The Superfluity of Antitrust - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Superfluity of Antitrust

Mickey Kaus:

Attention, Thomas O. Barnett: I went to Staples to buy a replacement cartridge for my HP printer. Usually I buy a “Staples” brand replacement–they’re a little cheaper. But they were no longer on display. Only the pricier HP cartridges were for sale. I asked the store manager if this was because HP had sued Staples. No, she said–HP “paid us more” to carry only their brand. … If true, isn’t this a pretty clear antitrust violation? HP would seem to be trying to enforce a (presumably lucrative) semi-monopoly position in HP replacement cartridges. I don’t think semi-monopolists can do that. Or am I misremembering antitrust law? … Backfill: Business Week has covered this, and finds a prof who says there’s no antitrust violation because “there are alternatives being sold at other office superstores, and other printer brands are being sold at Staples.” Second opinion, please. …

Who needs the Feds? A market in equilibrium will punish price-gouging colluders with lower sales. Of course, imperfect information retards the process of reaching equilibrium. Fortunately, we have the internet to speed things up. Spread the word: Buying HP printer cartridges at Staples is for suckers!

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