The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan recently spoke at the Economic Club of New York on Monday to discuss her agency’s policy on consumer protection and ensuring a fair and transparent marketplace. According to Bloomberg, Khan was joined by former White House Budget Director Peter Orszag, and she addressed a diverse group of topics from merger oversight to competition, and the FTC’s primary responsibility of safeguarding competition.
At the heart of the discussion was the agency’s stance on consolidation and monopoly power. Khan highlighted the agency’s progressive approach to antitrust enforcement citing the statutes that, “don’t prohibit being a monopoly, they only prohibit becoming a monopoly through illegal tactics,” and she explained that the FTC looks at mergers through a paradigm of competition. Regarding the new guidelines for mergers, Khan stated that considerations for the impact of competition for labor, and the negative impact of a series of mergers on competition, must be taken into account.
Of course, the new guidance has its fair share of critics, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business group Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley expressing his disapproval. Bradley argued that these guidelines are designed to chill merger activity which would “deny smaller companies access to the capital and expertise they need to grow and place U.S. businesses at a disadvantage with their global competitors.”
In response, Khan defended her agency’s record in court. She remarked that out of the thirteen to twenty cases brought up, the FTC has only lost two, claiming that “in the scheme of our merger enforcement program, losing two is okay.” Khan used the agency’s failed attempt to block Meta’s acquisition of Within Unlimited as an example of a case in which a judge rejected some of the Commission’s assertions.
The FTC Chairwoman furthermore addressed the low morale in her agency due to her critiques of the decisions from prior administrations. Despite the tension, the commission continues to seek the best outlets to facilitate corporate mergers and acquisitions. Khan has recognized the commercial necessity of acquiring these companies, as she further explained, “a lot depends on the circumstances of each case.” Khan also discussed updates to the merger filing form, which look to expedite the FTC’s review process.
In the end, the FTC Chairwoman has defended her agency from criticism and aimed to ensure a fair and transparent marketplace. She and her team task themselves with the task of safeguarding that both the statutes and consumers’ best interests are observed.