Review of Industrial Organization 21: 357–371, 2002.
© 2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Current Economic Issues at the FTC
DAVID T. SCHEFFMAN and MARY T. COLEMAN
Bureau of Economics, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Washington, DC
Abstract. This paper provides a summary of recent economic issues of particular interest in the
Bureau of Economics (“BE”) of the FTC. Further development of empirical analyses suitable for
antitrust investigations is currently of particular interest to BE. This paper outlines several areas
where BE has focused in the past year including: (1) Unilateral effects; (2) coordinated interaction;
(3) merger retrospectives; (4) natural experiments; (5) price discrimination; (6) intellectual property;
(7) healthcare; and (8) energy. For each area, we discuss the issues under consideration, the work that
is being done, and what additional research would be useful.
Key words: Antitrust, econometrics, FTC, mergers.
I. Overview of the Bureau of Economics of the Federal Trade Commission
The Bureau of Economics (“BE”) of the Federal Trade Commission is probably
among the largest “industrial organization economics departments” in the world.
BE has approximately 70 Ph.D. economists. The economists work on antitrust
and consumer protection investigations and litigation and on FTC submissions to
regulatory authorities and state governments that advocate application of sound
competition-based and consumer protection principles, and they conduct research
on antitrust and consumer protection issues. BE has a long distinguished history
of publishing research reports, and working papers, and many BE economists have
published their research in economics journals and books. From its inception, the
FTC has as part of its mandate to conduct investigations and research relevant to
its antitrust and consumer protection mission. For example, early FTC studies were
important inputs into crafting the Packers and Stockyards Act.
The FTC is a small agency (about 1000 employees), and most of the profes-
sionals are lawyers (more than 450). The FTC, and particularly BE, have shrunk
since the early 1980s. Until the mid-1980s, BE had a division of economists whose
primary task was to conduct research. The shrinking of BE and the demands for
Dr. Scheffman is the Director of the Bureau of Economics at the Federal Trade Commission.
Dr. Coleman is the Deputy Director for Antitrust in the Bureau of Economics at the Federal Trade
Commission. The views and opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and are not
necessarily those of the Commission or any individual Commissioner. We thank Elizabeth Schneirov
for helpful comments.