The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Trump Administration Sees No Threat to Economy From Monopolies. President Trump and his economic team see “no need to hastily rewrite the federal government’s antitrust rules,” drawing a battle line with leading Democratic presidential candidates on an issue that has increasingly drawn the attention of economists, legal scholars and other academics. In their annual Economic Report of the President, released on Thursday, Mr. Trump and his advisers effectively dismiss an emerging line of economic research that finds large American companies increasingly dominate industries like telecommunications and tech, stifling competition and hurting consumers. That research, which President Barack Obama’s economic team championed in 2016, has become fodder for presidential candidates like Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont to call for breaking up big tech companies.
EU bets on industrial data, new rules to catch up in global tech. The European Commission plans to create a single European market for data, hoping that pooling the region’s deep industrial expertise will help build technology powerhouses to catch up with Silicon Valley and state-backed Chinese heavyweights. The plan proposed by the EU executive is part of a digital market policy shake-up that also includes steps to rein in the data controlling powers of companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. Having lagged the first wave of digital innovation, particularly in consumer markets such as social media, online shopping and smartphones, the EU is keen to make up lost ground and avoid its firms relying on data from U.S and Asian rivals.
Facebook warns of risks to innovation, freedom of expression ahead of EU rules. Facebook warned of threats to innovation and freedom of expression, ahead of the release of a raft of rules by the European Union this week and in coming months to rein in U.S. tech giants and Chinese companies. The social media giant laid out its concerns in a white paper, and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg was expected to reiterate the message to EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager and EU industry chief Thierry Breton in Brussels. Referring to the possibility that the EU may hold internet companies responsible for hate speech and other illegal speech published on their platforms, Facebook said this ignores the nature of the internet. “Such liability would stifle innovation as well as individuals’ freedom of expression,” it said in the white paper.
A Giant Milk Industry Merger Moves Closer With a $425 Million Deal. It’s a hard time to be a dairy farmer in America: The nationwide decline in milk consumption and the rippling effects of the trade war with China have pushed thousands of farms out of business. Now the industry is a step closer to a major consolidation that some struggling farmers fear could cripple them even further. In a deal that is likely to draw scrutiny from government antitrust regulators, Dairy Farmers of America, the country’s largest milk cooperative, announced last week that it had reached an agreement to purchase a “substantial portion” of the bankrupt milk company Dean Foods.