Rev Ind Organ (2015) 46:1–3
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission at 100:
A Symposium on FTC Economics
Published online: 10 January 2015
© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015
It is a pleasure to introduce this mini-symposium on FTC economics as part of
the FTC’s centenary. While I was Director of the Bureau of Economics (BE), in
2009–2012, internal discussions of the centenary were already under way, and one
enthusiastic attorney emailed a wide internal distribution list remarking on that and
some other U.S. public policy events of 1914, remarking “What a great year!” The
many millions of victims of World War I would be less enthusiastic, but we commem-
orate the founding of one of the key consumer protection and competition institutions
of the United States.
Our symposium has three articles: by F. M. Scherer, by Michael Salinger and Robert
Levinson, and by Paul Pautler. Scherer and Salinger were among my distinguished
predecessors as BE Director; Levinson was an economist in BE; and Pautler was
among the most senior career BE economists, now recently retired from serving as
Deputy Director for consumer protection.
Scherer’s article describes two FTC cases that involved oligopoly coordination. Not
only is this an important topic for understanding oligopoly competitive performance,
but the cases also resonate with recent FTC concerns.
The “shared monopoly” cereals case involved conscious parallelism, as Scherer
discusses; but from today’s perspective it is mostly remembered for the distinctly
problematic nature of the alleged barrier to disruptive entry: offering the housewife
(sic) “too much choice” (sic!). Analytically, though, even if the incumbents forestalled
entry in a way that broadly offered consumer value, it is less clear whether that is a
sufﬁcient answer to questions about whether they also arranged matters so as not to
compete hard against one another—or whether the mergers that Scherer mentions
ought to have been allowed, had the Commission known how the industry might
behave once highly concentrated.
J. Farrell (
University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA