Competition Overdose: How Free Market Mythology Transformed Us from Citizen Kings to Market Servants (Hardcover)
Using dozens of vivid examples to show how society overprescribed competition as a solution and when unbridled rivalry hurts consumers, kills entrepreneurship, and increases economic inequality, two free-market thinkers diagnose the sickness caused by competition overdose and provide remedies that will promote sustainable growth and progress for everyone, not just wealthy shareholders and those at the top.
Whatever illness our society suffers, competition is the remedy. Do we want better schools for our children? Cheaper prices for everything? More choices in the marketplace? The answer is always: Increase competition.
Yet, many of us are unhappy with the results. We think we’re paying less, but we’re getting much less. Our food has undeclared additives (or worse), our drinking water contains toxic chemicals, our hotel bills reveal surprise additions, our kids’ schools are failing, our activities are tracked so that advertisers can target us with relentless promotions. All will be cured, we are told, by increasing the competitive pressure and defanging the bloated regulatory state.
In a captivating exposé, Maurice E. Stucke and Ariel Ezrachi show how we are falling prey to greed, chicanery, and cronyism. Refuting the almost religious belief in rivalry as the vehicle for prosperity, the authors identify the powerful corporations, lobbyists, and lawmakers responsible for pushing this toxic competition—and argue instead for a healthier, even nobler, form of competition.
Competition Overdose diagnoses the disease—and provides a cure for it.
About the Author
Maurice E. Stucke is a co-founder of the Data Competition Institute, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, and of counsel at the Konkurrenz Group. Professor Stucke publishes and speaks regularly on competition policy in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Professor Stucke serves as one of the United States’ non-governmental advisors to the International Competition Network, as a Senior Fellow at the American Antitrust Institute, where he chaired a committee on the media industry that drafted a transition report for the incoming Obama administration, on the board of the Academic Society for Competition Law, and on advisory board of the Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies. Professor Stucke received a number of awards including a Fulbright fellowship to teach at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, and the Jerry S. Cohen Memorial Fund Writing Award for his article “Behavioral Economists at the Gate: Antitrust in the Twenty-First Century.” He has twenty years experience handling a range of competition policy issues in both private practice and as a prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Ariel Ezrachi is the Slaughter and May Professor of Competition Law and a Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford. He serves as the Director of the University of Oxford Centre for Competition Law and Policy. He is co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Antitrust Enforcement (OUP) and the author, co-author, editor and co-editor of numerous books, including Virtual Competition - The Promise and Perils of the Algorithm Driven Economy (2016, Harvard), EU Competition Law - An Analytical Guide to the Leading Cases (6th ed, 2018, Hart), Global Antitrust Compliance Handbook (2014, OUP), Research Handbook on International Competition Law (2012 EE), Intellectual Property and Competition Law: New Frontiers (2011, OUP), Criminalising Cartels: Critical Studies of an International Regulatory Movement (2011, Hart), Article 82 EC - Reflections on its recent evolution (2009, Hart) and Private Labels, Brands and Competition Policy (2009, OUP).His research and commentary have been featured in The Economist, The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Guardian (opinion), The Guardian, Nikkei, Times Higher Education, Harvard Business Review, HBR (2), Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Chicago University Pro Market, New Scientist, Politico, OBLB, WIRED, Click - BBC, CPI, Concurrences, The Scotsman, The Times, Fast Company, Nesta, UNCTAD, OECD, Forbes, Factor, The Australian, NRC 2016, NRC 2018, Business Insider, CMS Wire, Cited, IAI, Les Echos, ACCC, ZDnet, and other international outlets. His work on algorithmic collusion (together with Prof Stucke) has been central to policy discussions in international organisations and competition agencies (including, among others, the CMA, OECD, UN, House of Lords, Monopolkommission).Prof. Ezrachi develops training and capacity building programmes in competition law and policy for the private and public sectors, including training programmes for European judges endorsed and subsidised by the European Commission. He is an Academic Advisor to the European Consumer Organisation - BEUC, member of the Independent Committee on Digital Platforms, member of UNCTAD Research Partnership Platform, and a former Non-Governmental Advisor to the ICN.
Stucke and Ezrachi’s analysis of the nature of competition is refreshingly non-ideological and counterintuitive. Their idea that competition can be either toxic or noble—all depending on how governments structure markets—is something so clear that it’s remarkable it’s taken us decades to recognize the wisdom of it. This is a must-read for anyone interested in how to use public policy to harness the competitive drive for the public good. — Chris Hughes, cofounder of Facebook
Stucke and Ezrachi show us the important differences between destructive and noble competition and what we can do to pursue a more just and prosperous world. This book changes how you will view the role of the market in our economy and society at large. — Spencer Weber Waller, director of the Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies and law professor at Loyola University Chicago
Entertaining and thought-provoking, Competition Overdose fiercely articulates the raw, hard truth behind the toxic aspects of competition. — Tommaso Valletti, professor of economics at Imperial College London and Chief Competition Economist (2016–2019), European Commission
Competition Overdose is probably the most important book to be published on the subject since The Antitrust Paradox hit the bookshelves in 1978. It is destined to transform how governments across the world think about the role competition in domestic and international policy for decades to come. Stucke and Ezrachi are the new rock stars of competition policy. — Ali Nikpay, partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher
Anything, in the wrong dosage, can be poisonous. Competition Overdose takes a sacred cow of contemporary western thought—that ‘more competition is always good’—and reveals that while competition can be noble, it can also be toxic. An engaging and compelling read that will make you think differently about situations we all deal with every day. — Tim Wu, professor at Columbia Law School, contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and author of The Master Switch and The Attention Merchants
A must-read for anyone concerned about the future of our economy and society, Competition Overdose provides a no-nonsense analysis of how toxic competition can be bad for competitors, consumers, workers, and society overall. The authors highlight the abuses of this ideology and remind us that we, as citizens and consumers, can exercise our power by choosing products, based on our values. — Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, The European Consumer Organisation
This beautifully written book helps us rethink economic principles from the ground up. As any good chemist knows, what can be helpful or harmless in small doses is deadly in excess. While technocrats push competition as a cure to all economic ailments, Stucke and Ezrachi deliver a dose of reality: cutthroat schemes to kneecap rivals, manipulate customers, and exploit workers harm far more than they help. Read this book for a brilliant account of the proper place of competition (and ethics) in society. — Frank Pasquale, law professor at University of Maryland and author of The Black Box Society
Stucke and Ezrachi examine a multitude of perversities in today’s society—colleges striving to recruit applicants they likely will reject, supermarkets stocking hundreds of varieties of jam, travel deals stuffed with hidden fees—and provide a unifying explanation: a misalignment of competition. Their book illuminates how competition can go wrong, and how individuals, businesses, and the government can set it right. — Jonathan Levin, dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business
Is more competition the solution to all our societal problems? Stucke and Ezrachi persuasively say: No, it depends; sometimes we need to rein in markets because they produce socially inferior outcomes. This book shows that the promotion of competition cannot be an end in of itself, but rather it should be used as a tool to improve overall welfare. Between too much and too little competition, the safest option is, as always, the ‘aurea mediocritas’” — Jorge Padilla, senior managing director and head of Compass Lexecon, Europe
Stucke and Ezrachi ask critical questions about what types of rivalry are desirable and who benefits when all domains of society are governed by principles of unfettered competition. Countering simplistic prescriptions, Competition Overdose is a perceptive and timely read. — Lina Khan, author of Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox
Competition Overdose is a courageous, timely attempt by two formidable legal scholars to unpack—and in some cases demolish—the dominant shibboleth of our age: the delusion that ‘more competition’ is the remedy for many social or economic ills. Should be required reading for every course in public policy. — John Naughton, professor at University of Cambridge and technology columnist for the London Observer
The authors draw skillfully on a wide range of disciplines, from economics to psychology, to help us understand why more competition is not always all that it’s cracked up to be. They provide support for a more humane, nobler form of competition and wider corporate purpose, debunking the myths of shareholder value and blind faith in markets. This is a must-read. — Simon Holmes, UK Competition Appeal Tribunal
Because competition has been sold for centuries as an unbridled positive, reading this book requires counterintuitive thinking and an open mind. Using a lucid, conversational style, the authors thoroughly explain each case study and anecdote. Does competition regularly result in a race to the bottom? Yes, the authors maintain, and they present ideas about how to achieve what they term ‘noble competition,’ in which sellers, buyers, and society at large all benefit. — Kirkus Reviews