Does Biden Competition Policy Harm Competition?

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Since George Stigler’s seminal article “The Theory of Economic Regulation”, scholars have recognized that regulation and regulatory agencies are often subject to capture by special interest groups in the industries they regulate. In July 2021, the Biden Administration released an Executive Order on Competition (EOC) which outlined a “whole of government” approach to addressing allegedly flagging competition in the U.S. economy. As part of this approach, the EOC specifically mentioned industries as targets for re-regulation including transportation, shipping, agriculture, and communications. Could these regulatory initiatives be counterproductive to the goal of increasing competition? To discuss this topic, Alden Abbott of the Mercatus Center will moderate a discussion with two distinguished scholars of regulation: Howard Beales III, former Director of the Bureau of Competition at the Federal Trade Commission and Professor Emeritus at George Washington university; and Mark Jamison, Gunter Professor of the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business.

Howard Beales taught in the School of Business at the George Washington University, from 1988 through 2019.  His research interests include a wide variety of consumer protection regulatory issues, including privacy, law and economics, and the regulation of advertising.  He has published numerous articles addressing these issues in academic journals. In 2020, he served as a member of the Consumer Financial Protection Board’s Taskforce on Federal Consumer Financial Law.

From 2001 through 2004, Dr. Beales served as the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission.  In that capacity, he was instrumental in redirecting the FTC’s privacy agenda to focus on the consequences of the use and misuse of consumer information.  During his tenure, the Commission proposed, promulgated, and implemented the national Do Not Call Registry.  He also worked with Congress and the Administration to develop and implement the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, and testified before Congress on numerous occasions.  His aggressive law enforcement program produced the largest redress orders in FTC history and attacked high volume frauds promoted through heavy television advertising.

Dr. Beales also worked at the FTC from 1977 to 1987, as a staff economist, Assistant to the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Associate Director for Policy and Evaluation, and Acting Deputy Director.  In 1987-88, he was the Chief of the Human Resources and Housing Branch of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget. 

Howard Beales received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 1978.  He graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Economics in 1972.

Dr. Mark Jamison is the Gerald Gunter Professor and Director of the University of Florida’s Public Utility Research Center and the director of the university’s Digital Markets Initiative. He is also a Non-Resident Senior Fellow with the American Enterprise Institute. He is the co-founder of the Florida Blockchain Think Tank and of the Metaverse Think Tank. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Florida and writes on competition and innovation issues related to information technologies.