Either There’s a Deadline, or There Isn’t

Amazon is pushing the FTC to fish or cut bait (because this is a family blog) regarding Amazon’s proposal to acquire MGM:

Amazon recently certified to the FTC that it had provided all the information requested by antitrust investigators, according to people familiar with the matter. That certification triggered a ticking clock for the FTC that expires in mid-March, the people said. If the commission doesn’t file a legal challenge before the deadline, Amazon could be free to consummate the deal.


The FTC currently has also the authority to unwind mergers and acquisitions after the fact, and to continue investigations pursuant to such post hoc disassemblies even after their nominal clock regarding the merger/acquisition has expired.

That authority means there’s no real deadline, and the government can continue to interfere with private enterprise whenever they take the notion to.

The deadline is a good one, and it should be transformed into a real one: if the FTC does not rule on the matter (itself a questionable government authority, but that’s for another discussion) by a time certain, then the merger/acquisition should go forward unfettered, and the FTC should be required to sit down and shut up. If there’s a real problem with the merger/acquisition, well, we have already on the books perfectly serviceable anti-trust tools.

There’s just no reason for Government to dither and stall on any merger/acquisition or to continue to harass after the fact.

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