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November 13, 2020
Economists-For-Hire Help Monopolists And Big Oil Both
On Wednesday, The New York Times exposed that a network of seemingly-grassroots campaigns to promote the use of fossil fuels was actually organized by FTI Consulting, a dystopic corporate consulting firm working on behalf of oil and gas behemoths like ExxonMobil. The Times also implicates an FTI subsidiary, Compass Lexecon, in producing academic reports to support these astroturfed campaigns’ talking points. Compass Lexecon employees wrote reports criticizing activist shareholders and university divestment campaigns, tactics often used by the environmental activists FTI was paid to undermine.
September 09, 2020 | American Prospect
Biden Stiff-Arming Big Tech Would Be Good Politics, Policy
If Biden, should he be elected, chooses not to fill his administration with the usual former industry executives, lawyers, and lobbyists, he will likely be making one of the most universally popular choices of any president in recent history.
August 10, 2020
The Revolving Door Project on Fighting Monopoly Power
Congress and the antitrust enforcement agencies have given unprecedented attention to the monopoly issues surrounding Big Tech in recent months. The scrutiny is one step toward rebalancing our increasingly concentrated economy, especially in the time of COVID-19, when small businesses are struggling to survive and corporations are further entrenching their power. But the problem of economic concentration extends far beyond Big Tech. It defines almost every corner of our economy. With the upcoming election and a potential shift in power, Joe Biden has an opportunity to reduce economic consolidation across the board, using executive branch powers including, but not limited to, reforming the antitrust enforcement agencies.
July 29, 2020 | Talking Points Memo
Today’s Congressional Hearing Will Test Big Tech’s Simplest Algorithm: If An Ex-Regulator, Then Hire
The tech companies set to testify before the House today knew for years that a reckoning was in the works. They’ve been building up their defenses, and a key component of that defense is the antitrust enforcement officials who take a trip through the revolving door to the benefit of corporate clients.
July 18, 2020 | Washington Monthly
Better Policy Ideas Alone Won’t Stop Monopolies
Over the last four years, new voices in the Democratic Party have been calling for policies that push back on established power structures. The growing anti-monopoly movement is a major part of this populist uprising—aimed at breaking up the corporate giants that dominate large swaths of the economy.
June 19, 2020 | Washington Monthly
How Biden Can Prove He’s Serious About Busting Corporate Monopolies
At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Americans quickly learned just how unprepared the country was for a pandemic. One of the most alarming revelations was that the U.S. had nowhere near the number of ventilators and other life-saving medical equipment it needed to fight the virus. That’s largely because of a surprising culprit: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
June 17, 2020
“Career” Trade Reps Solicit USMCA Consulting Gigs from Auto Industry
Jason Bernstein and Fred Fischer, both Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representatives, reached out to auto industry representatives offering to “assist companies directly with their USMCA implementation needs,” according to Bloomberg’s report. The report did not confirm whether Bernstein and Fischer asked for or received clearance to contact the auto companies, while ethics experts speculate that offering such services while still employed by the government might breach federal ethics requirements.
June 04, 2020
Another BigLaw Alum Ascends at the FTC
In late May, the Federal Trade Commission promoted Patty McDermott to Deputy Assistant Director of the Anticompetitive Practices (ACP) division. The ACP division’s work “involves not only stopping illegal conduct but also shaping the law,” making McDermott’s new position one of interest to corporations overseen by the FTC, beyond run-of-the-mill enforcement.
May 28, 2020
The Top Revolving Door Jobs for Ex-FTC Lawyers and Economists
The Revolving Door Project’s investigation shows that corporate gigs continue to be the most popular positions for FTC lawyers to take after leaving their posts, and reveals the regularity with which economists and analysts revolve to economic consulting firms that serve corporate interests.
May 14, 2020
Bezos Conveniently Ignores Congress’s Call to the Hot Seat
In late April, Amazon caught heat from members of the House Judiciary Committee for seemingly lying about the company’s use of data on third party vendors selling in Amazon’s marketplace. Contradicting Amazon in-house counsel (and former DOJ Antitrust official) Nate Sutton’s sworn testimony on the subject in July of 2019, the Wall Street Journal broke the story on April 23rd that Amazon is using proprietary information generated for third-party sellers on the platform to develop its house-brand products.
May 11, 2020
International Antitrust Response to Coronavirus
The Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act would preemptively stop harmful mergers that not only affect American consumers, but economies all over the world that rely on the same global supply chains. Undoubtedly, companies looking to acquire struggling businesses during the pandemic will try to take advantage of the “failing firm” argument to justify acquisitions. But what actions have lawmakers and antitrust enforcement officials in other countries undertaken to prevent predatory mergers while businesses struggle?
April 29, 2020
Amazon Won’t Play Fair In Commerce Or Congress
Last week, the Wall Street Journal revealed that contrary to stated company policies, Amazon looks at proprietary information generated for third-party sellers on the platform when developing its house-brand offerings. Cases described to the Journal include Amazon engineers peeking at the total sales, profit margins, and shipping costs for a popular third-party car trunk organizer which sells on Amazon Marketplace. Amazon later used that data to help design its own, rival product. Third-party sellers have long believed that Amazon wasn’t looking at this information because…Amazon said it wasn’t looking at this information. Instead, the tech giant’s control of both the Marketplace and its own house brands grants it an anti-competitive advantage over smaller sellers who depend on Amazon’s marketplace to survive. They can’t check all of their competitors’ stats on a whim to figure out how to drive them out of business.
April 14, 2020
Facebook Picks Up Senior FTC Official To Undermine Her Former Employees
The Covid-19 pandemic is creating ripe conditions for corporate acquisition sprees by industry giants. But at least one company, already under the microscope, isn’t just looking to pick off competitors. Facebook has its eyes on the supposed cops on this beat, the antitrust enforcement officials ready to jump ship.
April 02, 2020 | The American Prospect
The Men and Women Who Shrank the U.S. Ventilator Supply
This week, we learned that America squandered the opportunity to avoid an imminent critical shortage of lifesaving ventilators, and horrifying medical triage, amid surging COVID-19 cases in New York City, New Orleans, and elsewhere. The New York Times reported that a 2012 merger overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) foiled public-health officials’ push to replenish the nation’s ventilator supply.
February 27, 2020
Biden and Buttigieg See Pharma Money As The Cure For Campaign Woes
HHS secretary Alex Azar refused to guarantee a coronavirus vaccine would be affordable to all during Congressional testimony on Wednesday. The outrage reminded Americans why they are sick and tired of the unchecked pharmaceutical industry’s abuses. As we wrote for the American Prospect, Azar is a former pharma lobbyist who, like the rest of President Trump’s coronavirus response team, has no background in public health or research.