Antitrust economics and consumer protection economics in policy and litigation: Why the disparity?

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The lag in the use of microeconomics in consumer protection policy and litigation—as compared with the use of microeconomics in antitrust/competition policy and litigation—has at least three causes: a considerably shorter period of intellectual development; the specific historical origins and culture of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), where this disparity is especially noticeable; and the splintering of consumer protection responsibilities across a very large number of federal and state agencies. This paper will expand on these themes and discuss their implications—including the opportunities for expanded research in the area of consumer protection economics.