More on the debate on the consumer welfare standard

Antitrust populism and the consumer welfare standard: What are we actually debating?

Leon B. Greenfield
Perry A. Lange
Nicole Callan

“Initially evaluating proposals for consistency with the consumer welfare standard helps bring clarity to the debate. Mainstream commentators should recognize that addressing some antitrust-populist proposals requires more than simply defending the consumer welfare standard. Instead, mainstream commentators must evaluate these proposals on their merits, using the consumer welfare benchmark. Conversely, populists should recognize that overheated rhetoric or a shortage of specifics may cause mainstream commentators to dismiss their proposals too quickly or on grounds unmoored to the proposals’ merits. Populist proposals that truly depart from the consumer welfare standard would benefit from specificity and a rigorous explanation of why consumer welfare is not up to the job. And if populists would address concentration of economic power through non-antitrust solutions—e.g., sector specific regulation—they should clearly distinguish those solutions from an antitrust approach”

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