CCC’s: What do we know about algorithmic collusion? (Guest Post by Ai Deng PhD)

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Dr. Ai Deng of Bates White Economic Consulting has been a long time and frequent contributor to Cartel Capers.  He is a leading voice in the area of artificial intelligence and algorithmic collusion.  You can follow him on LinkedIn (here).  HIs most recent post is below:


I had the pleasure of speaking about artificial intelligence and algorithmic collusion at the American Bar Association Section of Antitrust Law Spring Meeting 2018 last month. The star war-themed session seemed to have gone very well. I want to thank again Paul Saint-Antoine, Lesli Esposito, Professors Maurice Stucke and Joshua Gans for putting together the panel with me.

I have just posted another article on algorithmic collusion on SSRN. The paper is partially based on my remarks at the Spring Meeting but expands on several fronts. Below is the abstract. You can download the full working paper at


The past few years have seen many legal scholars and antitrust agencies expressing interest in and concerns with algorithmic collusion. In this paper, I survey and draw lessons from the literature on Artificial Intelligence and on the economics of algorithmic tacit collusion. I show that a good understanding of this literature is a crucial first step to better understand the antitrust risks of algorithmic pricing and devise antitrust policies to combat such risks.

Keywords: algorithmic pricingalgorithmic collusionartificial intelligenceantitrust

This is one of a series of papers I have written in the past year about the general topic of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and their implications on antitrust issues.

As always, I appreciate your thoughts and comments. You can reach me at [email protected] or connect with me on LinkedIn [here]

Ai Deng, PhD

Principal at Bates White Economic Consulting

Lecturer at Advanced Academic Program, Johns Hopkins University

direct: 2022161802 | fax: 2024087838

1300 Eye Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005

CCC’s: Antitrust and Artificial Intelligence, Empirical Analysis in Class Certification: A Research Update (Guest Post)

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By: Ai Deng, PhD,  Principal, Bates White Economic Consulting

Hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. During my time off CartelCapers, I have been working on several research projects. In this post, I’d like to give the interested readers an update on two of them.

When Machines Learn to Collude: Lessons from a Recent Research Study on Artificial Intelligence

From Professors Maurice Stucke and Ariel Ezrachi’s Virtual Competition published a year ago, to speeches by the Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Terrell McSweeny and Acting Chair Maureen K. Ohlhausen, to an entire issue of a recent CPI Antitrust Chronicles, and a conference hosted by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in June this year, there has been an active and ongoing discussion in the antitrust community about computer algorithms. In a short commentary (downloadable here), I briefly summarize the current views and concerns in the antitrust and artificial intelligence (AAI) literature pertaining to algorithmic collusion and then discuss the insights and lessons we could learn from a recent AI research study. As I argue in this article, not all assumptions in the current antitrust scholarship on this topic have empirical support at this point.

Sub-regressions, F test, and Class Certification

Did the anticompetitive conduct impact all or nearly all class members? This question is central to a court’s class certification decision. And to answer the question, a methodology—known as sub-regressions (also labelled less informatively as simply the “F test” in the recent Drywall litigation)—is being increasingly employed, particularly by defendants’ expert witnesses. A key step of a sub-regression type analysis is to partition the data into various sub-groups and then to examine data poolability.[1]

Forthcoming in the Journal of Competition Law & Economics, my article titled “To Pool or Not to Pool: A Closer Look at the Use of Sub-Regressions in Antitrust Class Certification” focuses on three areas of interest pertaining to sub-regressions:

  • The related law and economics literature related to this methodology
  • Courts’ recent class certification decisions in cases where parties introduced sub-regression analysis
  • Several methodological challenges, many of which have not been previously acknowledged, as well as potential ways to address them. Specifically, what test should one use? How does one choose the subsets or partitions of data to test? Are individual estimates of damages always the most reliable approach when we believe the impact varies across customers or across some other dimensions?

This paper is currently being processed at the Journal. If you would like a copy, please feel free to reach out to me.

As always, I appreciate your thoughts and comments. You can reach me at [email protected] or connect with me on LinkedIn [here].

Thanks for reading.

Ai Deng, PhD
Principal, Bates White Economic Consulting
Lecturer, Advanced Academic Program, Johns Hopkins University
direct: 2022161802 | fax: 2024087838
1300 Eye Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005
[email protected]

[1] I first provided an update on this project on CartelCapers here.

Maurice Stucke and Elizabeth Stucke will be presenting “In Search of an Effective Ethics and Compliance Program” at the 2014 SAI Global Customer Conference in Washington DC on April 30, 2014

2014 SAI Global Customer Conference

See below for a description for each conference agenda track.


This track is non-industry specific and will focus on best practices in various aspects of governance, risk and compliance management.


This track will be centered around corporate compliance and is designed with Learning Solutions & Advisory Services clients in mind

Track 3 | COMPLIANCE 360

This track will have sessions designed for the typical Compliance 360 user.


This track designed with healthcare providers in mind, especially those using Compliance 360’s Claims Audit Manager.

Attendees are not required to stay within a single track.  In fact, we encourage attendees to become familiar with other solutions they are not yet taking advantage of.  

To download the complete agenda, please click HERE




Professional Development – sessions will offer best practices and will be presented by an industry expert.  Session will be educational in nature.  Many of these sessions will qualify for CEUs.

Solution Optimization – sessions will focus on the usage of one of our products & services, including Compliance 360 software and Learning Solutions.  Sessions could be led by professional services, product management or YOUR PEERS!

All Sessions Have Been Pre-Approved for Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

CCB is awarding 1.2 units per session (max 11.6 for entire conference)

Each session also qualifies for 1.2 CPE (max 6 for entire conference)

1 AAHAM CEU is awarded for each 60 minute session qualifies

New!  CLEs Awarded by Florida Bar Association (12 General CLEs and 9 Business Litigation Credits)

Compliance Week:What You Believe About Effective Compliance, And What Works

Compliance Week focuses on Maurice E Stucke’s “In Search of Effective Ethics and Compliance Programs

“Stucke’s premise is that our current compliance ecosystem—regulators,
prosecutors, boards, CEOs, compliance officers—is extrinsic in nature,
imposing compliance demands upon Corporate America from the outside, with the
threat of punishment if your program is ineffective. The problem? The
assumptions behind an extrinsic system don’t hold up in the real world. So
companies end up seeking to invest the least amount necessary, to satisfy the
smallest number of compliance obligations possible, leaving employees still
tempted to commit misconduct. Lovely…”.

Plaintiffs Win a Round in Sixth Circuit Milk Case: No Need to Show Relevant Geographic Market or Antitrust Injury to Avoid Pre-Trial Dismissal

In reversing the decision of the district court, the Sixth Circuit held that the court should have considered the possibility that the fact nature of the restraint was sufficiently clear that a “quick look” analysis would have shown that the conduct had obvious, adverse anticompetitive consequences and that a detailed market analysis was not necessary. Even though the alleged conduct was not illegal per se, the allegations in the complaint were sufficient to shift the burden to the defendant to produce evidence of some of the procompetitive benefits of the alleged conduct.
Second, the circuit court found that the trial court’s exclusion of an expert economist’s testimony in dismissing the monopolization counts in respect to his opinion on geographic market was error.  In reaching his conclusion, the expert relied on the “hypothetical monopolist” construct to assess whether the territory alleged constituted a relevant geographic market.  While the district court ruled this approach was not  that this construct required speculation about a buyer’s likely reaction to a price increase, and was not, therefore, based upon actual evidence — and, hence, was unreliable.  The Sixth Circuit, however, viewed the approach as consistent with Supreme Court authority as well as with the DOJ and FTC merger guidelines for determining a relevant market. While defendants contended that the market was much smaller, the circuit court held that that issue should be left to the jury to decide:In re Southeastern Milk Antitrust Litigation

In Search of Effective Ethics & Compliance Programs; By Professor Maurice Stucke, GeyerGorey LLP


Maurice E. Stucke

University of Tennessee College of Law
December 10, 2013


The U.S. Sentencing Commission’s Organizational Guidelines for over twenty years have offered firms a significant financial incentive to develop an ethical organizational culture. Nonetheless, corporate crime persists. Too many ethics programs remain ineffective.As this Article explores, the Guidelines’ current approach is not working. The evidence, including sentencing data over the past twenty years, reveals that few firms have effective ethics and compliance programs. Nor is there much hope that the Guidelines’ incentive will induce companies, after the economic crisis, to become more ethical.The problem is not attributable to several assumptions underlying the Guidelines. The empirical research, while still developing, suggests that compliance efforts can be effective, and that effective compliance is attainable. Instead, this Article explores how the Guidelines’ extrinsic, incentive-based approach to compliance does not cure, and likely contributes to, the problem.



Experts See Inconsistencies in DOJ’s Merger Deal with Airlines

GeyerGorey LLP’s Maurice Stucke provides analysis of Airlines Merger challenge with the Wall Street Journal:

Experts See Inconsistencies in DOJ’s Merger Deal with Airlines

9/18/2013 Business Week: AMR-US Airways Unions Meet U.S. Official on Merger Suit

9/18/2013 Business Week: AMR-US Airways Unions Meet U.S. Official on Merger Suit

GeyerGorey LLP’s Allen Grunes quoted in Washington Post: “AMR, US Airways Attack U.S. Merger Suit as Bad for Consumers.”

AMR, US Airways Attack U.S. Merger Suit as Bad for Consumers

David McLaughlin and Sara Forden
Sep 11, 2013 11:52 am ET

Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) — American Airlines and US Airways Group Inc. defended their proposed merger against a U.S. antitrust lawsuit, saying the combination would generate more than $500 million a year in benefits to consumers.

The combined airline will create an effective competitor to Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc., the airlines said in filings yesterday in federal court in Washington arguing that the U.S. effort to stop the deal should be denied.

“It is the complaint — by interposing the heavy hand of federal and state regulation — which will lessen competition by precluding the market from creating new and competitive flight options for passengers,” Tempe, Arizona-based US Airways said.

The U.S. Justice Department, joined by seven states and the District of Columbia, are suing American parent AMR Corp. and US Airways to block the merger, arguing the tie-up would reduce competition and hurt consumers. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has scheduled the case to go to trial beginning Nov. 25.

The U.S. and the attorneys general argue the proposed merger, by reducing the number of legacy carriers from four to three, would increase the likelihood of coordinated behavior among the airlines, leading to higher fares and fees and diminished service. American and US Airways can compete effectively on their own, the government has said.

Service Cuts

The main issue in the case is whether the merger would lead to cuts in service and increases in domestic fares, said Allen Grunes, a lawyer with GeyerGorey LLP in Washington who formerly worked in the Justice Department’s antitrust division.

“The American and U.S. Airways answers paint a picture of the merger as some kind of silver bullet that will miraculously transform the two companies into the greatest thing since sliced bread,” he said. “That’s more than a little optimistic, and it’s going to be tough for them to prove it.”

The merger, which would create the world’s largest airline, forms the basis for American’s plan to exit bankruptcy protection and pay creditors. Fort Worth, Texas-based AMR filed for bankruptcy in November 2011 and reached the merger agreement with US Airways in February.

“We believe this merger would result in consumers paying more for airfares and receiving less service,” Gina Talamona, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said in an e-mail. “The department’s lawsuit seeks to maintain competition in the airline industry.”

More Competition

American said in its court filing that the deal with US Airways would create a more competitive airline industry that would give passengers more choices.

The U.S. complaint “concocts an imaginary narrative where airlines tacitly collude and where prices are higher than in the past, but the real facts are just the opposite,” American said.

US Airways said the U.S. complaint improperly focuses on maintaining the number of legacy carriers, “those airlines that, prior to 1978, endured the well-documented failure of federal regulation of routes and fares.” Those carriers are by most relevant measures the least financially successful companies in the industry, US Airways said.

Low-Cost Competition

The U.S. ignores the effect on the airline industry of low- cost carriers including Southwest Airlines Co. and JetBlue Airways Corp., according to the filing. The success of those airlines is the “most meaningful competitive development” in the industry since deregulation, US Airways said.

During the past 12 years, American lost $10.3 billion and US Airways lost $3.4 billion, according to the filing by US Airways. US Airways has been in bankruptcy twice in that period.

“Blocking the merger will not sharpen competition — it will prolong this cycle of crisis to the detriment of passengers, the employees of American and US Airways, and the communities the airlines serve,” US Airways said.

The case is U.S. v. US Airways Group Inc., 13-cv-01236, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

Law 360: DOJ’s Airline Merger Challenge Recalls AT&T Fight

“If you think since the 1990s, what’s been popular has always been a unilateral effects theory,” said Stucke, who is also of counsel at GeyerGorey LLP. “This is almost entirely a coordinated effects theory, [and] I think it’s very strategically well thought-out, [because the airlines] can’t really now divest a few landings. The way the complaint is described, it’s hard to see any remedies short of a full-blown injunction.”

DOJ’s Airline Merger Challenge Recalls AT&T Fight