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Lina Khan And The FTC Go Back To The Antitrust Future

 |  January 31, 2023

By Timothy J. Muris, WSJ

President Biden rejects the economics-driven antitrust policies of the past 40 years. Flanked by his White House competition adviser and his new Federal Trade Commission chair, Lina Khan, in July 2021, he asserted that the “experiment failed” and promised to return to earlier antitrust “traditions.” In a new report for the American Enterprise Institute, I show that those traditions were abandoned for a reason: They harmed consumers.

Consider the Robinson-Patman Act of 1936, which reflected a theme of Mr. Biden’s enforcers: Big is bad. The “bigness” under attack was the new chain retailers, most notably the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. A&P, which closed the last of its stores in 2015, was America’s largest retailer from the 1920s until the mid-1960s. It and its imitators used vertical integration, economies of scale and greater reliance on data to provide attractive products at lower prices, especially benefiting the less wealthy. Traditional retailers and the middlemen who supplied them suffered, and became huge supporters of Robinson-Patman.

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