Document Type


Publication Date

February 1998

Conference / Event Title

The Competition Symposium, Brubaker & Associates, Omni Shoreham


INTRODUCTIONIn looking over the program before you arrived this morning, some of you may well have asked: what is someone from the Federal Trade Commission doing as our luncheon speaker? I thought this was an electricity conference. After all we've got FERC and the state commissions looking over our shoulders, including looking at mergers. What have we got here, some sort of party crasher? Besides violating the obvious adage and giving an economist a free lunch, what's the point?In the course of the next few minutes I hope to convince you that we are not party crashing. In fact, we antitrust enforcers have been around for more than 75 years. It's just that your party has moved and now we are inside your tent and you are inside ours.As all of you are well aware, the electric industry is the one of the last great arenas for regulatory reform in the U.S. Like most economists, I am delighted that the benefits of competition can now spread to this important sector of the economy. Regulatory reform in other industries has led to productivity gains, increased innovation, lower prices, and enhanced consumer choice. I hope that the same types of improvements in economic performance can be realized in the electric industry.Another nice thing about regulatory reform is that we get to meet a new group of people -- such as yourselves. We have not had much to do with each other recently, but when your tent moves, you get new neighbors. Sometimes we will rub elbows around the same table at gatherings like this and at others we may sit at separate tables in front of a judge. Less amiable folks, using a different metaphor, might see you as jumping out of the frying pan of regulation into the fire of antitrust, but we make a sincere effort to help both veterans and newly competitive industries steer their way clear of the flames through speeches like this and guidelines.This afternoon I would like to cover two areas where we may be meeting each other more in the future.