Economic Reports and Working Papers
Economic Reports are major, published reports, usually containing original research and entailing a substantial commitment of resources, concerning an issue of current policy interest or of long-term impact on Federal Trade Commission antitrust or consumer protection missions.
Information and Advertising Policy: A Study of Fat and Cholesterol Consumption in the United States, 1977-1990, Pauline Ippolito and Alan Mathios, October 1996.
This study examines changes in Americans' consumption of fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol during a period when federal policy governing diet and health claims changed. The study finds that dietary improvements occurred more rapidly in the years after 1985, when policies were relaxed and health-related claims became more explicit and more frequent in advertising and labeling. The study includes a variety of detailed data on differences in consumer knowledge and sources of dietary fats over the period.
Economic Working Papers
Economic Working Papers are preliminary, unpublished work products of the Commission, resulting from original research by Bureau of Economics staff, either in connection with ongoing agency activities or as independent analyses.
Market Structure and the Flow of Information in Repeated Auctions (WP #213), Charles J. Thomas, December 1996.
Do Nonprofit Hospitals Exercise Market Power? (WP #214), John Simpson and Richard Shin (U.S. Department of Justice), December 1996.
Discriminatory Dealing with Downstream Competitors: Evidence from the Cellular Industry (WP #215), David Reiffen, Laurence Schumann, and Michael R. Ward, September 1997.
|Congress of the United States||V970005||9/22/97||Tobacco Industry Settlement|
|Federal Communications Commission||V970001||4/16/97||Telecommunications Licensing|
|California||V970003||4/07/97||Environmental Marketing Guides|
|Illinois||V960010||12/02/96||Collision Damage Waivers in Car Rentals|
|New Mexico||V970004||8/22/97||Optometrists' Business Operations|
|Virginia||V960015||1/03/97||Real Estate Closings|
Congress of the United States: Tobacco Industry Settlement
According to a Commission staff report, cigarette manufacturers could realize substantial profits by increasing the price of cigarettes significantly above the level needed to satisfy their payments under the proposed settlement between the tobacco industry and 40 state Attorneys General. The report states that profits could rise substantially, in part, because of an antitrust exemption that is much broader than necessary to achieve the legitimate public health goals of the settlement. The public sector will also gain financially from the proposed settlement, but the payments made by the companies most likely will be considerably less than the $368.5 billion in the agreement, the staff suggested. The report, "Competition and the Financial Impact of the Proposed Tobacco Industry Settlement," is an analysis of the potential economic impact of the proposed settlement and was prepared in response to a request from the House of Representatives Task Force on Tobacco and Health.
Federal Communications Commission: Telecommunications Licensing
Federal Trade Commission staff filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) supporting its efforts to provide important information to potential purchasers of FCC telecommunications licenses. The Commission agreed that the license application form should be modified to include clear and conspicuous disclosures about several items: FCC regulations prohibiting speculating and trafficking in wireless telecommunications licenses, construction requirements for the licenses, and the potential for fraud in the licensing process. The Commission also supported the FCC requirement that application preparers identify themselves on the application and certify that they have provided the applicants with information about pertinent FCC regulations. The Commission suggested in addition that entities coordinating the frequencies for paging license applications be required to disclose to applicants the number of preexisting co-channeled licenses for the frequency and that bidders at auctions be required to disclose the ultimate intended owners of the licenses and certify that they have provided these persons with information about FCC regulatory requirements. The Commission said that providing consumer applicants with information about the licenses, the application process, and FCC regulations would help to reduce investment fraud in that area in the future.
California: Environmental Marketing Guides
Commission staff responded to a member of the California Assembly who asked about the effectiveness of the Commission's Environmental Marketing Guidelines. Staff stated that the guides have been effective in helping to reduce confusion about environmental claims in advertising and in preventing the false or misleading use of terms such as "recyclable," "degradable," and "environmentally friendly," and that the number of deceptive claims had declined since the guides were issued in 1992. Several states, including California, have repealed or modified their laws to make them consistent with the Commission's guides, and the Commission has cooperated with state Attorneys General in bringing law enforcement cases against firms engaged in allegedly deceptive environmental advertising. The comments were solicited in connection with the California Assembly's consideration of a proposed environmental labeling bill.
Illinois: Collision Damage Waivers in Car Rentals
Commission staff filed comments with the Illinois State Legislature regarding Illinois House Bill 3285, "The Renters' Financial Responsibility and Protection Act." The proposed bill would repeal the current ban preventing car rental firms in Illinois from offering a "collision damage waiver" (CDW) option and would impose disclosure requirements on car rental firms and a cap on CDW charges, among other things. The Commission expressed the view that allowing CDW to be offered could benefit consumers by giving them an additional way to cover the risk of unintentional loss, that giving consumers enough information to make informed choices is better than eliminating a choice altogether, and that requiring some disclosures is preferable to prohibiting CDW altogether.
New Mexico: Optometrists' Business Operations
Commission staff testified at a hearing of the New Mexico Board of Optometry that the Board's proposal to restrict the business arrangements between optometrists and complementary businesses (such as stores that sell eyeglasses) could increase costs and restrict consumers' access to eye care, while offering no countervailing benefits. The proposed rules would prevent optometrists from entering into leases or any other kinds of business arrangements that contain certain prohibited features, such as maintaining particular office hours or sharing support services or personnel. According to Commission staff, such restrictions discourage potentially efficient and procompetitive ways of providing services and may inhibit the development of large-scale practices and volume purchase discounts.
Virginia: Real Estate Closings
Joint comments of the Commission and the Department of Justice were submitted to the Supreme Court of Virginia in opposition to an Advisory Opinion issued by the Virginia State Bar, Standing Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law. The Opinion addressed the issue of non-lawyers conducting real estate closings in Virginia. The question was whether a non-lawyer (who may or may not be licensed as a title agent in Virginia and may or may not be employed by a title and escrow company) may conduct a closing of the sale of real estate or a loan secured by real estate. The Commission and the Department of Justice expressed the view that the proposed Opinion would prevent anyone other than a lawyer from conducting closings for real estate purchases and would thus deprive consumers of the choice to use a lay settlement service, which would increase real estate closing costs.