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,…

How Contemporary Antitrust Robs Workers of Power

How Contemporary Antitrust Robs Workers of Power

The political economist Albert Hirschman developed the idea that members of an organization can exercise power in two ways—through exit and voice. Market activity is associated with exit: consumers unhappy with the price or quality of service of their current wireless carrier can switch to a rival carrier offering lower rates or better service. Elections…

Against the Cult of Competition

Against the Cult of Competition

Competition is one of the talismanic words in law and economics and American life. It is often hailed as an unqualified good and touted as a solution to what ails society. The value of competition is endorsed across the ideological spectrum: Conservatives decry the lack of competition in schools and taxi cab services, while progressives…

Antitrust and the Informal Sector in South Africa

Antitrust and the Informal Sector in South Africa

This is the second post in a two-part series about law and political economy in the South African context. The series reports on a collaboration among leading ‘heterodox’ economists, left-wing sociologists, high level government policymakers, and legal scholars, advocates and activists aimed at “thinking large” about reconstructing the nation’s political economy. The way out of…

From Territorial to Functional Sovereignty: The Case of Amazon

From Territorial to Functional Sovereignty: The Case of Amazon

Economists tend to characterize the scope of regulation as a simple matter of expanding or contracting state power. But a political economy perspective emphasizes that social relations abhor a power vacuum. When state authority contracts, private parties fill the gap. That power can feel just as oppressive, and have effects just as pervasive, as garden…

Will Trump’s DOJ Crack Down on Massive Vertical Mergers?

Will Trump’s DOJ Crack Down on Massive Vertical Mergers?

Over the weekend, CVS announced a proposal to acquire Aetna. The $69 billion merger would be the biggest deal ever in the health insurance industry, consolidating in a single entity the role of insurer, pharmacy, and pharmacy benefit manager. There’s good reason to think the deal—if approved by the Justice Department—would harm the public. To…