The Susan Bies Lecture on Economics and Public Policy

The Susan Bies Lecture on Economics and Public Policy was launched in 2008 in honor of Northwestern alumna Susan Schmidt Bies. Bies, who earned her doctorate in economics from Northwestern University in 1972, served in various capacities during a long career, including on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 2001 until 2007. The lecture will alternate between microeconomic and macroeconomic topics.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015
4:30pm - 6:00pm
Room G40, Donald P. Jacobs Center

Carl Shapiro
(University of California, Berkeley)

"Antitrust Limits on Mergers: Protecting Consumers and Enabling Synergies"

Merger and acquisition activity in the United States in 2014 totaled $1.4 trillion. Mergers and acquisitions can generate synergies by combining complementary assets. Mergers and acquisitions also are a critical part of the market for corporate control. But dangers lurk.

Mergers between competitors can diminish competition and harm consumers. In the United States, any proposed deal valued at more than $70 million must be reported in advance to the antitrust agencies, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. In recent years, some 1,400 deals per year have reportable. The antitrust agencies can then challenge a proposed merger under the antitrust laws before it is consummated. The antitrust agencies challenge about 3% of reported mergers. Over the past 25 years, the European Union and many countries have followed the United States and adopted similar merger enforcement regimes.

The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission issue Merger Guidelines which explain how they review and analyze proposed mergers. These guidelines govern merger enforcement by the antitrust agencies and are given considerable weight by the courts. As a result, the Merger Guidelines have considerable impact on merger and acquisition activity. They also are an important channel by which economic learning influences merger control policy.

Professor Shapiro played a leading role in writing the 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines, the first major update of these guidelines since 1992. His Susan Bies Lecture will discuss how advances in the field of industrial organization were incorporated into the 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines. He also will discuss the current challenges associated with merger enforcement, with an emphasis on how research can and should influence public policy toward mergers.

Carl Shapiro is the Transamerica Professor of Business Strategy in the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley.

He served as a Member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers during 2011-12. For the two years immediately prior to that, he was the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Economics at the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice; he also held that position during 1995-96. From 1998 to 2008, He has been Editor and Co-Editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, among other honors. Shapiro earned his Ph.D. in Economics at M.I.T. in 1981, taught at Princeton University during the 1980s, and has been on the Berkeley faculty since 1990.

He has published extensively in the areas of industrial organization, competition policy, patents, the economics of innovation, and competitive strategy. His current research interests include competition policy, the economics of innovation, the design and use of patents, housing finance, and energy and environmental economics.

Video of the Most Recent Lecture

Carl Shapiro (University of California, Berkeley), "Antitrust Limits on Mergers: Protecting Consumers and Enabling Synergies,"  May 13, 2015.

Previous Bies Lectures

Carl Shapiro
University of California, Berkeley

Carl Shapiro

"Antitrust Limits on Mergers: Protecting Consumers and Enabling Synergies"
May 13, 2015
Link to Video

Christina Romer
University of California, Berkeley

"The Aftermath of Financial Crises: It Doesn't Have to be Terrible"
April 7, 2014
Link to Video

Esther Duflo
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"Hope, Aspirations and the Design of the Fight Against Poverty"
April 11, 2013
Link to Video

Olivier Blanchard 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the International Monetary Fund

"The Crisis; Where we are and where we may go."
April 30, 2012
Link to Video

David Cutler
Harvard University

"The Coming Transformation of American Medicine"
May 19, 2011

Jean-Claude Trichet
President, European Central Bank

"What Central Banks can do in a Crisis"
April 27, 2010

Preston McAfee
Yahoo! Inc.

"The Economics of Internet Advertising and Public Policy"
April 21, 2009

John B. Taylor
Stanford University

"The Explanatory Powers of Monetary Policy Rules"
March 31, 2008