Generating Evidence to Guide Merger Enforcement

Orley Ashenfelter
Princeton University – Industrial Relations Section; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Daniel S. Hosken
Government of the United States of America – Federal Trade Commission

Matthew Weinberg
Government of the United States of America – Federal Trade Commission

March 2009

NBER Working Paper No. w14798

Abstract:

The challenge of effective merger enforcement is tremendous. U.S. antitrust agencies must, by statute, quickly forecast the competitive effects of mergers that occur in virtually every sector of the economy to determine if mergers can proceed. Surprisingly, given the complexity of the regulators task, there is remarkably little empirical evidence on the effects of mergers to guide regulators. This paper describes the necessity of retrospective analysis of past mergers in building an empirical basis for antitrust enforcement, and provides guidance on the key measurement issues researchers confront in estimating the price effects of mergers. We also describe how evidence from merger retrospectives can be used to evaluate the economic models used to predict the competitive effects of mergers.

Generating Evidence to Guide Merger Enforcement

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