Economics and the FTC’s Google Investigation
We explain the issues in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC’s) antitrust investigation into whether Google’s use of “Universal” search results violated the antitrust laws and assess the role for economics in the FTC’s decision to close the investigation. We argue that the presence of the Bureau of Economics infuses the FTC with an economic perspective that helped it recognize that “Universals” were a product innovation that improved search rather than a form of leveraging. Labeling them as “anticompetitive” would have confused protecting competition with protecting competitors.
KeywordsInternet search Antitrust Market definition FTC Universal search Google Two-sided markets
Salinger and Levinson were consultants to Google during the FTC’s investigation. This paper draws heavily on Salinger and Levinson (2013), for which Google provided financial support. The views expressed in this paper are the authors’ alone. We are grateful to Mike Baye, Susan Creighton, Joe Farrell, Franklin Rubinstein, Scott Sher, and Elizabeth Wang for helpful comments.
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