Jonathan Derbyshire: The proposed $85bn merger between AT&T and Time Warner has drawn the two companies into potential conflict with the US Department of Justice, which fears the deal would create a new monopoly and be bad for cable TV customers.
The argument mounted by the two companies — that a merger is necessary in order to stave off competitive pressure from digital giants like Netflix, Amazon, Google and Facebook — falls foul of conventional antitrust policy, notes Rana Foroohar in her latest column. But in this instance, she argues, it may be the policy that’s the problem. For established notions of “consumer welfare” on which antitrust legislation is based don’t apply in a world in which data, and not dollars, are the currency.
It is time, therefore, to rethink antitrust policy and with it the very idea of economic welfare itself. Yes, the justice department should attack overweening corporate power. But in this instance, it is looking in the wrong place.
Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel exports to the US have drawn attention to the vulnerability of the EU, and Germany in particular, to protectionist action. It is becoming clear, writes Wolfgang Münchau, that the eurozone’s anti-crisis strategy of relying on the rest of the world to absorb its surpluses has reached the end of the road. If the US goes one step further and slaps tariffs on cars, things could get really ugly.
Banking on blockchain:
The enduring popularity of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, argues Reza Moghadam, reflects public dissatisfaction with the current payment system based on physical cash and credit cards. One alternative being seriously considered by some central banks is a blockchain-based “central bank coin”. Concerns about the proposal are overblown, Reza suggests. And policymakers cannot afford to fall behind as the technology progresses.
Rent-seeking, corruption and bad debt are among the biggest obstacles to India’s quest for economic dynamism, writes Gaurav Dalmia. New bankruptcy regulations introduced by the government of Narendra Modi are welcome, therefore. However, Gaurav argues, they are being implemented too rigidly and are having some unintended consequences. Transforming India’s economy will be the work of generations, not one electoral cycle. - Financial Times