The Justice Department said Apple was the “ringmaster” in a conspiracy to fix e-books prices, a more direct leadership role than portrayed in the department’s April 2012 antitrust lawsuit. …
On Friday, the Department of Justice called off its antitrust
case against Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI), which had been poised to
take over Grupo Modelo, the Mexico-based brewer of Corona. ABI will
still take over most of Modelo, but the rights to sell the
company’s brands in the U.S will be turned over to an independent
The move means instead of two massive brewers (ABI and
MillerCoors), a large brewer (Heineken), and over 2,000 small
brewers, the U.S. will now be served by two massive brewers, two
large brewers (Modelo—now Constellation—controls seven percent of
the U.S. market), and over 2,000 small brewers. According to the
DOJ, this is a big victory for competition.
From the DOJ’s press
As originally proposed, [the merger] would substantially lessen
competition in the market for beer…. ;The department alleged
that the transaction would result in consumers paying more for beer
and would limit innovation in the beer market.
“This is a win for the $80 billion U.S. beer market and
consumers,” said ;Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in
charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “If this
settlement makes just a one percent difference in prices, U.S.
consumers will save almost $1 billion a year.”
Sources not close to the investigation contend, however, that
competition and innovation were not really in peril. These sources
are the multitudinous plethora of arrays of delicious beers
available pretty much freaking everywhere.
Of course, taxes account for about 45 percent of the
cost of beer, so if the federal government was really
interested in saving consumers some coin they could always relax
the excise tax (which comes
to $7.00 on each of the first 60,000 barrels produced and $18 per
barrel after that). Or perhaps the DOJ could look into breaking up
state-level wholesaling cartels, which have a government-granted
stranglehold on supply chains.
Last month, Reason contributor Baylen Linnekin
covered some of the regulatory challenges craft brewers
face. Sadly, lack of corporate welfare does not seem to be
one of those challenges. That story is over at
The New School. H/T: Jacob Grier.
Google has for the first time agreed to legally binding changes to its search results after an antitrust investigation by European regulators. …
European Union regulators are examining the contracts Apple strikes with cellphone carriers that sell its iPhone for possible antitrust violations after several carriers complained that the deals throttled competition. …
Last November, the U.S. Department of Justice quietly closed a three-year antitrust investigation into Monsanto, the biotech giant whose genetic traits are embedded in over 90 percent of America’s soybean crop and more than 80 percent of corn. Despite a splash of press coverage when the investigation was initially announced, its termination went mostly unreported. The DOJ released no written public statement. Only a brief press release from Monsanto conveyed the news.The lack of attention belies the significance of the decision, both for food consumers around the world and for U.S. businesses. Experts who have examined Monsanto’s conduct say the Justice Department’s decision not to act all but officially establishes the firm’s sovereignty over the U.S. seed industry. Many of them also say the decision ratifies aggressive practices Monsanto used to entrench its dominance and deter competition. This includes highly restrictive contractual agreements that excluded rivals, alongside a multibillion-dollar spree to buy up seed companies.Continue Reading… …