
Join us at noon on February 24 for a discussion with Oren of maybe the single most important number for consumers. We will discuss problems with how inflation is calculated, the reasons consumers should be concerned about these flaws, and what they can do about it.
Oren Cass is the executive director of American Compass and author of The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America (2018). He is a contributing opinion writer for the Financial Times and his work also appears regularly in publications including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
From 2005 to 2015, Oren worked as a management consultant in Bain & Company’s Boston and Delhi offices. During this period, he also earned his J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was elected vice president and treasurer of the Harvard Law Review and oversaw the journal’s budget and operations. While still in law school, Oren also became Domestic Policy Director for Governor Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, editing and producing the campaign’s “jobs book” and developing its domestic policy strategy, proposals, and research. He joined the Manhattan Institute as a senior fellow in 2015 and became a prolific scholar, publishing more than 15 reports for MI and editing its popular “Issues 2016” and “Issues 2020” series, testifying before seven congressional committees and speaking on dozens of college campuses. He founded American Compass at the start of 2020.