IPcentral Weblog
  The DACA Blog

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Price Fixing in the LCD Business Sure Doesn't Seem to Do Much Good!
(previous | next)

There's news today that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is imposing fines on three leading electronics manufacturers -- LG Display Co. Ltd., Sharp Corp. and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. -- "for their roles in conspiracies to fix prices in the sale of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels." According to the DOJ's press release, of the $585 million in fines, LG will pay $400 million, the second highest criminal fine ever imposed by the DOJ's Antitrust Division.

Regardless of the merits of the DOJ's case, I have to ask: Has there ever been a worse attempt at fixing prices in the entire history of price fixing? After all, have you looked at flat-screen prices lately? They do nothing but fall, fall, fall -- fast! Here are some numbers from Steve Lohr's New York Times article about the DOJ case:

The LCD business is a $100-billion-a-year market and growing, but prices are falling relentlessly. Recently, panel prices have often been cut in half each year, a downward trajectory even steeper than in other technology markets known for steady price pressure, like those for computer chips and hard drives. In the last six months alone, the price of a 15.4-inch panel for a notebook PC has dropped to $63, from $97, and a 32-inch LCD for a television has gone to $223, from $321, according to iSuppli, a market research firm. The price-fixing conspiracy, industry analysts said, was an effort to slow the speed of price declines. "These companies were trying to get a toehold to protect profits in a very difficult market," said Richard Doherty, director of research at Envisioneering, a technology consulting firm.

Yeah, well, that "toehold" didn't protect squat. And how could it; it's not like these are the only three companies in the LCD business. And you'll forgive those of us who only have plasmas or projectors in our homes for wondering what the big deal is (although I am certainly aware that LCDs are the primary technology for smaller flat screen displays in computer monitors, cell phones, and other handhelds).

But hey, I'm sure the DOJ's effort was worth it at some level. Some lucky handful of consumers will probably get a check for 65 cents once the class action dust settles on this one. In the meantime, if there is some sort of Antitrust Hall of Fame out there, I hearby nominate LG, Sharp, and Chunghwa for the "Worst Price Fixers in History" award.

posted by Adam Thierer @ 1:48 PM | Antitrust & Competition Policy

Share |

Link to this Entry | Printer-Friendly

Post a Comment:

Blog Main
RSS Feed  
Recent Posts
  EFF-PFF Amicus Brief in Schwarzenegger v. EMA Supreme Court Videogame Violence Case
New OECD Study Finds That Improved IPR Protections Benefit Developing Countries
Hubris, Cowardice, File-sharing, and TechDirt
iPhones, DRM, and Doom-Mongers
"Rogue Archivist" Carl Malamud On How to Fix Gov2.0
Coping with Information Overload: Thoughts on Hamlet's BlackBerry by William Powers
How Many Times Has Michael "Dr. Doom" Copps Forecast an Internet Apocalypse?
Google / Verizon Proposal May Be Important Compromise, But Regulatory Trajectory Concerns Many
Two Schools of Internet Pessimism
GAO: Wireless Prices Plummeting; Public Knowledge: We Must Regulate!
Archives by Month
  September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
  - (see all)
Archives by Topic
  - A La Carte
- Add category
- Advertising & Marketing
- Antitrust & Competition Policy
- Appleplectics
- Books & Book Reviews
- Broadband
- Cable
- Campaign Finance Law
- Capitalism
- Capitol Hill
- China
- Commons
- Communications
- Copyright
- Cutting the Video Cord
- Cyber-Security
- Digital Americas
- Digital Europe
- Digital Europe 2006
- Digital TV
- E-commerce
- e-Government & Transparency
- Economics
- Education
- Electricity
- Energy
- Events
- Exaflood
- Free Speech
- Gambling
- General
- Generic Rant
- Global Innovation
- Googlephobia
- Googlephobia
- Human Capital
- Innovation
- Intermediary Deputization & Section 230
- Internet
- Internet Governance
- Internet TV
- Interoperability
- IP
- Local Franchising
- Mass Media
- Media Regulation
- Monetary Policy
- Municipal Ownership
- Net Neutrality
- Neutrality
- Non-PFF Podcasts
- Ongoing Series
- Online Safety & Parental Controls
- Open Source
- PFF Podcasts
- Philosophy / Cyber-Libertarianism
- Privacy
- Privacy Solutions
- Regulation
- Search
- Security
- Software
- Space
- Spectrum
- Sports
- State Policy
- Supreme Court
- Taxes
- The FCC
- The FTC
- The News Frontier
- Think Tanks
- Trade
- Trademark
- Universal Service
- Video Games & Virtual Worlds
- VoIP
- What We're Reading
- Wireless
- Wireline
Archives by Author
PFF Blogosphere Archives
We welcome comments by email - look for a link to the author's email address in the byline of each post. Please let us know if we may publish your remarks.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation