Another Step Towards World Government
FTC Names British Government Agent to Senior Position
by S.M. Oliva
The Federal Trade Commission recently appointed a British government agent to a senior management position, raising serious concerns about the FTC’s commitment to US sovereignty and the increasing role of unelected foreign antitrust regulators in restricting the property rights and economic liberties of American citizens.
On June 22, the FTC named Dr. Alison Oldale as deputy director for antitrust in the agency’s Bureau of Economics. Dr. Oldale, who is not a US citizen, is currently the chief economist for the United Kingdom’s Competition Commission (UKCC). According to a UKCC press release, Dr. Oldale will be “on a year’s secondment” – in effect, on loan to the FTC – and she is expected to return to UKCC after completing her service in the US. The FTC’s press release on Dr. Oldale’s appointment did not disclose this.
Dr. Oldale joined the UKCC in 2009 after working as a director at LECG Corporation, an international consulting firm that provided expert testimony in antitrust litigation. LECG employees were frequent participants in FTC policy workshops, and David Scheffman, a former LECG director, served twice as director of the FTC’s Bureau of Economics. LECG ceased operations earlier this year.
At the Bureau of Economics, Dr. Oldale will oversee approximately 45 economists and support staff working in two groups to review potential antitrust cases. While the FTC’s Bureau of Competition – one of the agency’s two enforcement arms – makes the final decisions on what cases to prosecute, the Bureau of Economic plays a critical policymaking role, according to FTC documents:
Staff economists work closely with the attorney staff in designing investigations, formulating candidate economic theories, and searching for confirming or denying evidence in documents, from customers, or industry sources. BE [Bureau of Economics] takes the lead role in data gathering and econometric analysis regarding various issues connected with a case. For antitrust cases, such analysis might relate to demand estimation or price comparisons across markets with differing structures. … Interaction between BE and the parties’ economists is now more common that it once was during investigations, due, in part, to the increased use of econometric work by the enforcement agencies and outside parties in merger investigations.
In the course of an FTC antitrust investigation – which can last for months if not years – Bureau of Economics staff has access to private business documents obtained from investigation targets. The FTC is not subject to the Fourth Amendment’s probable cause and judicial oversight requirements, and antitrust investigations often devolve into fishing expeditions designed to uncover information that can be used (or misused) into forcing companies to take certain actions desired by Commission officials.