USA Today: Ginsburg and Wright on Price-Fixing Cases

In an opinion piece in USA Today, Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg and Professor Joshua Wright discuss the Department of Justice’s efforts to deter price fixing.


The four of us are known in antitrust circles for the points on which we disagree. We do agree, however, that price fixing among competitors is bad for consumers — who pay artificially elevated prices — and is inadequately deterred, with too many price-fixing cartels continuing to operate despite ever-increasing sanctions. Indeed, two careful event studies covering 40 years of price-fixing indictments of publicly traded firms in the United States show that the stock prices of 80% of the companies rebounded to pre-indictment levels in less than one year.

It is time to focus on the individuals who participate, on behalf of their employers, in illegal cartels. Companies are properly held responsible, but it is individuals who actually do the dirty work.

The DOJ's Antitrust Division, for years the world's gold standard for anti-cartel enforcement, boasts a forceful arsenal. Its use of leniency and amnesty programs, increased fines and prison sentences — which now average 25 months — have each helped the division to prevent and deter price fixing. It is imperative, however, that the DOJ acquire some new tools to address the economic challenges associated with the individual incentive provided by some employers.

DOJ has the power to crush price-fixers: Column, USA Today, May 27, 2015. By Douglas H. Ginsburg, Joshua Wright, Albert Foer & Robert H. Lande.

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