Jerry S. Cohen Award for Antitrust Scholarship Selects Winning Articles Highlighting Labor and U.S. Airline Industry

Two outstanding articles will be presented the Jerry S. Cohen Award for Antitrust Scholarship at the American Antitrust Institute’s Annual Policy Conference on June 20. The Cohen Award was created through a trust established in memory of the late Jerry S. Cohen, an outstanding trial lawyer and antitrust writer. It is administered by the law firm he founded, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll.

Suresh Naidu, Eric A. Posner, and Glen Weyl will be honored for their article “Antitrust Remedies for Labor Market Power,” 132 Harv. L. Rev. 536 (2018). Although the antitrust laws prohibit firms from restricting competition in labor markets as in product markets, the government does little to address the labor market problem, and private litigation has been rare and mostly unsuccessful. One reason is that the analytic methods for evaluating labor market power in antitrust contexts are far less sophisticated than the legal rules used to judge product market power. To remedy this asymmetry, the authors propose methods for judging the effects of mergers on labor markets and also extend their approach to other forms of anticompetitive practices undertaken by employers against workers.

Jose Azar, Martin C. Schmalz, and Isabel Tecu will be honored for their article “Anticompetitive Effects of Common Ownership,” 73 J. of Finance 1513 (2018). Many competitors are jointly held by a small set of large institutional investors. Theory predicts that common ownership of competitors can reduce firms’ incentives to compete. Using an empirical study of the U.S. airline industry, the authors find that changes in common ownership concentration in a given airline route are associated with changes in ticket prices in the same route. By conducting a large number of placebo and robustness tests, the authors are able to reject many of the alternative explanations undermining the inference that common ownership causes higher prices. The authors conclude that a hidden social cost—reduced product market competition—accompanies the private benefits of diversification and good governance.

The Cohen Award is given each year to the best antitrust writing during the prior year that is consistent with the following standards established by the Board of Trustees of the Jerry S. Cohen Memorial Fund: “To be considered eligible and selected for the Award, submissions should reflect a concern for principles of economic justice; the dispersal of economic power; and the maintenance of effective limitations upon economic power or the federal statutes designed to protect society from various forms of anticompetitive activity. Submissions should reflect an awareness of the human and social impacts of economic institutions upon individuals, small businesses and other institutions necessary to the maintenance of a just and humane society—the values and concerns that Jerry S. Cohen dedicated his life and work to fostering. Submissions may address substantive, procedural or evidentiary matters that reflect these values and concerns.”

The award selection committee has also conferred six category awards, as follows:

The award committee consisted of Zachary Caplan, Warren Grimes, John Kirkwood, Robert Lande, Beth Farmer, Roger Noll, and Dan Small. Note: John Kirkwood and Robert Lande did not participate in the final deliberations because their own articles were under consideration.