Capital Calls: US antitrust

FTC Commissioner nominee Lina M. Khan testifies during a Senate committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 21, 2021. Graeme Jennings/Pool via REUTERS

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REGULATING THE REGULATORS. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has been a bit too sleepy in the past. That was the message of would-be commissioner Lina Khan, who made a splash as a law student with an article outlining an antitrust case read more against (AMZN.O). Her comments during her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday portend a more muscular agency.

She said the FTC missed opportunities when it came to past merger reviews. She also noted that the agency has been slow to keep up with changing market dynamics, particularly in the technology sector. Over the last 15 years, the commission has approved Facebook’s (FB.O) acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp, the sale of Whole Foods to Amazon and Google’s purchase of YouTube, both now part of the Alphabet (GOOGL.O) group.

This might sound bad for the tech firms. In a way it is, because future mergers will get closer scrutiny. But Khan’s message is more nuanced: she is suggesting that the companies’ behavior was enabled by a too-limp watchdog. That puts the FTC, as well as the companies it oversees, on notice. (By Gina Chon)

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Earlier in Capital Calls:

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Robots and fund managers can get along read more

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