Does “FTC” Mean “Clueless” ??

December 18, 2009

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 Euros.

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?