Don’t wait for Biden’s antitrust revolution

On July 9, President Joe Biden issued an executive order promoting competition in the US economy. According to the fact sheet that accompanied the order, in more than 75% of US industries, the concentration is higher than 20 years ago. Margins have tripled. The advertised salaries have fallen by up to 17%. Higher prices and lower wages cost the median US household $ 5,000 per year. The rate of new business start-ups has fallen by almost 50% since the 1970s. Productivity growth has slowed. Business innovation has declined. Income wealth and racial inequalities have widened. To remedy the situation, the decree proposes a series of initiatives in more than a dozen agencies to promote greater competition in the economy. Here we focus on the order’s recommendations to the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, particularly because the FTC has had a chairman selected by Biden for a considerable time. The new head of the Antitrust division, Jonathan Kanter, just arrived in November.

President calls on DOJ and FTC to reconsider the scope of some of their guidelines, including the horizontal merger guidelines, the vertical merger guidelines and the antitrust guidelines for human resources professionals in October 2016. The President also recommended rules on the use of non-competition and other clauses that may limit worker mobility, data collection and monitoring that may harm competition, restrictions imposed by manufacturers that prevent farmers from repair their own equipment, agreements to delay entry into the pharmaceutical industry by suppliers of generics and biosimilars, unfair competition in the internet market, unfair work permit restrictions and exclusionary practices in real estate brokerage.

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