Modern antitrust policy follows the consumer welfare principle (CWP), the proposition that antitrust policy should encourage markets to produce high output consistent with sustainable competition, and low prices. The market dominance of giant firms such as Amazon, however, is opening the door to a reevaluation of this antitrust standard, particularly from a new antitrust “movement” that has economic goals, such as protecting small businesses and controlling runaway profits, that can be at odds with promoting low prices. Penn Law and Wharton Professor Herbert Hovencamp evaluates the merits of three antitrust frameworks within the context of the law and economic history. While he acknowledges that business can cause harm to the lives of Americans in ways that extend beyond inflating prices—i.e., creating barriers to market entry, stifling innovation, controlling information, or limiting wages—he argues that the CWP remains best positioned to respond to antitrust problems, although it would benefit from technical improvements.
Infrastructure is one of the key issues on the American political agenda. How to finance and manage the rebuilding of America’s aging infrastructure was the topic of a B-School for public policy seminar. Professor Bob Inman provided an overview of the economic and political factors that influence the financing and management aspects as well as provided an analytical framework, highlighting the way in which economists, with their focus on efficiency, differ from engineers in analyzing infrastructure investments. To share his insights with a wider audience, Professor Inman joined the Knowledge@Wharton radio show, which airs on SiriusXM Channel 111, to discuss what it would take to finance improvements, and the role government should play.
It is well known that companies care deeply about their brands—and with good reason: a respected name attracts customers, solidifies their loyalty, and brings in higher returns. The idea of brand identity extends beyond the corporate world, though. Countries are also brands, and a country’s brand, like a corporate brand, is economically powerful. A positive country brand brings money and economic growth to it through tourism, foreign direct investment, and foreign trade; conversely, a negative country brand is economically costly. In this seminar, Professor David Reibstein from the Wharton School, who collaborates with U.S. News & World Report in developing the Best Countries Rankings, will examine nation branding as it applies to the U.S., and will discuss why a country should care about their brand globally and the role that public policy plays in shaping and communicating that brand to the world.