The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division Tuesday announced that they’ve initiated a joint public inquiry to curb illegal mergers.
According to the regulators, competition has reduced in numerous industries across the economy as they are becoming more concentrated, putting consumers, workers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses at risk of losing choice and economic gains. These issues are expected to continue or intensify in the future because of the current merger boom, which saw merger filings double from 2020 to 2021. The joint public inquiry is an action taken to counter these issues.
FTC Chair Lina M Khan said, “illegal mergers can inflict a host of harms, from higher prices and lower wages to diminished opportunity, reduced innovation, and less resiliency.” Khan further added that the public inquiry will “ensure that our merger guidelines accurately reflect modern market realities and equip us to forcefully enforce the law against unlawful deals.”
Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said:
We need to understand why so many industries have too few competitors, and to think carefully about how to ensure our merger enforcement tools are fit for purpose in the modern economy.
Through public inquiry, the regulators are looking for better ways to identify and prevent anticompetitive mergers in today’s modern markets. It also seeks new evidence on the effects of mergers in order to make amendments to the guidelines. Some of the specific areas of inquiry include unique characteristics of digital markets, the impact of monopsony power, and threats to potential and nascent competition.
The decision to launch the public inquiry aligns with President Biden’s executive order to promote competition in the American economy, which he signed in July 2021.