Anticompetitive Barriers to E-Commerce

May 24, 2006

Topic:

    Business-to-consumer e-commerce is one of the fastest growing business sectors in the American economy. As a result, industry-specific economic regulations, occupational licensing, franchising laws, and a variety of other practices are now under challenge from a new direction. High-profile lawsuits and policy battles involving e-commerce have occurred in industries as diverse as automobiles, wine, caskets, real estate, and contact lenses. In some cases, the bricks-and-mortar incumbents have responded by lobbying for laws or regulations that would protect them from Internet-based competition. Innovation in e-commerce is also calling into question many established policies that generally protect incumbents from new entrants – often in-state interests from out-of-state interests.

    In light of these developments, court cases and Federal Trade Commission hearings have revealed that there is a paucity of economic and legal analysis focused on legal and regulatory barriers to e-commerce.

    To explore these new issues, and to stimulate research in this area, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, in collaboration with the George Mason University School of Law, is holding a day-long symposium to allow prominent legal and economic scholars to present papers on topics such as: the current status of legal and regulatory barriers, their impact on consumers, their implications for competitive federalism, and more…

Symposium Program

8:30 a.m. Welcome and Introductions
Susan E. Dudley, Mercatus Center
Daniel D. Polsby, Dean, George Mason University School of Law
8:45 a.m. Keynote Address
“The Commerce Clause and E-Commerce”
Kenneth W. Starr, Dean, Pepperdine University School of Law

Click here to watch the video of Dean Starr’s keynote address.

9:30 a.m. Panel 1: Autos
Moderator: Todd J. Zywicki, George Mason University School of Law

“Automobile Distribution Restrictions: An Economic Perspective”

Click here to watch the video of discussion.

Debra J. Holt, Federal Trade Commission

“A Competitive Analysis of Regulatory Barriers to Internet Auto Sales”
John T. Delacourt, Kelley Drye Collier Shannon

Commenters:
Joseph M. Johnson
Economist
United States Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy

Martin Johnson
Senior Economist
International Trade Administration
Department of Commerce

11:00 a.m. Panel 2: Caskets
Moderator: David E. Harrington, Kenyon College

“Protectionism as a Rational Basis?
The Impact on E-Commerce in the Funeral Industry”

Click here to watch the video of discussion.

Asheesh Agarwal, US Department of Justice

“Casket Sales Restrictions and the Funeral Market”
Daniel Sutter, University of Oklahoma

Commenters:
Donald J. Boudreaux
Chairman
Department of Economics
George Mason University

Brian Higginbotham
Economist
Joint Economic Committee

12:15 p.m. Luncheon Address
“The Dormant Commerce Clause As An Ex Ante Rule”
Michael S. Greve, American Enterprise Institute

Click here to watch the video of luncheon address.

2:00 p.m. Panel 3: Wine
Moderator: Donald J. Boudreaux, George Mason University

“The Economics of Direct Wine Shipping”

Click here to watch the video of discussion.

Jerry Ellig, Mercatus Center at George Mason University
Alan E. Wiseman, Ohio State University

“What Next in the Wine War?”
James Alexander Tanford, Indiana University School of Law

Commenters:
Maureen K. Ohlhausen
Director of the Office of Policy Planning
Federal Trade Commission

Todd J. Zywicki
Professor of Law
George Mason University School of Law
Senior Fellow
James Buchanan Center

3:30 p.m. Panel 4: Empirical Analysis of E-Commerce
Moderator: Jerry Ellig, Mercatus Center

“Public versus Private Restraints on the Online Distribution of Contact Lenses: A Distinction with a Difference”
James C. Cooper, Federal Trade Commission

“Real Estate Brokerage and E-Commerce:
A Framework for Empirical Analysis”
R. Richard Geddes, Cornell University

Commenters:
Robert D. Atkinson, Ph.D.
President
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

Ken Heyer
Economics Director & Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Economic Analysis.
Antitrust Division
United States Department of Justice

4:45 p.m. Concluding Remarks
Jerry Ellig, Mercatus Center
 

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