101 Economists Warn: Overzealous Anti-Trust Investigation of Google Threatens Consumer Choice and Market Innovation

(Alexandria, VA) – Today, the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission and other key policymakers, signed by 101 leading economists who agree that the federal government’s latest anti-trust enforcement push – aimed most intensely at Google – does not focus on real consumer problems, while threatening economic damage and reduced freedom for individuals and businesses.

View the entirety of the economists’ letter HERE.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that free speech on the Internet and consumer choice are at stake in this FTC investigation of search engine practices,” said NTU Executive Vice President Pete Sepp. “When competition is so evident, there is no strong basis for such a probe in the first place. But the tremendous toll on technological innovation, our liberties online, and on the Information Age economy, only make this regulatory rampage more reckless.”

In their statement, the 101 economists from a variety of academic institutions, think tanks, and analytical firms warned that government often fails to understand market competition and that history shows harm done to targeted companies frequently hits consumers:

America’s business landscape is scarred with numerous antitrust enforcement actions that have: deprived consumers of choices, stripped entrepreneurs of their freedom to innovate, denied workers and shareholders opportunities to build wealth, enriched competitors whose key attribute is political clout, drained “defendant” companies of capital due to legal expenses, and thwarted potential growth in the economy...

Whether they have afflicted traditional manufacturers or high-tech firms, antitrust policies have too often failed to recognize the proper limits of government’s role in overseeing competition. The result is an arbitrary, conflicted message to the risk-takers who are crucial to our nation’s economic dynamism at home and abroad: be productive and creative, but not so productive and creative that competitors and bureaucrats find it in their interest to undermine you...

Google, with its popular online search engine, is the latest target of regulators claiming to be acting in consumers’ interests, even though barriers to entry into the search market are exceedingly low and Google’s competition is but one click away for online users.

A NTU/IBOPE Zogby poll from earlier this year found overwhelming majorities of Americans from diverse political and socioeconomic backgrounds were satisfied with their search engine options, and wary of government intrusion in the marketplace.

Sepp concluded, “The longer this investigation continues, the greater the victory for government manipulation of competition, and the worse the loss for the American consumer and free enterprise.”

For more information on NTU’s extensive work on anti-trust issues, visit ntu.org.