An Emboldened F.T.C. Bolsters Biden’s Efforts to Address Inflation

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Mr. Biden and the F.T.C. chair, Lina Khan, have greeted similar arguments about the benefits of corporate mergers with intense skepticism.

Early in his term, Mr. Biden appointed Ms. Khan, who has steered the agency to its most aggressive antitrust enforcement in decades. The president also stocked a 2021 executive order, meant to promote competition in the economy, with directives for the F.T.C. — including to more stringently scrutinize certain types of mergers.

The agency — and the Justice Department, which has also beefed up antitrust efforts — have responded vigorously. The F.T.C. has now taken action against about 40 mergers, including tie-ups of video game heavyweights, hospital chains and pharmaceutical companies. About half of those mergers have been abandoned, though the agency has not always succeeded: A federal judge cleared the way last year for the acquisition of the video game maker Activision Blizzard by its rival Microsoft.

Those actions have largely delighted a school of progressive economists and economists who blame increased corporate concentration for higher consumer prices and lower worker wages.Some new champions of aggressive antitrust enforcement, including some Republican senators, have urged the agency to go even further, to break up big tech companies.

When Mr. Biden issued his competition order, less than six months into his presidency, he centered it on workers. When companies get too big, he argued, they gain power to keep wages low.

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