Bloomberg Businessweek: How ‘Big Is Bad’ Has Become a Big, Big Deal

October 26, 2020 Media

The subcommittee’s recommendations were featured in an article by the Stigler Center of the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago—which, by the way, has become a lot more heterodox since the days of Milton Friedman, Aaron Director, and Betty Bock. “Upon careful reading, it becomes abundantly clear that the sagacious intellectual fingerprints of Lina Khan, who served as staff counsel during the investigation, can be traced throughout this pathbreaking portion of the report,” says the Stigler Center article by Shaoul Sussman.

Most remarkable is that the Republicans on the subcommittee went along with most of the findings and several of the recommendations—including shifting the burden of proof onto merging companies—while disagreeing with some of its recommendations, such as further opening up companies to class-action lawsuits. A report (PDF) by four Republicans, led by Ken Buck of Colorado, ranged far beyond standard concerns about price and choice, saying the majority staff report “offers a chilling look into how Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook have used their power to control how we see and understand the world.”

A sea change in attitude among lawmakers matters even if judges haven’t changed their thinking, because “if the laws are misinterpreted by courts, Congress is the only actor that can fix their mistakes,” Khan writes in an email.

Wu is happy to have Khan on the Columbia Law School faculty because there’s a lot to be done to match the Chicago School’s depth and breadth of legal analysis. Fortunately, he says, the two are far from alone at Columbia. Scholars with overlapping interests include Anu Bradford, Katharina Pistor, Jens Frankenreiter, and Kate Waldock in the law school; Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz in the economics department; and Nicholas Lemann and historian Richard John in the journalism school. While Covid-19 has put a damper on spontaneous collaboration, Wu says, “No question, having everyone around makes your head spin faster.”

Beyond Columbia, scholars at law schools who are spinning out new theories of antitrust in various directions include Maurice Stucke at the University of Tennessee, Ganesh Sitaraman at Vanderbilt, Zephyr Teachout at Fordham, Sanjukta Paul at Wayne State University, Barak Orbach at the University of Arizona, Eleanor Fox at New York University, and Frank Pasquale and Sabeel Rahman at Brooklyn Law School. Wu and Khan also cite Marshall Steinbaum in the University of Utah’s economics department; Barry Lynn and Sandeep Vaheesan of the Open Markets Institute; and Matt Stoller at the American Economic Liberties Project, among others.