And We’re Back

It was not as if I expected anything to happen during my time away from Opus Publicum, and apparently nothing has. The state of things, be it churchly things or things secular, remains static — the same complaints, the same worries, the same uncertainties surrounding this perpetually perplexing state of life affairs. Maybe the one thing that stands out to me, as I re-scan the blogs and other outlets of commentary, is how indignant certain individuals are over the so-called same-sex marriage case before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The fix is in. When the fix came in is a matter of some debate, but it is in and there’s nothing to be done for it. Instead of standing firm and resolute in the face of this dismal reality, people have opted instead to lament or, worse, find ways to square the inevitable with what they claim to believe. This is easier for Orthodox and Protestants to do than Catholics, though make no mistake about it: When it comes to capitulating to the Zeitgeist, faithful little Romans are difficult to beat.

Maybe the most interesting thing I’ve read in weeks is Azar, Schmalz, and Tecu’s pathbreaking paper, “Anti-Competitive Effects of Common Ownership.” Here’s the abstract:

Many natural competitors are jointly held by a small set of large diversified institutional investors. In the US airline industry, taking common ownership into account implies increases in market concentration that are 10 times larger than what is “presumed likely to enhance market power” by antitrust authorities. We use within-route variation over time to identify a positive effect of common ownership on ticket prices. A panel-IV strategy that exploits BlackRock’s acquisition of Barclays Global Investors confirms these results. We conclude that a hidden social cost — reduced product market competition — accompanies the private benefits of diversification and good governance.

The fact the paper focuses on the airline industry isn’t what attracted me to it. That the paper (potentially) reveals a major loophole in U.S. antitrust enforcement is bad enough; that it further confirms the falsity that the “market takes care of itself” is what should should really be turning heads. Eric Posner, in both Slate and his web-log, has offered some excellent commentary on the paper, including a defense of its findings from pro-capitalist critics.  

Anyway, that’s the news for the moment. Posting, of some sort or another, resumes tomorrow.