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Larry Summers Says White House Meddling In ‘Populist Antitrust’

 |  May 24, 2022

Economist Larry Summers has continued expressing his criticism of President Biden’s attempts to fight inflation, warning this week that his administration’s embrace of “hipster” antitrust policies could drive prices even higher, reported The New York Times.

Summers, who served as Treasury Secretary during the Clinton administration, noted the antitrust crackdown led by Biden’s Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission carries “real risks” during a period of persistent decades-high inflation.

“Policies that attack bigness can easily be inflationary if they prevent the exploitation of economies of scale or limit superstar firms,” Summers said in a Twitter thread.

His “hipster” critique was a response to Wednesday’s speech by Jonathan Kanter, head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, who said “corporate power has grown to levels that leave our fellow citizens concerned and confused.” Summers expressed concern that such judgments could lead to a dangerous populism.

The country’s top antitrust authorities, the Federal Trade Commission head Lina Khan and the Justice Department’s Jonathan Kanter, have been pushing for the government to have more authority to block corporate deals. But criticism is mounting that antitrust efforts have gone too far, the DealBook newsletter reports. Earlier this week, Lawrence H. Summers, a Harvard University professor and former top adviser in the Obama administration, tweeted that a new era of “populist antitrust policy” could lead to an economy that is “more inflationary and less resilient.”

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