Larry Summers: WH Antitrust Efforts to Fight Inflation Are 'Science Denial'
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)
By Luca Cacciatore | Tuesday, 28 December 2021 06:03 PM
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers asserted on Sunday that the antitrust program by President Joe Biden to combat inflation was a form of ''science denial.''
''The emerging claim that antitrust can combat inflation reflects 'science denial,''' Summers, a Harvard economist, posted on a Twitter thread. ''There are many areas like transitory inflation where serious economists differ. Antitrust as an anti-inflation strategy is not one of them.''
''Hipster Brandeisian antitrust, with which the admin and its appointees flirt, is more likely to raise than lower prices.''
Summers added that the antitrust efforts would lead to reduced supply and higher prices in the short term, and he urged the administration to focus on the labor shortage instead.
The comments by the former treasury secretary to President Bill Clinton come as the Biden administration investigates meat and oil conglomerates for anti-competitive practices, which several officials have alleged may be exacerbating inflation, the Daily Mail reported.
Biden has reportedly pushed for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to investigate large meatpackers that control a prominent share of poultry and pork markets.
Further, the president asked the Federal Trade Commission in October to investigate whether ''illegal conduct'' was leading to higher gas prices.
''Monopoly may lead to high prices, but there is no reason to expect it to lead to rising prices unless it is increasing,'' Summers continued. ''There is no basis whatsoever thinking that monopoly power has increased during the past year in which inflation has greatly accelerated.''
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' consumer price index (CPI), which measures inflation, showed a 6.8% increase from November 2020 to November 2021. The index for all items other than food and energy was up 4.9% over the same period.