Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

‘A Travelogue of Monopoly’

Asher Schechter, of ProMarket, interviewed David Dayen about monopoly power and antitrust regulation:

Q: The contrast between ordinary people and the experts is at the heart of your book. The people you interview (and polls show that most Americans as well) seem to have at least an intuitive understanding that competition is waning, yet at least until very recently, most antitrust experts were very opposed to this notion. How do you explain this disconnect?

You have to give the American people a little bit of credit here. They don’t sit there and study the changes in antitrust doctrine and how it has moved from a story of anticompetitive harms to a story about consumer welfare. That’s not how they live their lives.

They don’t just see themselves as consumers. They are workers. They are members of the community. They are, in some cases, small businesses and entrepreneurs. They are all citizens.

They see the infringement on their liberty as such, in all of those different contexts. They see themselves that we are more than our Amazon Prime accounts. We’re more well-rounded than that. The antitrust doctrine that we’ve seen over the last 40 years simply does not match the lived experience of people.

One of the unique characteristics of this laissez-faire approach to antitrust regulation in the United States is how it affects global trade. It’s sort of the opposite of Boeing and Airbus each accuse the other of improper government subsidization; the effect of lax regulation is like having a thumb unfairly lifted off the scale.