jerryking + regulators   36

Lina Khan: ‘This isn’t just about antitrust. It’s about values’
March 29, 2019 | Financial Times | by Rana Foroohar.

Lina Khan is the legal wunderkind reshaping the global debate over competition and corporate power......While still a student at Yale Law School, she wrote a paper, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox”, which was published in the school’s influential journal..... hit a nerve at a time when the overweening power of the Big Tech companies, from Facebook to Google to Amazon, is rising up the agenda......For roughly four decades, antitrust scholars — taking their lead from Robert Bork’s 1978 book The Antitrust Paradox — have pegged their definitions of monopoly power to short-term price effects; so if Amazon is making prices lower for consumers, the market must be working effectively.....Khan made the case that this interpretation of US antitrust law, meant to regulate competition and curb monopolistic practices, is utterly unsuited to the architecture of the modern economy.....Khan's counterargument: that it doesn’t matter if companies such as Amazon are making things cheaper in dollars if they are using predatory pricing strategies to dominate multiple industries and choke off competition and choice.....Speaking to hedge funds and banks during her research, Khan found that they were valuing Amazon and its growth potential in a way that signified monopoly power..." I’m interested in imbalances in market power and how they manifest. That’s something you can see not just in tech but across many industries,” says Khan, who has written sharp pieces on monopoly power in areas as diverse as airlines and agriculture. " Khan, like many in her cohort, believes otherwise. “If markets are leading us in directions that we, as a democratic society, decide are not compatible with our vision of liberty or democracy, it is incumbent upon government to do something.” Lina Khan has had a stint as a legal fellow at the Federal Trade Commission, consulted with EU officials, influenced competition policy in India, brainstormed ideas with presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren and — recently joined the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law. The 2008 financial crisis she thinks “about markets, and the government’s response to them, and certain forms of intervention that they do take, and that they don’t take”.....Khan, Lynn and others including the Columbia academic Tim Wu have developed and popularised the “new Brandeis” school of antitrust regulation, hearkening back to the era in which Louis Brandeis, the “people’s lawyer”, took on oligarchs such as John D Rockefeller and JP Morgan.....Lina sees Amazon as not just a discount retailer but as a marketing platform, delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, auction house, publisher and so on, and to understand just how ill-equipped current antitrust law was to deal with such a multi-faceted entity......a Columbia Law Review paper out in May 2019 will explores the case for separating the ownership of technology platforms from the commercial activity they host, so that Big Tech firms cannot both run a dominant marketplace and compete on it. via a host of old cases — from railroad antitrust suits to the separation of merchant banking and the ownership of commodities — to argue that “if you are a form of infrastructure, then you shouldn’t be able to compete with all the businesses dependent on your infrastructure”....“The new Brandeis movement isn’t just about antitrust,” .... Rather, it is about values. “Laws reflect values,” she says. “Antitrust laws used to reflect one set of values, and then there was a change in values that led us to a very different place.”

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21st._century  Amazon  antitrust  Big_Tech  digital_economy  financial_crises  FTC  lawyers  Lina_Khan  monopolies  paradoxes  platforms  policymakers  predatory_practices  Rana_Foroohar  regulators  Robert_Bork  Tim_Wu  wunderkind  Yale  values  value_judgements 
march 2019 by jerryking
Why further financial crises are inevitable
March 19, 2019 | Financial Times | Martin Wolf.

We learnt this month that the US Fed had decided not to raise the countercyclical capital buffer required of banks above its current level of zero, even though the US economy is at a cyclical peak. It also removed “qualitative” grades from its stress tests for American banks, though not for foreign ones. Finally, the Financial Stability Oversight Council, led by Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury secretary, removed the last insurer from its list of “too big to fail” institutions.

These decisions may not endanger the stability of the financial system. But they show that financial regulation is procyclical: it is loosened when it should be tightened and tightened when it should be loosened. We do, in fact, learn from history — and then we forget.....Regulation of banks has tightened since the financial crises of 2007-12. Capital and liquidity requirements are stricter, the “stress test” regime is quite demanding, and efforts have been made to end “too big to fail” by developing the idea of orderly “resolution” of large and complex financial institutions.....Yet complacency is unjustified. Banks remain highly leveraged institutions.....history demonstrates the procyclicality of regulation. Again and again, regulation is relaxed during a boom: indeed, the deregulation often fuels that boom. Then, when the damage has been done and disillusionment sets in, it is tightened again........We can see four reasons why this tends to happen: economic, ideological, political and merely human.

* Economic
Over time the financial system evolves. There is a tendency for risk to migrate out of the best regulated parts of the system to less well regulated parts. Even if regulators have the power and will to keep up, the financial innovation that so often accompanies this makes it hard to do so. The global financial system is complex and adaptable. It is also run by highly motivated people. It is hard for regulators to catch up with the evolution of what we now call “shadow banking”.

* Ideological
the tendency to view this complex system through a simplistic lens. The more powerful the ideology of free markets, the more the authority and power of regulators will tend to erode. Naturally, public confidence in this ideology tends to be strong in booms and weak in busts.

* Political

the financial system controls vast resources and can exert huge influence. In the 2018 US electoral cycle, finance, insurance and real estate (three intertwined sectors) were the largest contributors, covering one-seventh of the total cost. This is a superb example of Mancur Olson’s Logic of Collective Action: concentrated interests override the general one. This is much less true in times of crisis, when the public is enraged and wants to punish bankers. But it is true, again, in normal times.

Borderline or even blatant corruption also emerges: politicians may even demand a share in the wealth created in booms. Since politicians ultimately control regulators, the consequences for the latter, even if they are honest and diligent, are evident.

A significant aspect of the politics is closely linked to regulatory arbitrage: international competition. One jurisdiction tries to attract financial business via “light-touch” regulation; others then follow. This is frequently because their own financiers and financial centres complain bitterly. It is hard to resist the argument that foreigners are cheating.

* Human
There is a human tendency to dismiss long-ago events as irrelevant, to believe This Time is Different and ignore what is not under one’s nose. Much of this can be summarised as “disaster myopia”. The public gives irresponsible policymakers the benefit of the doubt and enjoys the boom. Over time, regulation degrades, as the forces against it strengthen and those in its favour corrode.

The cumulative effect of these efforts is quite clear: regulations erode and that erosion will be exported. This has happened before and will do so again. This time, too, is not different.
boom-to-bust  bubbles  collective_action  complacency  corruption  disaster_myopia  entrenched_interests  economic_downturn  financiers  financial_crises  financial_regulation  financial_system  historical_amnesia  Mancur_Olson  Martin_Wolf  policymakers  politicians  politics  procyclicality  regulatory_arbitrage  regulation  regulators  stress-tests  This_Time_is_Different  U.S._Federal_Reserve 
march 2019 by jerryking
Why America cannot fly alone
March 13, 2019 | Financial Times | by Edward Luce.

The US does not have a head of the Federal Aviation Administration.

It took about 72 hours for reality to close in on Donald Trump. One by one, the world’s regulators — led by China, swiftly followed by the EU — grounded Boeing’s 737 Max planes following two disastrous crashes. Under pressure from Mr Trump, America’s FAA held out. When Canada joined, America’s isolation was almost complete. Mr Trump’s stance offers a unique example of the world spurning America’s lead on airline safety. His reversal is a “teachable moment”.... on the realities of a fast-changing world. Why? The biggest factor is falling global trust in US institutional probity. Mr Trump’s budget this week proposed a cut to the FAA in spite of the fact that its air traffic control system remains years behind many of its counterparts. Moreover, the FAA lacks a chief.......The FAA has been flying without a pilot, so to speak, for more than a year. Little surprise America’s partners have lost trust in its direction.......More than halfway through Mr Trump’s term, one in seven US ambassadorships are still unfilled, including South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The same applies to key state department vacancies at home. Such is the level of demoralisation that William Burns, the former deputy secretary of state, talks of America’s “unilateral diplomatic disarmament”. US diplomats increasingly lack the resources — and trust — to do the patient work of persuading other countries to fall in with America...Recent examples of America failing to co-opt a single ally include its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, pulling out of the Paris climate change accord and asking others to fill America’s soon to be empty shoes in Syria....many countries, including Britain and Germany, have rejected Mr Trump’s strictures on Huawei........Trump appears to be signalling that US courts are no longer independent of political whim. ....the most teachable aspect of the Boeing 737 controversy is the reality of the global economy. When China and the EU agree to the same regulatory standard, the US has little choice but to fall in line.......Under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which previous US administrations negotiated, the US and its allies aimed to set the global standards for China. .....By the yardstick of might, the US is still the world’s heavyweight. But it works well only when combined with right. US regulatory leadership on drugs approval, technology, environmental standards and much else besides is falling behind. In spite of the US having the world’s leading technology companies, Europe is setting internet privacy standards.
aviation_safety  airline_safety  Boeing  budget_cuts  Canada  China  cutbacks  Edward_Luce  FAA  fast-changing  institutional_integrity  regulators  regulatory_standards  TPP  unilateralism  Donald_Trump  EU  airline_crashes  teachable_moments 
march 2019 by jerryking
Nortel hacking went on for years
FEBRUARY 14, 2012 | FT Alphaville | By Joseph Cotterill.
Chinese hackers had undetected access to sensitive Nortel data for almost a decade from 2000, the WSJ reports. The extent to which Nortel, the once-mighty telecoms giant, was compromised shows the lack of corporate defences against hacking. Nortel didn’t disclose its hacking problem to buyers of its assets. Spy software was so deeply embedded in Nortel computers that investigators failed to spot its existence for years. The SEC last year began pushing companies to classify serious cyber attacks on their infrastructure as “material risks” that may require financial disclosure.
China  Chinese  cyberattacks  cyber_security  cyberintrusions  disclosure  hackers  Nortel  regulators  risks  SEC 
march 2019 by jerryking
Regulatory showdown awaits for Big Tech — but who gets the job?
March 1, 2019 | Financial Times | Richard Waters.

Wanted: an antitrust enforcer to lead the charge against Big Tech. Must be able to invent novel applications of competition theory to digital markets.

There is a growing list of candidates for this job — but it isn’t at all clear who is best placed to jump into the hot seat.

The US Federal Trade Commission has just volunteered itself, setting up a task force to examine the dominant tech companies. Among the agency’s promises: it will consider new theories of harm that until now haven’t made it out of academia, and it won’t hesitate to push for the court-ordered unwinding of past mergers if it turns out they’re hurting competition.

One problem for competition regulators in the US is that they have taken too narrow a view of their roles, according to Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School. They are concerned almost exclusively with protecting consumers from higher prices — something that doesn’t apply to “free” (advertising-supported) internet services. In his latest book, The Curse of Bigness, Wu calls for a return to a much broader interpretation of the US antitrust statutes, treating market concentration itself as an evil needing be to rectified.
antitrust  Big_Tech  books  FTC  regulation  regulators  Richard_Waters  Tim_Wu 
march 2019 by jerryking
Big Tech in hiring spree for looming antitrust battles | Financial Times
Kiran Stacey in Washington DECEMBER 23, 2018 Print this page6
Big technology and telecoms companies have embarked on a hiring spree of former antitrust officials as their industries gear up for what experts warn could be an “existential” battle over whether they should be broken up.

In the last few months, Facebook, Amazon and AT&T have all hired senior antitrust officials from the US Department of Justice as they confront a new generation of regulators who are interested in preventing concentrations of economic power......Many of the biggest US technology companies have endured a difficult year, facing allegations of not protecting customer data, failing to prevent Russian interference in American democracy and showing political bias.

In response, several have beefed up their lobbying operations in Washington as they look to engage more with politicians, having previously preferred to operate under the radar. .....Experts say the hirings reflect a growing belief that competition policy could become the next significant political battleground....The European Commission has investigated US technology companies for alleged anti-competitive behaviour. Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, is bringing cases against Google and is looking into Amazon.

Such cases have been more difficult to pursue in the US, where the law is focused more on whether anti-competitive behaviour is keeping prices artificially high.

A group of younger progressive regulators and politicians have argued in recent years, however, that technology companies that give their services away for free but dominate their markets should come in for as much attention.....Rohit Chopra, a Federal Trade Commissioner in his mid-30s, for example, recently hired Lina Khan, a 29-year-old policy thinker who has argued that large technology companies can both bring prices down and be harmful to society in general.
Amazon  antitrust  AT&T  Big_Tech  competition_policy  corporate_concentration  Department_of_Justice  FAANG  Facebook  FTC  hiring  Lina_Khan  lawyers  lobbying  market_power  market_concentration  monopolies  platforms  regulation  regulators  revolving_door  under_the_radar 
december 2018 by jerryking
Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea - The New York Times
By David Streitfeld
Sept. 7, 2018

....... Ms. Khan wrote, that once-robust monopoly laws have been marginalized, Amazon is consequently able to amass so much structural power that let it exert increasing control over many parts of the economy. Amazon has so much data on so many customers, it is so willing to forgo profits, it is so aggressive and has so many advantages from its shipping and warehouse infrastructure that it exerts an influence much broader than its market share. It resembles the all-powerful railroads of the Progressive Era, .......The F.T.C. is holding a series of hearings this fall, the first of their type since 1995, on whether a changing economy requires changing enforcement attitudes.

The hearings will begin on Sept. 13 at Georgetown University Law Center. Two panels will debate whether antitrust should keep its narrow focus or, as Ms. Khan urges, expand its range.

“Ideas and assumptions that it was heretical to question are now openly being contested,” she said. “We’re finally beginning to examine how antitrust laws, which were rooted in deep suspicion of concentrated private power, now often promote it.”........Her Yale Law Journal paper argued that monopoly regulators who focus on consumer prices are thinking too short-term. In Ms. Khan’s view, a company like Amazon — one that sells things, competes against others selling things, and owns the platform where the deals are done — has an inherent advantage that undermines fair competition. “The long-term interests of consumers include product quality, variety and innovation — factors best promoted through both a robust competitive process and open markets,” she wrote.

The issue Ms. Khan’s article really brought to the fore is this: Do we trust Amazon, or any large company, to create our future?........ “It’s so much easier to teach public policy to people who already know how to write than teach writing to public policy experts,” said Mr. Lynn, a former journalist.

Ms. Khan wrote about industry consolidation and monopolistic practices for Washington publications that specialize in policy, went to Yale Law School, published her Amazon paper and then came back to Washington last year, just as interest was starting to swell in her work.... the F.T.C. needs to bring back a tool buried in its toolbox: its ability to make rules......“Amazon is not the problem — the state of the law is the problem, and Amazon depicts that in an elegant way,” she said......“could make sense” to treat Amazon’s e-commerce operation like a bridge, highway, port, power grid or telephone network — all of which are required to allow access to their infrastructure on a nondiscriminatory basis.
Amazon  antitrust  breakthroughs  FTC  ideas  lawyers  Lina_Khan  monopolies  platforms  retailers  regulators  reframing  Yale 
september 2018 by jerryking
How Should Antitrust Regulators Check Silicon Valley’s Ambitions? - The New York Times
By Hernan Cristerna
July 3, 2018

The question is: At what point should regulators step in to check the ambitions of the tech giants--Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google? Those five companies hold considerable influence over the internet......the United States needs an approach to merger regulation that protects consumers by supporting transactions that create enterprises capable of standing head-to-head with the tech giants.

The decision to allow AT&T to acquire Time Warner is a step in this direction. So was the decision to approve Disney’s purchase of much of 21st Century Fox.

In a rapidly transforming marketplace, regulators should enable incumbents to stand up to the largest tech companies that are using new technologies — such as cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence — to upend existing industries.....
“Old economy” companies must be allowed to combine in order to increase their scale and innovation capabilities so that they are on a level playing field with the tech giants.....Regulators must now take notice of the verdict in the AT&T case so that they can calibrate their approach in the next round of transactions.
21st_Century_Fox  antitrust  regulation  regulators  platforms  Department_of_Justice  AT&T  Time_Warner  FAANG 
july 2018 by jerryking
The case for ending Amazon’s dominance
January 18, 2018 FT | Tim Harford.

Amazon offers:
* consumers, choice and convenience and a shopping search engine that is Google’s only serious rival,
* start-ups cheap, flexible cloud computing services to start and scale up.
competitors, e.g. Walmart tough competition,
* television networks, a tough competitor,
* Apple loyalists, a competing tablet computers at a price to make stop and think.

economists argue that corporate America is underinvesting.....rather than take a long-term view.......Amazon should be the shining counterexample....The online retailer’s strategy is driven not by short-term profit but by investment, innovation and growth. If only there were a few more companies like Amazon, capitalism would be in a happier spot. But there’s the rub: there aren’t more companies like it. It’s unique, and an increasingly terrifying force in online commerce. Should regulators act? If so, how?....

Begin by disposing of a poor argument: that Amazon must be challenged because it makes life miserable for its competitors, some of which are plucky mom-and-pop operations. However emotionally appealing this might seem, it should not be the business of regulators to prop up such businesses......Antitrust authorities should not be in the business of making life easy for incumbents. What, then, should they do? There are two schools of thought. One is to focus on consumers’ interest in quality, variety and price. This has been the standard approach in US antitrust policy for several decades. Since Amazon makes slim profits and charges low prices, it raises few antitrust questions.

The alternative view — which harks back to an earlier era of antitrust during which Standard Oil and later AT&T were broken up — argues that competition is inherently good even if it is hard to quantify a benefit to consumers and that society should be wary of large or dominant companies even if their behaviour seems benign. ....The narrowing in antitrust thinking is described by Lina Khan in a much-read article, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox”. Ms Khan berates modern antitrust thinking for its “hostility to false positives”.....Tim Harford disagrees, he shares modern antitrust’s hostility to false positives; there is a real cost to cumbersome and unnecessary meddling in a dynamic and rapidly evolving marketplace. US president Donald Trump’s history of publicly attacking Mr Bezos is worth pondering too: Harford asks, "do we really want the US government to have more discretion as to who is targeted, and why?"....Yet for all this,Tim Harford remains deeply uneasy about Amazon’s apparently unassailable position in online retail. Yes, customers are being well served at the moment. Yet the company has acquired formidable entrenched advantages, from the information about customers and the suppliers who sell through it, to the bargaining power it has over delivery companies, to the vast network of warehouses. Those advantages were earned, but they can also be abused.

Antitrust authorities face a difficult balancing act. Regulate Amazon and you may snuff out the innovation that we all say we want more of. Punish it for success and you send a strange message to entrepreneurs and investors. Ignore it and you risk leaving vital services in the hands of an invincible monopolist.

There are no easy options, but it is time to look for a way to split Amazon into two independent companies, each with the strength to grow and invest. If Amazon is such a wonderful company, wouldn’t two Amazons be even better?
Amazon  antitrust  AWS  contra-Amazon  competition  regulators  informational_advantages  Lina_Khan  mom-and-pop  platforms  predatory_practices  Tim_Harford 
january 2018 by jerryking
SEC Chief Wants Investors to Better Understand Cyberrisk - WSJ
Sept. 5, 2017 | WSJ | By Dave Michaels.

The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday that regulators and Wall Street need to do more to educate investors about the serious risks that companies and the financial system face from cyberintrusions.

Jay Clayton, speaking at an event sponsored by New York University’s School of Law, said investors still don’t fully appreciate the threat posed by hackers. “I am not comfortable that the American investing public understands the substantial risk that we face systemically from cyber issues and I would like to see better disclosure around that,” Mr. Clayton said.
SEC  cyber_security  cyberthreats  cyberrisks  risks  hackers  cyberintrusions  regulators  Wall_Street  data_breaches  disclosure  under_appreciated  financial_system 
september 2017 by jerryking
Lex. London and Europe:hard-wired advantages
July 7, 2017 | Financial Times | Lex.

This hints at a wider strength. Laying cables across the sea was a high-risk venture in the 1850s. The risk was deemed worth taking because London was the financial centre of a trading empire. The city’s present-day concentration of expertise in areas like forex, trade finance, risk management, insurance and law is also a function of this mercantile history. Other European financial centres tend to have more specific strengths, such as asset management in Dublin and Luxembourg, or banking in Frankfurt.

More fibre could be installed across Europe, but that alone will not alter much. Europe’s politicians and regulators will find it harder to replicate London’s other strengths, however much they may wish to capitalise on the UK’s departure from the EU or secure regulatory oversight of euro-related clearing.

Their best hope of doing so is ham-fisted policymaking in the UK. There are precedents aplenty. President John Kennedy gifted London the Eurobond market in the 1960s. The Parti Québécois helped Toronto supplant Montreal as Canada’s financial capital in the 1980s. It is much easier to drive business away than it is to attract it — something the UK government, pondering its “red lines” over things like immigration and the remit of the ECJ, should bear in mind.
transatlantic  London  ECB  regulators  policymaking  competitive_advantage  epicenters  Brexit  poaching  red_lines 
august 2017 by jerryking
Yale to Build Tool Offering Real-Time Lessons on Financial Crises -
May 9, 2017 | WSJ | By Gabriel T. Rubin.

Yale University will launch an online platform to provide real-time support to policy makers dealing with financial crises, with the help of a $10 million gift from business leaders and philanthropists Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

The gift represents a major expansion of the Yale Program on Financial Stability, a degree-granting program in the university’s school of management that aims to train early- and midcareer financial regulators from around the globe.

The new resources will support a small staff of researchers, led by Professor Andrew Metrick, as they build a database of “lessons from hundreds of interventions from past crises,” the university said. The effort is the first of its kind, according to Yale, and reflects a need for more research on “wartime” situations, rather than the preventive sort of regulatory research done by central banks around the world. Central banks often avoid extensive crisis preparations out of reluctance to promote moral hazard, leaving policy makers to reinvent the wheel each time a new crisis arises.....Mr. Geithner, who serves as the chairman of the Program on Financial Stability, said that he and other policy makers would have been able to act faster and with greater confidence during the financial crisis with access to the tools that Mr. Metrick’s team will build.

“There were probably four or five periods when the crisis was escalating, the panic was spreading, sitting on the phone for 20 hours a day trying to figure out how to do things,” Mr. Geithner recalled. “And we hadn’t had to do some of those things since the Great Depression. That took us a lot of time, and that can be costly.”

The open online platform will include descriptions of specific interventions—for example, the use of a “bad bank” to hold distressed assets—and will detail what did and didn’t work well in each case.
Yale  Colleges_&_Universities  crisis  regulators  Walter_Bagehot  central_banks  real-time  databases  lessons_learned  policy_tools  Peter_Peterson  reinventing_the_wheel  policymakers  confidence  economic_downturn  decision_making  speed  the_Great_Depression  crisis_management  crisis_response  Tim_Geithner  moral_hazards  financial_crises 
may 2017 by jerryking
Canada's big banks are no angels, but have any laws been broken? - The Globe and Mail
BARRIE MCKENNA
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Mar. 17, 2017

Media reports high-pressure sales tactics at Toronto-Dominion Bank and other Canadian financial institutions. Stories of tellers signing up customers to high-fee accounts and credit cards without their knowledge. Loan officers pushing clients to take on lines of credit they don’t want or need. And financial advisers selling unsuitable mutual funds to vulnerable investors. Sleazy behaviour, if true. Perhaps even illegal. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada this week warned banks to behave and launched a review of their consent and disclosure practices. .......The big banks are no angels. But what’s happening here looks a lot more like a labour-relations feud than a financial scandal. Employees are rebelling against a cutthroat sales culture that has permeated the once-staid retail operations of the big banks.

The workplace environment at TD and other major banks may well be toxic for many employees, who feel unduly stressed about meeting aggressive sales goals.
Canada  banks  Bay_Street  financial_services  toxic_behaviors  predatory_practices  regulators  organizational_culture  workplaces  disclosure  complaints  consent  consumer_protection  sleaze  Barrie_McKenna 
march 2017 by jerryking
Regulator Will Start Issuing Bank Charters for Fintech Firms - WSJ
By RACHEL WITKOWSKI, TELIS DEMOS and PETER RUDEGEAIR
Updated Dec. 2, 2016
regulation  regulators  fin-tech 
march 2017 by jerryking
With Competition in Tatters, the Rip of Inequality Widens - The New York Times
Eduardo Porter
ECONOMIC SCENE JULY 12, 2016

The new merger amounts to another step in the long decline of competition in many American industries.

It is a decline that stunts entrepreneurship, hinders workers’ mobility and slows productivity growth. Slowing this trend has emerged as a tempting new avenue to address the plight of a beleaguered working class. Reviving flagging American competition might even help stop America’s ever-widening inequality.

In April, President Obama issued an executive order calling on government agencies to look for ways to bolster competition in the industries they monitor.....There is plenty of evidence that corporate concentration is on the rise. Mr. Furman and Mr. Orszag report that between 1997 and 2007 the market share of the 50 largest companies increased in three-fourths of the broad industry sectors followed by the census......Studies have found increased concentration in agricultural businesses and wireless communications as well.....but is competition policy about increasing the economy’s efficiency, or is it about changing the distribution of the spoils....should antitrust be a major tool for addressing inequality?....How did the American economy get so concentrated? Technology surely helped. Tech giants like Google and Facebook benefit from economies of scale and network effects. ....Government watchdogs also messed up....How to fix corporate concentration? In industries perceived to be fairly concentrated, presume future mergers will be anticompetitive, take the burden of proof off the regulator’s shoulders and putting the onus on the merging companies to prove it is not....Regulations can also be tool: How about demanding that the FDA approve generic drugs more quickly?
competition  antitrust  monopolies  anticompetitive_behaviour  collusion  market_power  corporate_concentration  economies_of_scale  network_effects  platforms  income_inequality  regulators  regulation  competition_policy 
july 2016 by jerryking
When Uber and Airbnb Meet the Real World - NYTimes.com
OCT. 17, 2014 | NYT | Claire Cain Miller.

Why have these companies run into so many problems? Part of the reason is that they think of themselves as online companies — yet they mostly operate in the offline world.

They subscribe to three core business principles that have become a religion in Silicon Valley: Serve as a middleman, employ as few people as possible and automate everything. Those tenets have worked wonders on the web at companies like Google and Twitter. But as the new, on-demand companies are learning, they are not necessarily compatible with the real world....The belief that problems can be solved without involving people is probably why many of these companies did not meet with regulators and officials before starting services in new cities. And it has come back to haunt them. Luther Lowe, director of public policy at Yelp, had some basic advice for Uber that could apply to Airbnb, Lyft and others: Hire a lobbyist and meet with the mayor and the city council before setting up shop....DESPITE these three major differences between web companies and the ones that bridge the digital and physical worlds, they all share another guiding Silicon Valley principle: the belief that if enough people want to use a product, the company will succeed....Julie Samuels is the executive director of Engine, which advises start-ups on policy...another principle shared by both older and newer tech companies: Regulators are little more than roadblocks standing in the way of innovation.
meat_space  in_the_real_world  Uber  Airbnb  Claire_Cain_Miller  Silicon_Valley  on-demand  lobbyists  regulators  analog  physical_assets  physical_world  physical_economy  cyberphysical 
october 2014 by jerryking
Technology will hurt the banks, not kill them
October 15, 2014 | FT.com |John Gapper

Does Silicon Valley really want to blow up retail banking and create an entirely new financial system, or would it prefer to ride on the existing one?...Mr Andreessen, a partner of the venture fund Andreessen Horowitz, added in an interview with Bloomberg Markets magazine last week: “To me, it’s all about unbundling the banks. There are regulatory arbitrage opportunities every step of the way. If the regulators are going to regulate banks, then you’ll have non-bank entities that spring up to do the things that banks can’t do.”...There is no doubt that the infrastructure of retail banks is antiquated, and is built in a way that invites competition from peer-to-peer networks. Nor is there a doubt that banks make themselves vulnerable by how they price – offering core deposit services cheaply or free while squeezing customers on ancillary products such as overdrafts and currency exchange....what is the best way to compete with an industry that makes little from a capital-intensive, regulated service with formidable barriers to entry, and a lot from less protected add-ons? The question answers itself, which is why Silicon Valley focuses on payments while talking about disrupting lending....US laws made it impossible to establish a national credit union open to any customer....One growth area in UK finance has been online payday lending by companies such as Wonga, which promised to extend banking to the underserved. ... tech companies can improve on credit scoring by scanning search histories and social network data...The biggest barrier to competition is that the core business of taking in deposits and keeping them safe is not very profitable in a low-interest world....A start-up bank that has no branches and spends less on patching up legacy software might do this more efficiently – and good luck to those that penetrate the regulatory thicket and try. But it is much less risky to attach a new service to the existing banking infrastructure, and it absorbs less capital....Technology may eventually change the infrastructure of banking but it will not happen soon....“is a long-term threat that will play out over decades, not months or years”...Silicon Valley will compete at the edges, where banks make their best profits.
banks  Silicon_Valley  Marc_Andreessen  Andreessen_Horowitz  disruption  fin-tech  start_ups  Bitcoin  financial_services  underserved  unbanked  regulators  P2P  payday_lending  credit_scoring  low-interest  branchless  capital-intensity  legacy_tech  regulatory_arbitrage  financial_system 
october 2014 by jerryking
The FDIC's Sheila Bair: Going bare-knuckled against Wall Street - The Globe and Mail
Jun. 22 2013 | The Globe and Mail | KEVIN CARMICHAEL.

Deposit insurance agencies are vital to the smooth functioning of the financial system. Without them, banks would face cascading withdrawals at the first whisper of trouble. Yet within the constellation of financial regulators, deposit insurance agencies are more like Mars or Venus, dominated by the Jupiter-like presences of the finance ministries, central banks and securities commissions....Sherrod Brown and David Vitter, Democratic and Republican senators respectively, have co-sponsored legislation that would force the biggest banks to hold equity equal to 15 per cent of assets, which is much more onerous than current law. An idea that Ms. Bair long has advocated as a way to make the biggest banks less risky – forcing them to hold higher levels of long-term debt – is catching on with policy makers.....How did it get so bad? Ms. Bair has a theory. Over eggs and oatmeal in December, she explained what it was like to be on Capitol Hill in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, made an agreement to overhaul the tax code. That generation of leaders was influenced by the Second World War; many had fought in it. Such experience teaches you to “put country first,” Ms. Bair says. “We’re the pampered Baby Boom generation. We’re not willing to make the sacrifices as much as our parents were.”
too_big_to_fail  FDIC  financial_system  Sheila_Bair  profile  women  Wall_Street  WWII  the_Greatest_Generation  regulators  sacrifice  baby_boomers  Kevin_Carmichael  shared_experiences  shared_consciousness  policymaking  tax_codes 
june 2013 by jerryking
Bar is high for Carney on world stage
Apr. 18 2013| The Globe and Mail |CHRYSTIA FREELAND.

One of the analytical mistakes made before the financial crisis was to believe that efficient markets were perfect and that private bankers could police themselves. Refreshingly, Mr. Carney isn’t making the same error in reverse. He is a believer in regulation and has embraced it at its most complex, global, scale.

But he said regulators need to be watchful of the unintended consequences of their rules and mindful of the feedback loops between their actions and private markets. The relationship between markets and governments is a complicated process that requires eternal vigilance and constant tweaks.
Chrystia_Freeland  Mark_Carney  central_banking  central_banks  regulators  feedback_loops  unintended_consequences  world_stage 
april 2013 by jerryking
In London, Nimble Start-Ups Offer Alternatives to Stodgy Banks
October 22, 2012 | NYT |By MARK SCOTT.

London’s fast-growing start-up scene is trying to disrupt the financial status quo. As consumers’ trust in banks deteriorates because of a series of recent scandals, young companies are pressing their newcomer advantage. Firms are offering services like low-cost foreign currency exchange and new ways for small business to borrow cash.

Backed by venture capital firms like Index Ventures, the financial start-ups are taking on entrenched incumbents by using technology to pare back costs and improve the customer experience. Local authorities do not directly regulate many of the firms, but the young companies often use traditional banks and other financial firms for their back-office functions, like processing payments, which are monitored by British regulators.
London  United_Kingdom  start_ups  banks  financial_services  finance  regulators  mobile_applications  fin-tech  foreign_exchange  nimbleness  back-office 
october 2012 by jerryking
With a Long List but Short on Money, F.D.A. Tackles Food Safety - NYTimes.com
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
August 22, 2011

A landmark food safety law passed by Congress last December is supposed
to reduce the frequency and severity of food safety problems, but the
roll call of recent cases underlines the magnitude of the task....The
agency is taking on the expanded mission at a time when Washington
budget-slashing means that regulators have little hope of getting
additional money and may instead have their budgets cut by Congress....A
budget freeze or cuts would have the greatest impact on the ambitious
increase in inspections called for under the new law, which ramp up each
year.

“Writing rules is inexpensive (jk: i.e. policymaking is easy); enforcing them is expensive (jk i.e. implementation is hard), said David W. Acheson, a former associate commissioner of the F.D.A. who is now a
food safety consultant. “There will be a public health impact because
enforcement won’t be to the extent they want to do it.”
product_recalls  implementation  food_safety  hard_work  FDA  cost-cutting  policymaking  public_health  enforcement  regulation  pairs  frequency_and_severity  regulators  cutbacks  quotes  rule-writing  budget_cuts 
august 2011 by jerryking
A good PR consultant is worth paying for: The Entrepreneur
08 Dec 2010 | FT| Luke. Johnson. Having owned PR firms, I
know it can be an attractive investment. Clients are on contracts with
monthly retainers, so no feast & famine of advertising campaigns.
Expenses are staff & premises. A consumer PR agency should generate
20 % net profit margins on revenue; a financial PR agency 30 %.

PR is one of the few segments of the marketing services industry that
has benefited from the digital revolution. Most participants, including
advertising agencies, media buying shops and design houses, have
suffered, as spend on traditional media such as TV and press has been
squeezed....The growing importance of PR in business and society is
exemplified by the power of kings of the trade such as Alan Parker at
Brunswick and Roland Rudd at Finsbury. Both have incredible connections
in the City, Wall Street, industry & politics. The sector has moved
on from spin to embrace communications with investors, regulators,
politicians and other discreet audiences.
Luke_Johnson  public_relations  ProQuest  mass_media  Finsbury  Wall_Street  professional_service_firms  margins  Communicating_&_Connecting  investors  regulators  politicians  financial_communications  digital_revolution 
august 2011 by jerryking
Crovitz: Antitrust Laws Don’t Make Sense with 21st Century Technology - WSJ.com
AUGUST 3, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | By L. GORDON
CROVITZ. The Antitrust Anachronism: When will technology’s ever faster
cycles of creative destruction spell the end of antitrust law? The
Sherman Act and later antitrust laws were supposed to protect consumer
interests. That’s not so easy when regulators have to deal with
industries as different as oil, with its cartels and long product
cycles, and technology, where fast change is a constant necessity for
survival....the traditional approach to antitrust makes no sense in an
industry like technology, in which new entrants routinely topple
seemingly invincible market leaders....Scale matters...The size of the
audience is important...The bottom line is that by the time regulators
can assess a technology market, the market has often moved on.

*
antitrust  competition  21st._century  product_cycles  creative_destruction  regulation  L._Gordon_Crovtiz  constant_change  scaling  new_entrants  accelerated_lifecycles  regulators  market_leadership  cartels  consumer_protection  consumer_interests  market_sizing 
august 2010 by jerryking
Off the Shelf - ‘Fault Lines’ Concludes Global Economy Remains Vulnerable - NYTimes.com
July 31, 2010 | NYT | By NANCY F. KOEHN reviews “Fault Lines:
How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy” by Raghuram G.
Rajan who concludes that the financial crisis erupted “because in an
integrated economy and in an integrated world, what is best for the
individual actor or institution is not always best for the system.” Like
geological fault lines, the fissures in the world economic sys. are
more hidden and widespread than many realize. And they are potentially
more destructive than other culprits, e.g greedy bankers, sleepy
regulators and irresponsible borrowers. Rajan, a finance prof at the U.
of Chicago and former chief economist at the IMF argues that the
actions of these players (and others) unfolded on a larger worldwide
stage, that is subject to the imperatives of political economies. He
cites 3 fault lines: domestic political stresses; trade imbalances among
countries; and the tensions produced when financial sys. with very
different structures interact.
book_reviews  economic_downturn  financial_crises  crisis  threats  interconnections  interdependence  books  systemic_risks  vulnerabilities  fault_lines  hidden  latent  regulators  uChicago  global_economy  imbalances 
august 2010 by jerryking
The Regulation Crisis: A failure of economic and environmental regulation
June 14, 2010 | The New Yorker | by James Surowiecki.
As Carpenter argues in a recent essay, successful regulation, by filling
information gaps and managing risk, fosters confidence in the safety
and honesty of markets, which in turn makes them bigger and more robust.
The pharmaceutical industry, for instance, would be much smaller if
people were seriously worried that they might be poisoned every time
they took a new drug. And though executives chafe at financial
regulation, the protection it provides makes investors far more likely
to hand them money to play with. If we want our regulators to do better,
we have to embrace a simple idea: regulation isn’t an obstacle to
thriving free markets; it’s a vital part of them.
confidence  regulation  James_Surowiecki  free_markets  economics  investors  politics  SEC  oil_spills  BP  information_gaps  pharmaceutical_industry  regulators 
june 2010 by jerryking
Gulf Oil Spill's Fallout Widens Debate on Government's Proper Role - WSJ.com
MAY 28, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By GERALD F. SEIB. New
Rules in an Old Tug-of-War. A presidential commission soon will put
the relationship (govt.-offshore oil industry) in therapy. The risk is
that the wrong question may dominate the coming discussion—namely,
whether there was too little regulation of the offshore oil industry.
The better question is less about quantity than quality: Were
regulations smart and up to date? They almost certainly weren't. ...The
broader point is that the BP oil spill is just the latest in a series of
traumatic events forcing a rethink of government's relationship with
business. Bank bailouts, energy plans, auto-maker rescues, Toyota
accelerator problems: All have forced both politicians and average
Americans to rethink the proper role of government in the private
economy.
bailouts  Gerald_Seib  government  private_sector  BP  oil_spills  regulation  event-driven  events  regulators  business-government_relations  politicians  offshore  offshore_drilling  questions 
may 2010 by jerryking
Op-Ed Columnist - The Goldman Drama - NYTimes.com
April 26, 2010 | NYT | By DAVID BROOKS. Between 1997 and
2006, consumers, lenders and builders created a housing bubble, and
pretty much the entire establishment (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, their
regulators, the big commercial banks and their regulators, The Fed.,
the ratings agencies, the SEC and the political class in general )
missed it....Outside the establishment herd, on the other hand, there
were contrarians who understood the bubble (which was the easy part) and
who figured out how to take counteraction (which was hard).... it would
be smart to decentralize authority in order to head off future bubbles.
Both Gregory Mankiw of Harvard and Sebastian Mallaby of the CFR have
been promoting a way to do this: Force the big financial institutions to
issue bonds that would be converted into equity when a regulator deems
them to have insufficient capital. Thousands of traders would buy and
sell these bonds as a way to measure and reinforce the stability of the
firms.
David_Brooks  Goldman_Sachs  contrarians  bubbles  regulators  capital_adequacy  bonds  equity 
april 2010 by jerryking
Book Review: "The Laws of Disruption" - WSJ.com
OCTOBER 12, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | by JEREMY PHILIPS who
reviews The Laws of Disruption, By Larry Downes
Basic, 298 pages, $26.95. The central thesis of "The Laws of
Disruption" is that "technology changes exponentially, but social,
economic and legal systems change incrementally." When it comes to the
digital revolution, Mr. Downes says, our laws have not kept pace with
the changes that it has brought about. Downes counsels that authorities
(regulators and judges) use a light touch--as opposed to introducing
ever new laws and regulations --because the rapid pace of change makes
it impossible to predict the course of technology.
book_reviews  disruption  innovation  Internet  technological_change  intellectual_property  structural_change  regulation  competitive_landscape  incrementalism  regulators  books  digital_disruption  digital_revolution 
october 2009 by jerryking
Easy Credit and the Depression - WSJ.com
MAY 5, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | by L. GORDON CROVITZ.
Judge Richard Posner's "A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of '08 and
the Descent into Depression". Explains behavior that looks irrational in
retrospect shows that it was logical, based on incentives at the time.
Prevention requires regulators with access to public and private
information to track systemic risk and clear, predictable rules for how
the Federal Reserve and other regulators would respond to various risk
situations.
L._Gordon_Crovtiz  economic_downturn  Richard_A._Posner  risks  book_reviews  credit  predictability  failure  U.S._Federal_Reserve  regulators  incentives  information  information_flows  irrationality  systemic_risks  causality  public_information  private_information  hindsight  rules-based 
may 2009 by jerryking
Preparing for the Next Crisis: Preventing the Next Fire While This One Blazes
MARCH 12, 2009 WSJ column by by DAVID WESSEL. Identifies some
fundamental questions that should be addressed as officials think
through improvements to the financial regulatory framework.

Preventing all future crises is not the goal. That would be the equivalent of banning stoves and furnaces: We'd have fewer destructive fires but we'd be cold and miserable. The goal is to prevent mishaps from burning down the world economy. Here are three of the threshold questions that need pondering:

(1) Who shall be saved, and who shall be allowed to die?

(2) How paternalistic should regulation be, and who should be the parent?

(3) Can we install air bags in the financial system that deploy automatically?
financial_institutions  frameworks  regulation  David_Wessel  hard_choices  think_threes  financial_system  regulators  questions  crisis  preparation  circuit_breakers  hard_questions 
march 2009 by jerryking

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