FTC Hearing #3: Multi-Sided Platforms, Labor Markets, and Potential Competition

FTC Hearing #3 on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century - George Mason University

George Mason University 3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22201 | Directions & Nearby

Founders Hall Auditorium

Event Description

The Federal Trade Commission held the third session of the Hearings initiative, an event co-sponsored with the Global Antitrust Institute and held at the Antonin Scalia Law School of George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, on October 15-17, 2018.

ommissioner Rohit Chopra opens the third FTC hearing
Commissioner Rohit Chopra speaks on the
opening day of the third FTC hearing

The three-day event examined the potential for collusive, exclusionary, and predatory conduct in multi-sided, technology-based platform industries.  The sessions also examined antitrust frameworks for evaluating acquisitions of nascent competitors or occurring in nascent markets, including in the technology and digital marketplace; and the approach to addressing antitrust issues regarding labor markets.

The Commission invites public comment on these issues, including, the questions listed below.

Multi-Sided Platforms (Oct. 15, 16, and 17):

  1. What are the defining characteristics of multi-sided platforms? Is there a way to distinguish between multi-sided and single-sided businesses? Are any adjustments to antitrust analysis necessary to account for any special characteristics of multi-sided businesses?
  2. How should the courts and agencies define relevant antitrust markets and measure market power for multi-sided platform businesses?
  3. What is the relevance of network effects (direct and indirect) in multi-sided platform markets?
  4. How should the courts and agencies evaluate exclusionary conduct by firms competing in multi-sided platform markets, including predatory pricing, vertical restraints, most-favored nation clauses, and actions to undermine rivals who depend on platform infrastructure?
  5. Are there unique procompetitive justifications for these types of conduct by firms competing in multi-sided platform markets?
  6. What is the relevant legal precedent for evaluating antitrust concerns related to multi-sided platform businesses?

Antitrust in Labor Markets (Oct. 16):

  1. Is a lack of competition among employers a significant contributor to observed macroeconomic trends in labor markets, such as the declining labor share and/or real wage stagnation? What are other explanations for these trends?
  2. How should the agencies approach defining relevant labor markets for purposes of antitrust analysis? What (if any) reliable evidence is available on the existence and effect of employer concentration in properly defined labor markets?
  3. Does available evidence suggest a causal relationship between employer concentration and labor market outcomes, such as wage?  Does this evidence suggest a change in antitrust enforcement is needed?
  4. Should the agencies and courts apply the consumer welfare standard to the analysis of monopsonistic labor markets in which firms are buyers and workers are sellers? 
  5. How should the agencies and courts resolve cases where evidence suggests output in the product market is likely to increase but employment and wages are likely to decline because of reduced competition in a properly defined labor market?

Acquisitions of Nascent and Potential Competitors in Digital Technology Markets (Oct. 17):

  1. What is the appropriate antitrust framework to evaluate acquisitions of potential or nascent competitors in high-technology markets?
  2. Is current antitrust law sufficient for developing challenges to these types of acquisitions?
  3. How should the antitrust agencies evaluate whether a nascent technology is likely to develop into a competitive threat in dynamic, high-technology markets?
  4. What are some pragmatic approaches that the antitrust enforcement agencies could consider for enhancing their evaluation of these types of acquisitions?

Disability accommodation

We welcome people with disabilities. The FTC will accommodate as many attendees as possible; however, admittance will be limited to seating availability. Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. Requests for accommodations should be submitted to Elizabeth Kraszewski via email at ekraszewski@ftc.gov or by phone at (202) 326-3087. Such requests should include a detailed description of the accommodation needed. In addition, please allow at least five business days advance notice for accommodation requests; last minute requests will be accepted but may not be possible to accommodate.

Event Details

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