Dynamic Antitrust With Aurelien Portuese: Discussions on the Future of Competition and Innovation

In a time of rapid technological progress, with digital innovations disrupting previously unassailable market leaders in all sectors of the economy, policymakers, civil society, and the voting public have become increasingly concerned with competition and antitrust issues. How do we ensure that competition on the merits serves the common good by spurring innovation and producing consumer benefits?

Antitrust enforcement and reforms need to integrate market dynamics into antitrust enforcement to encourage innovation, not stifle it. Innovation-based antitrust would not only emphasize the importance of innovation as a source of competition but also encourage a dynamic approach to antitrust enforcement—or “dynamic antitrust”—in which regulators weigh factors such as firms’ dynamic capabilities instead of the traditional approach of static market analysis.

In this conversation series, co-sponsored by ITIF and Competition Policy International, Aurelien Portuese, ITIF’s director of antitrust and innovation policy, sits down with leading scholars and antitrust enforcers in Washington, Brussels, and elsewhere to discuss the path forward in making antitrust a foundation of innovation.

Discussion #10: "FTC Rulemaking Authority"

U.S. antitrust laws are under fire – reforms appear inevitable in light of the techlash and the antitrust concerns in digital markets. Equally, EU competition law undergoes a significant overhaul with notably the Digital Markets Act. Do U.S. antitrust laws and EU competition laws eventually converge? Does Neo-Brandeisianism, now prevailing in the U.S., reinforce European ordoliberalism? How to further improve the cooperation between European antitrust enforcers and American antitrust enforcers in today’s fast-changing markets? 

For the tenth in a series of discussions on “dynamic antitrust,” Aurelien will talk to Daniel Crane and Andrew Gavil.

Register here.

Discussion #9: "Biden's Executive Order"

U.S. antitrust laws are under fire – reforms appear inevitable in light of the techlash and the antitrust concerns in digital markets. Equally, EU competition law undergoes a significant overhaul with notably the Digital Markets Act. Do U.S. antitrust laws and EU competition laws eventually converge? Does Neo-Brandeisianism, now prevailing in the U.S., reinforce European ordoliberalism? How to further improve the cooperation between European antitrust enforcers and American antitrust enforcers in today’s fast-changing markets? 

For the ninth in a series of discussions on “dynamic antitrust,” Aurelien spoke to Carl Shapiro and Barak Orbach.

Watch "Biden's Executive Order on Competition".

Discussion #8: "Transatlantic Antitrust"

U.S. antitrust laws are under fire – reforms appear inevitable in light of the techlash and the antitrust concerns in digital markets. Equally, EU competition law undergoes a significant overhaul with notably the Digital Markets Act. Do U.S. antitrust laws and EU competition laws eventually converge? Does Neo-Brandeisianism, now prevailing in the U.S., reinforce European ordoliberalism? How to further improve the cooperation between European antitrust enforcers and American antitrust enforcers in today’s fast-changing markets? 

For the eighth in a series of discussions on “dynamic antitrust,” Aurelien spoke to Eleanor Fox and Maria Coppola.

Watch "Transatlantic Antitrust".

Discussion #7: "Dynamic Competition"

Market competition is frequently perceived from a static perspective by antitrust enforcers. The reduction of the number of firms, the degradation of the market structure, and the increase in the size of some companies are causes for antitrust concerns, and subsequently, for antitrust interventions. How relevant the model of “perfect competition” is for antitrust enforcers? What would a dynamic perspective of antitrust entail about the relationship between innovation and competition? If competition is a source of innovation, innovation is often a source of competition. This causal relationship is often overlooked. What would an innovation-based antitrust suggest for today’s antitrust debates? 

For the seventh in a series of discussions on “dynamic antitrust,” Aurelien spoke to David Teece, John Yun, and Ioana Marinescu.

Watch "Dynamic Competition".

Discussion #6: "Antitrust Paradigm Shift"

Antitrust reformers are advocating for a paradigm shift in which antitrust enforcement would no longer focus only on rectifying harm but also seek to prevent harm from occurring in the first place. But what would this paradigm shift entail for companies, efficiency, and innovation? How would it integrate dynamic competition concerns? Professor Jonathan Baker’s book The Antitrust Paradigm: Restoring a Competitive Economy (Harvard University Press, 2019) critiques the current antitrust paradigm in which enforcement only occurs ex post facto and proposes how it should be changed. 

For the sixth in a series of discussions on “dynamic antitrust,” Aurelien spoke to Professor Jonathan Baker about recommendations built on extensive experience in antitrust laws and their economic assessment.

Watch "Antitrust Paradigm Shift".

Discussion #5: "Killer Acquisitions"

Is it true that markets are becoming too concentrated? More specifically, is it true that large companies are using mergers as a tool thwart competition and stifle innovation by killing off upstart rivals? These questions depend on how you define relevant markets for antitrust purposes. Legislative proposals in the United States and European Union would attempt to end so-called “killer acquisitions” by preventing companies with large market capitalizations from buying small firms. But would that also preclude “enabler acquisitions” that foster competition rather than stifle innovation? 

For the fifth in a series of discussions on “dynamic antitrust,” Aurelien sat down with John Mayo, Douglas Melamed, Maureen Ohlhausen, and Daniel Sokol to discuss whether or not preventing mergers would promote competition or hamper innovation.

Watch 'Killer Acquisitions".

Discussion #4: “Big Tech and the Digital Economy”

What is the importance of technological disruption for economic prosperity and for the competitive environment? How should we organize policies to ensure greater innovation? Joseph Schumpeter pioneered the analysis of innovation with his intuitions that an endless process of creative destruction was taking place. In The Power of Creative Destruction, Philippe Aghion and his co-authors provide a refreshing and intellectually stimulating depiction of the Schumpeterian insights applied to our present day's disruptive innovations.

For the fourth discussion in this series on “dynamic antitrust,” Aurelien and Philippe Aghion delve into how legislators and antitrust enforcers should manage the social disruption that innovation creates.

Watch 'Big Tech and the Digital Economy'.

Discussion #3: “House Report on Big Tech”

The House Report on Competition in the Digital Markets issued last October constitutes the groundwork for the antitrust reforms expected this year. The report focuses on a handful of tech giants to draw policy recommendations about antitrust enforcement. One of the most dramatic policy recommendations of the report is the structural separation of digital platforms – namely, the break-up of tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple. What are the justifications for such a proposal and what are the possibilities for these break-ups to be part of foreseeable legislative changes? 

For the third discussion in this series on “dynamic antitrust,” Aurelien and guests including FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson will discuss the report and the future of tech giants in the United States.

Watch 'House Report on Big Tech'.

Discussion #2: “Innovation Matters”

Competition policy and antitrust enforcement have traditionally focused on prices rather than innovation. That is because economic theory shows the ways that price competition benefits consumers, and courts, antitrust agencies—and economists have developed quantitative tools for evaluating price impacts. But in his recent book Innovation Matters: Competition Policy for the High-Technology Economyeconomist Richard J. Gilbert argues antitrust enforcement should shift from a price-centric competition policy to an innovation-centric one in order to protect incentives for innovation rather than static competition. In a high-technology economy, Gilbert argues, innovation matters.

For the second discussion in this series on “dynamic antitrust,” Aurelien and Richard Gilbert delved into the details of innovation-centric antitrust policy.

Watch 'Innovation Matters'.

Discussion #1: “Biden Antitrust”

What will President Biden’s competition policy be? He faces immediate antitrust issues, from ongoing lawsuits against market-leading Internet platforms to calls for legislative overhauls of foundational laws like Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. After the Trump administration, a tumultuous four years in which antitrust was characterized by regular and dramatic changes of attitudes toward tech companies, will Biden now resist the temptation of antitrust populism? Will he embed antitrust enforcement and reforms in an innovation perspective?

For the first discussion in this series on “dynamic antitrust,” Aurelien’s guests included former FTC Chairman William Kovacic and FTC Commissioner Noah Joshua Philips. They considered the policy prospects and institutional possibilities for antitrust in the Biden presidency.

Watch 'Biden Antitrust'. 

More discussions to follow.