The Federal Trade Commission's ("FTC") Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection kicked off yesterday. FTC Chairman Joseph Simons opened the hearings, noting two major challenges in competition law: First, the U.S. economy appears to be growing more consolidated and less competitive, even as economics-driven enforcement may be leading to less vigorous enforcement by antitrust agencies. Second, some are challenging the nature of antitrust law itself and are urging the enforcement agencies to consider other policy goals besides competition, such as job protection or equality. In addressing these challenges, Simons stressed the importance of bipartisan, fact-based policymaking. He hearkened back to similar hearings held in 1995 under then-Chairman Robert Pitofsky, and he expressed the hope that by engaging a broad range of stakeholders, the current hearings would help develop a consensus on how new enforcement challenges should be addressed and on what initiatives the Commission should prioritize.
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