“Hipster Antitrust” Comes for Joe Biden

By Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jason Karaian, Michael J. de la Merced, Lauren Hirsch & Ephrat Livni (New York Times)

Progressives want the president-elect to move leftward on competition rules, but he may pursue a more moderate path.

What’s next for the F.T.C.?

Joe Simons, the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, said in a speech yesterday that monopolies could “squash” smaller competitors by buying them, words seen as a warning for the agency’s expected lawsuit against Facebook. It also raises questions about how the agency will approach antitrust under a Biden administration, as the left wing of the Democratic Party pushes for even tougher reviews and enforcement of competition policy.

A debate has raged in antitrust circles between more laissez-faire conservatives and what’s become known as the progressive “hipster antitrust movement” that calls for a muscular overhaul of policy, especially when it comes to reining in Big Tech. As in other areas, President-elect Joe Biden will probably seek a moderate path between these competing ideologies, a source familiar with Mr. Biden’s thinking told DealBook.

The tables are turning. At the F.T.C., five commissioners — currently three Republicans and two Democrats — hash out ideological arguments in decisions and dissents. The Democrats, Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Slaughter, have often decried the majority’s “permissive” treatment of corporations, and one of them may soon lead the commission, if the chatter is to be believed.

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