With all the big health care news going on this week one could not
be blamed for missing the news that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission
has filed suit against Intel, the computer chip maker, for
anti-competitive practices. This news left me scratching my head. Of
course, it is possible that Intel is crushing its competitors with
horrible business practices, but, as the Wall Street Journal notes,
it isn’t so obvious. Chip prices decrease now at staggering rates, and
it is not clear that Intel is selling their chips below cost, the
lodestar of anti-competitive behavior.
More to the point is this: has anyone at the FTC noticed that we are
in a crushing recession and that Intel is one of the very few bright
spots in the American economy. I guess not. To an outsider Intel
appears to be engaged in fierce competition while fighting off
regulators using antiquated anti-trust tools.
The Europeans have recently fined Intel a massive amount, but this
strikes me as being part of a emerging trade pattern in which EU
authorities use their trade laws to cripple America’s leading tech
companies. Of course, the U.S. government appears oblivious to this
strategm. Microsoft has been the most visible punching bag for the
Bottom line: perhaps, our government would do better laying off our
job creating industries and firms until the unemployment rate — the
“U-6″ rate which is the broadest — goes from 17% to half that amount.
How’s that for a deal?