Coalminers and Coordination Rights

Coalminers and Coordination Rights

In the two decades before the Hepburn Act’s enactment, two entities vied for the right to coordinate the price and distribution of coal. The first—a group known as the Joint Conference of Miners and Operators of the Central Competitive Field—was the child of the United Mine Workers.The second—a group of coal-hauling railroads known as the Seaboard Coal Association—was the child of J. P. Morgan and the Pennsylvania Railroad. Understanding their struggle for power (and why capitalists rather than workers won), can help us better understand the stakes of antitrust.

School Segregation, Social Closure, and the Anti-Monopoly Analogy

School Segregation, Social Closure, and the Anti-Monopoly Analogy

In my new article, Monopolizing Whiteness, I examine the causes and consequences of “white island districts,” i.e. those that enroll predominantly white and affluent student bodies, despite being in racially and economically diverse metropolitan areas. I theorize that white student segregation in districts like GPSD is a product of (what sociologists refer to as) social closure— a process of subordination whereby an in-group works to curtail an out-group from accessing resources constructed as scarce. I suggest that the “essential facilities” framework of antitrust law can help to illustrate what a legal framework looks like that could appropriately recognize and address the process and harms of social closure.

AMRI 2.0 This Summer!

AMRI 2.0 This Summer!

Following on the success of last summer’s Anti-Monopoly and Regulated Industries (AMRI) Summer Academy, this summer’s updated program will once again provide participants with a crash course in political economy, anti-monopoly, public utility, and regulated industries, drawing on cutting-edge scholarship in law, economics, and social science. Apply by May 20!

Woke Capital?

Woke Capital?

Anti-monopolists are right to worry about the concentrated power of institutional investors, but they are wrong to treat them as all bad. Common ownership presents an opportunity for the left to divide the interests of capitalists.

How to Vaccinate the World, Part 2

How to Vaccinate the World, Part 2

In a previous post, one of us described why we need global cooperation to achieve massively scaled up production of COVID vaccines. The United States must play a key role in this process, because it has the ability to mobilize resources, and powerful leverage over companies that have so far resisted serious participation in global efforts – especially Moderna, Pfizer, and J&J. Some commentators question whether the US has the power to compel this cooperation. Others have doubted the relevance of the demand coming from developing countries to temporarily waive the requirements of the World Trade Organization’s TRIPS Agreement to facilitate more manufacturing. In this post, we explain why existing US law gives the Biden Administration the power to mandate sharing and overcome IP barriers, and how the TRIPS waiver can contribute importantly to efforts to scale up production at a global scale.

How to Vaccinate the World, Part 1

How to Vaccinate the World, Part 1

The shortage of vaccines is a manmade problem, brought on by the false promise of innovation-by-monopoly and by reproduction of colonial dynamics. Our global R&D system layers privatized control and profits for huge firms based in rich countries atop a vast regime of open science and public subsidy. We can scale up production if we force pharma to share.

The Functional Logic of Antitrust: Oligarchy vs. Democracy

The Functional Logic of Antitrust: Oligarchy vs. Democracy

The reinterpretation of antitrust in terms of “consumer welfare” has not resulted in bountiful consumer welfare, but oligarchy unleashed. But, as I wrote in the Journal of Law and Political Economy, antitrust can be a force for fairness and democracy again. A reimagined antitrust law that restricts consolidation of business assets and permits certain forms of coordination among small actors would limit domination and disperse power.

On Socializing the Constitution of Economic Coordination

On Socializing the Constitution of Economic Coordination

This post is part of our symposium on socialist constitutionalism. Professor Forbath’s essay, drawing from his research into the Weimar Constitution, urges us to reconsider what we mean both by socialism and by constitutionalism. He recovers and makes vivid a socialist vision that is neither about (simply or necessarily) “nationalizing” industry nor only about redistributing the…

The Hidden Shortages of the Market Economy

The Hidden Shortages of the Market Economy

If you think shortages—in goods like toilet paper, meat, and masks—came in with the pandemic, think again. Shortages are periods during which demand exceeds supply, and they’re an inescapable feature of all markets, all the time. When an investor bids up the price of Apple stock because none is available at current prices, that’s a…

The Economics of Shortages

The Economics of Shortages

The price of food increased 2.6% in April, the largest single-month increase since 1974, but food industry executives are insisting that the country has enough food. So why are prices going up? The explanation provided by the industry is that consumers are buying more than they need, creating shortages. But a shortage is not a…

Killing Antitrust Softly (Through Procedure)

Killing Antitrust Softly (Through Procedure)

The Supreme Court has waged a multi-decade war on private rights of action. It has subverted the rights of consumers, workers, small businesses, and others to hold corporations accountable for wrongdoing through lawsuits. The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) has been a preferred tool of the Court. Since the 1980s, it has reinvented this modest statute,…

The Erosion of Public Control Over Public Utilities

The Erosion of Public Control Over Public Utilities

Since the 1970s, Congress and federal agencies have replaced regulator-established rates with market-derived pricing in many sectors of the U.S. economy. Electricity and natural gas are two such industries. Congress and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have abolished regulated rates and instituted market-based pricing in a part of the electricity and gas supply chains.…

The Allocation of Economic Coordination Rights

The Allocation of Economic Coordination Rights

The concept of economic competition is central to policymaking deliberation in this country. Yet even as our understanding of that concept evolves to take better account of corporate power, our thinking about competition retains a fundamental blind spot. Simply, the boundaries of the business firm insulate many instances of economic coordination that would be deemed anti-competitive…

Khan on Ohio v. American Express

Khan on Ohio v. American Express

I recently published two pieces assessing Ohio v. American Express, the Court’s most significant antitrust opinion in a decade. At Vox, I explained how the Court’s 5-4 decision ratified a new and troubling approach to antitrust. In short, the Court created a special rule for what it describes as “two-sided transaction platforms”—a term that encompasses, for example,…