A deep dive into the new antitrust theories laying siege on Apple

From The Ezra Klein show’s “This Isn’t Your Grandpa’s Joe Biden” posted Friday by the New York Times:

President Biden’s economic policy isn’t what you would have expected from his long career. That’s true in the legislation he’s backing, which is bigger and bolder than anything we’ve seen from him before, but it’s even truer in the appointments he’s making and the theories he’s embracing. On everything from antitrust to inflation to employment to power, Biden is reflecting a new strain of progressive economic thought — one that wants to direct markets, not just correct them.

Felicia Wong is the chief executive of the Roosevelt Institute, one of the think tanks that’s been central to building the new progressive economics that Biden has picked up. She joined me for a conversation on Biden’s theory of the economy, how antitrust thinking has changed, whether Jerome Powell should be reappointed chair of the Federal Reserve, whether progressives need to reckon with Amazon’s wild popularity, what kind of inflation problem we have and much more.

Click here for the podcast. Click here for the transcript.

My take: Apple investors — not to mention Apple executives — may take some comfort in how hard Klein and Wong believe it would be to wage a popular antitrust war on companies as beloved Amazon or Apple.

8 Comments

  1. Fred Stein said:
    Apple does not harm anyone, except maybe Spotify. But recent changes nullifies that case. Epic never had a case. The used the court to juice media, which is slave to clicks.

    3
    September 4, 2021
  2. Jerry Doyle said:
    “… My take: Apple investors — not to mention Apple executives — may take some comfort in how hard Klein and Wong believe it would be to wage a popular antitrust war on companies as beloved Amazon or Apple.”

    Agree! This intrinsic fact is what many investors and WS are beginning to understand.

    I long have stated on this forum that in this anti-trust administration’s Executive Branch initiative, it lacks “public support” among the populace. Do not underestimate how difficult it will be to succeed at this initiative if the public sees how the effort may impinge on their beloved relationship and experiences with these private entities.

    Unlike during the Teddy Roosevelt era, where is the public outcry? Consumers love their Amazon experiences and prices. Amazon has nowhere close to a monopoly in retail. It doesn’t charge excessive prices for its products. These are anti-trust factors the public understands and get behind. Much the same with Apple, Google and Facebook.

    Do we see users abandoning Facebook? Apple consumers who buy Apple products and services are NOT complaining about Apple; only Developers who profit on Apple’s trusted platform, but desiring to pay less for doing so while opening the platform up to less security for use by the very Apple consumers who aren’t complaining.

    The Biden administration isn’t using the antitrust legislative approach to attack these perceived monopolies because this administration knows it lacks public backing to do so. So, the Biden administration is using the Executive Branch authority to accomplish what it knows it can’t get through the legislative branch. So, Ezra Klein is saying what I long have touted: “…. is it possible that the antitrust movement on the left either underestimates the values of bigness or is in danger of, at the least, diverging from the public in terms of what the public’s values around companies actually are? I think that it is a mistake the left sometimes make to suggest that public opinion will always be with them.”

    Joe Biden is reflecting this new strain of progressive economic thought due to political appeasement to his progressive liberal base, especially deferring to Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warrens’ progressive left constituency. The likelihood of this Executive Branch initiative succeeding is improbable, highly marked with doubt. Political power going forward for the Biden administration may, and seemingly, is dissipating. If this Executive Branch initiative is their approach, then they need to move posthaste. And even if the Executive Branch initiative succeeds, who can deny that the affected entities cannot use their political capital and influence to reverse many of the Executive Branch initiative’s accomplishments later with another Executive Branch reversal. This is the reason that such an endeavor as this antitrust movement needs to pursue the proper Legislative Branch path predicated on law-of-the-land.

    6
    September 4, 2021
  3. Fred Stein said:
    Upvoted, Jerry. Great points, especially the last one about use of exec power vs. legislation. Exec power is easily and often reversed.

    1
    September 4, 2021
  4. Fred Stein said:
    Consumer harm: Completely missing from the entire rambling discourse of two highly educated people.

    Also missing the point: Amazon is much more convenient. Like Apple, they optimize for the user (customer) experience. Surely each of us has suffered through resolution of a dispute or technical problem with a bank, airline, or telecom provider, and I could go on.

    1
    September 4, 2021
  5. Fred Stein said:
    The real issue is power, which the two discuss, but skip over to ramble into “inside baseball”, and old topics.

    Reading their opinions about what they think is achievable through executive or legislative measures, shows that they’re in an academic/political bubble. One quote reveals this, “I think that it is very important to think about how to control prices..”

    They’re both brilliant, and naive.

    3
    September 4, 2021

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