I think we’ve seen time and time again that when you have a company that has taken control of a major commercial artery, that control can be used illegally. That was partly what prompted the passage of the antitrust laws, in which Congress recognized that the railroads’ dominance and control over major trade arteries allowed this small number of companies to pick winners and losers in our economy to shape the innovation trajectory. . †
Those are the same kinds of principles we consider, and that’s what animates our work now.
Instead of blocking or approving deals, you’ve sent a number of letters to companies stating that if they close their deals, they do so at the risk that your agency will come back later to block them. Should we expect you to revisit closed deals?
We have 30 days after parties submit an application to us to determine whether to conduct an in-depth investigation. Thirty days is an extremely short time when you have deals that big and so complicated. And so there will be instances, especially when you have the kind of wave of merger filings that we did last year, where our employees haven’t been able to come to a faithful decision faithfully by the end of the 30 days.
And so we indicated in those cases that the parties were needed, that our investigation was ongoing, and that they should not take the expiration of that expiration period as a sign that the FTC somehow approved the deal.
We retain the authority and ability to challenge consummations after the fact. Our passivity is never a sign that we approve a deal.
Can your work really keep technology in check, which is often faster than making rules and policies?Much of the work we’ve done has really widened the gap for how we understand, recognize and diagnose damage. We’re really trying to look ahead, anticipate problems and take action quickly, instead of just, you know, 10 years later realizing, oh, there was a big problem and a big moment that we missed.
I think this can be traced back to focusing on these next-generation technologies and next-generation innovations in emerging industries across different sectors. They can really help us tackle problems from the start.
What do you think of a recent survey of temp workers showing lower morale?
That’s something I take incredibly seriously. I’ll say in general, you know, this is a moment of incredible change at the agency, and we know that moments of change can be difficult.