Experts weigh the current cost of anticompetitive behavior in Big Tech

How to identify, remedy, and prevent anticompetitive behavior by Big Tech companies was the theme of the day-long February 24 conference, “Antitrust and 21st Century Bigness: Dealing with Tech Platforms in a Globalized World." Antitrust scholars, practitioners, and regulators from the United States and Europe discussed technology mergers and monopolization, the reach of current competition law, and potential regulatory and legislative changes to address anticompetitive conduct by technology firms. 

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Morning keynote speaker Doha Mekki, principal deputy assistant attorney general in the antitrust division of the US Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, engaged in a conversation with Walter J. Derenberg Professor of Trade Regulation Emerita Eleanor Fox ’68

“I think there’s a false tension between the kind of competition that benefits consumers and the kind of competition that benefits workers,” Mekki said. “Looking back to the legislative history of the Sherman Act itself, Senator Sherman says that we should be concerned about monopoly power because it ‘commands the price of labor without fear of strikes, for in its field it allows no competitors,'” said Mekki. “...And so a recognition that labor can be impacted by the industrial relations of firms, I think, shouldn’t be radical at this point.” 

Joseph Stiglitz, University Professor at Columbia University, delivered the closing keynote of the day, arguing that a changing economy necessitates stronger competition regulation. “The legal framework that we had at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century are not adequate to the changes in the structure of our global economy, and in particular to the challenges posed by tech,” Stiglitiz said. “This is the era of information,” he added, “and it really does change economics, and it changes antitrust. The idea that information might be imperfect totally changed all of our views about economics. Adam Smith’s invisible hand was shown to be wrong.”

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Posted on May 5, 2023