Larry Summers Criticizes FTC’s Latest Merger Guidelines as well as the Biden Administration Once More

**Larry Summers Criticizes FTC’s New Merger Guidelines**

Larry Summers, the former Treasury Secretary, has once again voiced his disagreement with the economic policies of the Biden administration. This time, he criticized the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) recently released merger and acquisitions guidelines. Summers expressed disappointment with the guidelines and believed that they reinforced an adversarial stance towards businesses.

**Disapproval of Focus on Competition for Workers**

Summers argued that the updated guidelines, which included provisions to block mergers that could “lessen competition for workers,” were misguided. He favored the traditional approach of defining monopolies based on their impact on consumer prices. According to Summers, there is no credible evidence to suggest that monopoly power leads to lower real wages or higher unemployment rates.

**Emphasis on Lower Prices for Consumers**

Summers further elaborated on his viewpoint by citing examples from the marketplace. He highlighted how breaking up monopolies or introducing efficient firms like Walmart or Amazon could result in lower prices for consumers. These examples supported his belief that the primary goal of merger policy should be to benefit consumers through lower prices.

**Lina Khan Defends the Guidelines**

In response to Summers’ criticism, FTC Chair Lina Khan defended the updated guidelines, stating that they reflect the changing landscape of American business. She clarified that the guidelines were not laws themselves but rather an interpretation of existing antitrust laws. Khan emphasized that the purpose of the guidelines was to ensure clarity and transparency about the current state of the law.

**Summers’ History with the Biden Administration**

Summers’ disagreement with the Biden administration is not a new development. He had previously criticized the administration’s COVID-relief stimulus plan and its approach to combating inflation. Last year, Summers specifically expressed concerns that the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan would lead to higher inflation. While inflation did rise, reaching a peak of 9.1% in June 2022, it is important to note that global inflation rates surged during this period.

**Divergent Views on Addressing Inflation**

Summers and the Biden administration also held differing views on how to tackle inflation. Summers believed that the government, including the Federal Reserve, was slow to respond to the issue. He even confronted two Fed regional bank presidents in-person to express his concerns. Additionally, Summers suggested that a high unemployment rate would be necessary to curb inflation, while the actual unemployment rate remained relatively low.

In conclusion, Larry Summers has expressed his disappointment with the FTC’s new merger guidelines, arguing that they perpetuate hostility towards businesses. He advocates for a focus on lower prices for consumers and believes that the current approach towards defining monopolies is appropriate. Summers’ criticism is consistent with his past disagreements with the Biden administration regarding economic policies.

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