Opening Keynote Speech : Luke Froeb
In his opening statement, Luke FROEB (Chief Economist, Antitrust Division – US Department of Justice) drew attention to the increasing complexity and importance of economic models and economic analysis in antitrust cases. The quality of case handling depends on antitrust lawyers being cognizant in economics so as to challenge the economists’ analysis with a view to improving their presentations and reports. It is thus crucial to teach lawyers to use and master economic tools in order to treat the evidence. Mr. Froeb addressed the counter-factual questions raised by antitrust on effects and consumer harm. The core difficulty is to draw inference about an unobserved state of the market. Explaining possible solutions, he referred to empirical metaphors from natural experiment and theoretical models to predict market counter-factual and cited two examples in antitrust and merger control. He explained the functioning of the website Competition Toolbox, which can help lawyers better understand economic models. The challenge is to provide a mapping from the evidence of a case to an opinion. These tools are teaching and learning tools. Models can allow to determine “what matters, why it matters and how much it matters”. For example, in merger control, the closeness of the merging parties, the mode of competition (price, quantity, bidding), the competition on the market and the anticipated loss of competition after the merger are important factors. Mr. Froeb presented these tools as a possibility to make the economic analysis more transparent, concluding that the aim is better advocacy in antitrust cases.