Category Archives: regulation

Not Always an Antitrust Issue: Airline Edition

The Justice Department is gearing up to file an antitrust case against JetBlue and American Airlines over an alliance they recently formed. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The lawsuit, which could come as soon as Tuesday, is expected to argue that the recently forged alliance threatens competition and higher fares, the people said.

American and JetBlue announced their alliance in July 2020, saying boosting their offerings in the Northeast by marketing one another’s flights on certain routes would allow them to become more formidable competitors at the three New York area airports and in Boston.

Assume, for the sake of argument, that the American-JetBlue pact is anti-competitive (the airlines dispute this, and I have not yet reached a conclusion). Is antitrust enforcement the right tool for increasing competition? Probably not. Antitrust regulation has a number of built-in flaws that cannot be reformed.

Market conditions can change in a lot less time than it takes to conduct a trial, which is why the case over big IBM’s dominance in mainframe computing, filed in 1969, was eventually dropped—in 1982, when personal computers were taking over the market.

Competing in the courtroom takes resources away from competing in the market, and can have a chilling effect on efficiency-enhancing innovations and business practices.

And then there is regulatory capture, where businesses coopt regulators for their own purposes. It wouldn’t be surprising to see other airlines try to influence this case, just as rival software companies did during the Microsoft case in the late 1990s. Oracle went as far as attempting to bribe rivals’ office janitors to hand over trash that might have contained sensitive documents.

A better solution would be to repeal existing regulations that bar international airlines from operating domestic flights in the U.S.—which is essentially a Jones Act for airlines. That reform alone would expose American’s and JetBlue’s joint flights to hundreds of potential new competitors. It would require no new spending, no court costs, and no lawyer fees. The airlines could compete in the marketplace, not the courtroom, and those worried about increasing concentration in the airline industry would have far less to worry about.

Antitrust is trendy right now. Its high visibility is one reason why activists are calling for using antitrust enforcement everywhere from airlines to health care to live events—and not just against the Big Tech companies that garner most of the headlines.

When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But sometimes the correct tool for the job is a screwdriver or a saw. This is one case where the right tool is regulatory reform, not an antitrust prosecution.

For more CEI research on antitrust, see our dedicated antitrust website, as well as Wayne Crews’s and my paper “The Case against Antitrust Law.”

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Inflation remains high at over 5 percent, California’s governor will finish out his term after a recall attempt failed, and culture warriors got outraged at each other over a gala in New York. Meanwhile, agencies issued new rules ranging from tobacco advertising to job titles.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 59 final regulations last week, after 59 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 51 minutes.
  • With 2,309 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,243 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,218 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 46 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 29 the previous week.
  • With 1,512 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,124 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,021 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 458 notices last week, after 354 notices the previous week.
  • With 15,661 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 21,996 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 1,231 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 931 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue this year contains 293 pages.
  • With 52,069 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 73,131 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are 10 such rules so far in 2021, one from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from $1.42 billion to $4.81 billion. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 301 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2021, with three in the last week. This is on pace for 423 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 643 new rules affect small businesses; 80 are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

The 2021 Federal Register surpassed 50,000 pages in a short Labor Day week. Fresh off a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, Congress began work on a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, which will in turn be followed by a roughly $6 trillion budget bill. Meanwhile, agencies issued new rules ranging from floating cabins to shipping human blood.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 59 final regulations last week, after 72 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 51 minutes.
  • With 2,250 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,251 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,218 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 29 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 39 the previous week.
  • With 1,466 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,118 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,021 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 354 notices last week, after 467 notices the previous week.
  • With 15,203 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 21,970 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 931 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,604 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue this year contains 294 pages.
  • With 50,833 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 73,461 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are nine such rules so far in 2021, none from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from $1.42 billion to $4.81 billion. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 293 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2021, with two in the last week. This is on pace for 423 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 622 new rules affect small businesses. 78 are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

The United States officially ended its military occupation of Afghanistan. Hurricane Ida killed at least 40 people in the Northeastern U.S., while in the New Orleans area it caused six deaths and massive flooding and knocked out power to more than a million people. Meanwhile, agencies issued new rules ranging from regional haze to dairy donations.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 72 final regulations last week, after 52 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 20 minutes.
  • With 2,190 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,241 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,218 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 39 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 52 the previous week.
  • With 1,437 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,127 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,021 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 467 notices last week, after 495 notices the previous week.
  • With 14,849 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 21,966 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 1,604 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,342 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue this year contains 295 pages.
  • With 49,902 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 78,399 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are nine such rules so far in 2021, none from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from$1.42 billion to $4.81 billion. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 291 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2021, with seven in the last week. This is on pace for 430 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 592 new rules affect small businesses. 78 are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Congress seems to have reached a deal to combine the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. A $6 trillion budget bill remains on the agenda for later this year. The Supreme Court decided that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium exceeded its legal authority. And the Afghanistan evacuation turned violent with suicide bombing attacks on Kabul’s airport causing at least 170 deaths and 200 casualties. Meanwhile, agencies issued new rules ranging from duck stamps to bumble bees.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 52 final regulations last week, after 58 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every three hours and 14 minutes.
  • With 2,118 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,438 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,218 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 52 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 28 the previous week.
  • With 1,398 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,118 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,021 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 495 notices last week, after 426 notices the previous week.
  • With 14,382 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 23,347 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 1,342 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,328 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue this year contains 294 pages.
  • With 48,294 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 78,399 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are nine such rules so far in 2021, two from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from$1.42 billion to $4.81 billion. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 284 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2021, with five in the last week. This is on pace for 461 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 573 new rules affect small businesses. 76 are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

The big story of the week was the United States’ military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Back home, a new school year began and the economic recovery continued with the lowest jobless numbers since the start of the pandemic. The Federal Trade Commission re-filed its antitrust case against Facebook, which a judge had previously thrown out for lack of evidence. Meanwhile, agencies issued new rules ranging from shipwreck sanctuaries to Georgetown salamanders.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 58 final regulations last week, after 64 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 54 minutes.
  • With 2,056 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,338 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,218 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 28 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 56 the previous week.
  • With 1,346 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,056 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,021 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 426 notices last week, after 414 notices the previous week.
  • With 13,887 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 22,544 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 1,328 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 2,236 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue this year contains 295 pages.
  • With 46,947 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 76,218 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are seven such rules so far in 2021, none from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from$1.17 billion to $2.13 billion. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 279 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2021, with six in the last week. This is on pace for 453 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 563 new rules affect small businesses. 75 are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

The Senate passed the big infrastructure bill in a dramatic marathon vote. It now goes to the House. Up next is a $3.5 trillion spending bill, which will likely be followed by a $6 trillion spending bill. The 2021 Federal Register surpassed 45,000 pages, and is on pace to exceed 74,000 pages, though this would be far less than last year’s 87,352 pages. Meanwhile, agencies issued new rules ranging from 4,4′-DMAR to market-dominant mail products.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 64 final regulations last week, after 67 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and eight minutes.
  • With 1,998 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,244 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,218 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 56 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 38 the previous week.
  • With 1,318 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,140 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,021 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 414 notices last week, after 394 notices the previous week.
  • With 13,461 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 21,852 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 2,236 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,998 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue this year contains 296 pages.
  • With 45,619 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 74,057 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are seven such rules so far in 2021, none from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from$1.17 billion to $2.13 billion. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 273 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2021, with seven in the last week. This is on pace for 443 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 547 new rules affect small businesses; 73 are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Nearly 1 million jobs were created in July, while Congress put the finishing touches on an infrastructure bill that will add about $250 billion to the deficit. Although only nine new regulations classified as “significant” were published in the past week, the year-to-date tally on the Federal Register’s official website somehow jumped from 31 to 266 last week (see my related Twitter thread). This is due to years-long transparency problems. Meanwhile, agencies issued new rules ranging from hydroelectric permits to flying service animals.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 67 final regulations last week, after 63 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 31 minutes.
  • With 1,934 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,245 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,218 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 38 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 70 the previous week.
  • With 1,262 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,117 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,021 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 394 notices last week, after 444 notices the previous week.
  • With 13,047 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 21,891 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 1,998 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,440 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue this year contains 287 pages.
  • With 43,380 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 72,785 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are seven such rules so far in 2021, four from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from$1.17 billion to $2.13 billion. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 266 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2021, with nine in the last week. This is on pace for 446 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 528 new rules affect small businesses. 70 are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Second quarter GDP grew at a 6.5 percent annualized pace, although COVID’s delta variant, inflation, and massive deficit spending could dampen growth going forward. The 2021 Federal Register surpassed 40,000 pages, though the pundit class paid more attention to turning gymnastics into a culture war issue. Meanwhile, agencies issued new rules ranging from pool pumps to spiny lobsters.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 63 final regulations last week, after 72 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 40 minutes.
  • With 1,867 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,241 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,218 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 70 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 45 the previous week.
  • With 1,224 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,125 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,021 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 444 notices last week, after 456 notices the previous week.
  • With 12,653 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 21,967 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 1,440 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 2,045 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue this year contains 287 pages.
  • With 41,377 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 71,840 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are two such rules so far in 2021, none from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from net savings of $100.7 million to net costs of $362.5 million. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 31 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2021, with four in the last week. This is on pace for 54 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 412 new rules affect small businesses. Eight are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

The new For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

The Olympic games began in Tokyo, after being delayed a year due to COVID-19. Congress is working its way through a $3.5 trillion spending bill that will reportedly include carbon tariffs. Meanwhile, agencies issued new rules ranging from oil royalties to squid specifications.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 72 final regulations last week, after 75 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 20 minutes.
  • With 1,804 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,245 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,218 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 45 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 21 the previous week.
  • With 1,154 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,076 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,021 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 456 notices last week, after 355 notices the previous week.
  • With 12,209 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 21,959 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 2,045 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,405 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue this year contains 287 pages.
  • With 39,937 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 71,829 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are two such rules so far in 2021, none from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from net savings of $100.7 million to net costs of $362.5 million. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 22 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2021, with one in the last week. This is on pace for 40 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 387 new rules affect small businesses. Seven are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

The new For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.