The emergence of large technology platforms-think Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook-is benefitting consumers and transforming the economy. It is also resulting in new policy debates about potential antitrust enforcement and the platform economy.
Thomas Lenard, senior fellow and president emeritus of the Technology Policy Institute, has been at the forefront of related scholarship, writing and speaking extensively on the platform economy, going back to the foundational Microsoft case.
Who better than Lenard to review scholarly thinking on current topics? However one answers that, there is no question that Lenard’s summary and analysis of current scholarship on these topics will be useful to policymakers, the media, and others struggling to keep up with current issues.
Lenard’s newest contribution appears in the Review of Industrial Organization, an international journal published for the Industrial Organization Society. In the introduction to the new Special Issue on Antitrust and the Platform Economy, he handles numerous topics: the role of economics and the consumer welfare standard in antitrust; lessons from historic antitrust cases; the role of big data in antitrust analysis; analysis of multi-sided markets; and the interplay between competition and privacy regulation.
“There is no question that these companies are the source of transformational new products and services,” Lenard writes. “Whether they also have gotten too big and powerful is now the subject of heated debate, with critics offering remedies that range from common carrier-style regulation to more aggressive antitrust enforcement…”
“Large multi-sided technology platforms that depend on large amounts of consumer data have in a relatively short time become an integral part of the economy,” he writes. “These platforms have raised important antitrust issues that will occupy economists, legal scholars, and policymakers for the foreseeable future.”
Lenard, who is not calling for anti-trust action or new regulations, believes the technology marketplace generally functions well for consumers.
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The Technology Policy Institute
The Technology Policy Institute is a non-profit research and educational organization that focuses on the economics of innovation, technological change, and related regulation in the United States and around the world. More information is available at http://www.techpolicyinstitute.org/.