The landmark Supreme Court ruling in Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois (IB), which bars “indirect purchasers” from bringing antitrust suits against upstream product manufacturers, has greatly reduced the legal costs associated with antitrust enforcement. The ruling also might have another, lesser-known result: it has the potential to enable firms upstream in the supply chain to engage in collusion through the use of a particular contract structure—the wholesale price plus fixed fee structure (WPFF). The key component of the WPFF structure is a slotting fee, by which manufacturers agree to pay a fixed fee to retailers, compensating them for stocking fewer, higher cost items than they would under perfect competition. The fee acts as a disincentive for retailers to level antitrust suits against manufacturers. And consumers, whose welfare is reduced by the collusion, are forbidden from bringing antitrust action by the IB ruling. The research suggests that the incentive to collude is greater when demand uncertainty for a product is higher, the number of retailers in the market is higher, and the number of manufacturers is lower. Public enforcers of antitrust law can use this knowledge to focus their monitoring efforts on firms embedded in the type of supply chain structures described here while using WPFF contracts.
Big U.S. tech companies like Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, and others, are coming under fire for being monopolies that should be broken up. This is what we have been hearing from Democratic Presidential candidates like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. It is an idea that is gaining steam as these tech giants face accusations of violating privacy rights, squeezing out competitors, and spreading misinformation. A new 150-page report commissioned by the British government includes many of those similar criticisms and say the existing rules governing these companies are outdated and need to be strengthened. And the European Union has repeatedly fined big tech companies. So is it time for the U.S. to look at whether the tech industry is too big and make some changes?
Companies like Uber have garnered a lot of attention for their disruptive technology, but other gig economy companies, like those offering care and domestic cleaning services, have mostly stayed under the radar. This seminar will interrogate these gaps in attention, exploring historical changes in how different types of labor are valued, especially that of women and people of color, and the role of technology in shaping these changes. Professor Julia Ticona, Ph.D., will present new research that examines the similarities and differences in the ways technology is deployed to manage workers in different sectors of the gig economy, and the ways this shapes workers’ experiences.