In this podcast episode, AAI President Diana Moss and enforcement experts, Stephen Calkins and Benjamin Elga, unpack antitrust enforcement in markets involving products that have outsized implications for society, human health, and vulnerable groups. We call these markets with high social impact. Antitrust enforcement is designed to deter and remedy harmful, anti-competitive mergers and conduct while remaining agnostic to the markets in which competitive concerns arise. But there are some markets where higher prices might beneficially reduce demand for products or services that have adverse effects on society or human health, such as cigarettes, sugar, or violent video games. Similarly, antitrust could be more aggressive, in some cases, to protect vulnerable consumer groups. Lifeline wireless service and prison inmate calling services are leading examples. This episode approaches the issue from both the public and private enforcement perspective. We ask how enforcers think about cases involving such markets, examine the policy implications of enforcement choices, and discuss other competition policy tools that are available to address them.
Stephen Calkins is Professor Law at Wayne State University. A former General Counsel of the Federal Trade Commission and member of The Competition Authority of Ireland, Calkins has testified before Congress and federal and state agencies; is a prolific author of books and articles in leading academic and specialty journals; and recipient of numerous awards.
Benjamin Elga is Executive Director of Justice Catalyst and Justice Catalyst Law. His focus is on impact litigation and innovation in legal practice. Previously, Ben worked to bring antitrust and consumer class actions at Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, resulting in the recall of thousands of defective cars and the return of unfairly depressed nurse wages.