Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

The Friday Slot (10): Herbert Hovenkamp

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As we announced a couple of daus ago, today’s Friday Slot festures an interview with Herbert Hovenkamp.  We also said in our previous post that, even though we have never met Professor Hovenkamp in person, there are very few people who have taught us more about antitrust law. His works (cited in this 17-page CV) exude an all too rare lucidity. When he was awarded the John Sherman Prize by the US Department of Justice, Thomas Barnett said that “Professor Hovenkamp sets the standard for antitrust scholarship today”. We agree. If you ask us, Professor Hovenkamp is not only the co-author of the best book in the history of antitrust law, but he’s also the author of a few more of the works that would feature in our top-10. That’s why we were thrilled to receive an email in our inbox from him (signed as “Herb”) accepting our invitation to take part in The Fridat Slot only a few minutes after we contacted him.

We are immensely grateful  to Professor Hovenkamp for having accepted our invitation, for all that his work has taught us and will continue to teach us, and for his enormous contribution to making antitrust law a more sensible discipline. We leave you with him now.

“Oscar” of the best antitrust law book? Non-antitrust book?

Best Antitrust Book:  Oliver E. Williamson, Markets and Hierarchies: Analysis and Antitrust Implications (1975).

Best non-antitrust book:  Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America (2001)

“Oscar” of the best case-law development in the past year? “Oscar” of the worst case-law development?

Best: Mayo Clinic v. Prometheus Laboratories, 132 S.Ct. 1289 (2012)

Worst: FTC v. Phoebe Putney Health System, Inc., 663 F.3d 1369 (11th Cir. 2011).

Let’s do it like economists => assume that you could change 3 rules, principles, judgments, institutions in the current EU antitrust system. What would you do? 

Answer: I would speak only to the United States system, where I would change the following three things:

A.  The per se rule against tying arrangements (insofar as it still exists)

B.  The strict recoupment requirement in predatory pricing cases when prices are clearly below average variable cost

C.  The federal courts’ repeated refusal to see the competitive harm in reverse payment settlements in pharmaceutical infringement cases

Average working time/week?

According to my family, way too much.

Why do you work in antitrust law? How did you first get into it?

A very good and inspiring teacher in law school, Lino Graglia of the University of Texas

Most interesting, intense or funny moment of your career?

The first time I sent a manuscript to my sadly departed and at the time very senior co-author, Phillip E. Areeda, in 1985.  It was intense although not necessarily funny.

 Your role model (if any) in the antitrust community?

Robert Pitofsky

What do you like the least about your job?

Grading exams

What do you like the most about your job?

The classroom, particularly my antitrust, torts and innovation and competition policy classes.

What do you like the most about economics in antitrust law?

Its ability to separate rational from irrational conduct (at least in many cases)

What you like the least about economics in antitrust law?

Its tendency to become overly technical and thus beyond the reach of the people who are most central to antitrust decision making.

What career/personal achievement are you most proud of?

Completion of the Antitrust Law treatise after Phillip E. Areeda’s death in 1995, and also the recent completion of my book Creation Without Restraint: Promoting Liberty and Rivalry in Innovation (with Christina Bohannan) (Oxford, 2012)

A piece of “counterfactual” analysis: what would you do if you weren’t in your current position?

I would be either a Dutch Reformed clergyman or a Professor of American History

Besides being a “antitrust geek” (sorry for this one, but we all are), what are your hobbies?

Raising children and dogs, and traveling

Favorite movies?

Sappy chickflicks: The Notebook, Sleepless in Seattle, Titanic

Favorite music style in general?

1980s and 1990s rock and progressive country

Your favorite place in the world?


Your favorite motto?

« Just Do It »  [apologies to Nike]

Websites that you visit the most (besides Chillin’Competition)?




A piece of advice for junior antitrust professionals?

For young antitrust academics: don’t get too hung up on ideology.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

4 May 2012 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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  1. […] friends at Chillin’ Competition have a short interview with Herb Hovenkamp up as part of their “Friday Slot” series.  Here are a couple of tidbits to entice you […]

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