June 19, 2019

CHANGE: Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim Delivers Remarks for the Antitrust New Frontiers Conference.

Finally, the Antitrust Division does not take a myopic view of competition. Many recent calls for antitrust reform, or more radical change, are premised on the incorrect notion that antitrust policy is only concerned with keeping prices low. It is well-settled, however, that competition has price and non-price dimensions.

Price effects alone do not provide a complete picture of market dynamics, especially in digital markets in which the profit-maximizing price is zero. As the journalist Franklin Foer recently said, “Who can complain about the price that Google is charging you? Or who can complain about Amazon’s prices; they are simply lower than the competition’s.” Harm to innovation is also an important dimension of competition that can have far-reaching effects. Consider, for example, a product that never reaches the market or is withdrawn from the market due to an unlawful acquisition. The antitrust laws should protect the competition that would be lost in that scenario as well.

In addition, diminished quality is also a type of harm to competition. As an example, privacy can be an important dimension of quality. By protecting competition, we can have an impact on privacy and data protection. Moreover, two companies can compete to expand privacy protections for products or services, or for greater openness and free speech on platforms. Where competition pushes companies to develop quality elements that better satisfy consumer preferences, our enforcement can protect that sort of competition too.

Breaking with the Borkian price theory is a big deal.

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