Review of “Lor’s, Inc. v. Broadway-Hale Stores, Inc.(1959)"

With the progress on economics, we could find a lot of judgments, or even the law itself, were based on some erroneous and misguided legal and economic concepts, such as predatory pricing, competition, market definition, cost concept, etc.

Take “Lor’s, Inc. v. Broadway-Hale Stores, Inc. 359 U.S. 207, 79 S. Ct. 705, 3 L.Ed.2d 741 (1959)” as an example.

In this case, the plaintiff, which was an independent electronic products retail store, claimed that manufacturers and distributors of many well-know brands as GE, RCA, Emerson, etc. refused to sell or sold their products at so-called “discriminatory price.” The reason was the manufacturers or distributors of these well-known brands sold their products to the chained stores in lower prices than to them.

The Supreme Court held this common commercial behavior as a violation of Sherman Act. Obviously, the court just showed their lack of cost concept.

All the meaningful costs shall be “opportunity costs.” Thus the costs between selling products to chained stores and to an independent retail store are tremendously different. The factors, like predictable constant purchase, reliable payments, and the vast amount of quantity, make the manufacturers or distributors less cost to sell their products to chained stores. There are some costs existing in setting up and maintaining a transaction channel between two parties. Sometimes the costs are absorbed by the seller, sometimes are paid by the buyers. However, it does exist. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Since the difference of cost structures, discriminatory pricing would be very popular in most businesses.

Formosa Plastic Corporation, a Taiwan company and the largest manufacturer of PVC resins in the world, made their revenue more than 5 billion US dolor last year. They require a substantial deposit and highest purchasing quota to any new customer. The amount of PVC that is exceeded the quota won’t be sold even the buyer is voluntary to pay more.

I also had a similar experience. The company, which I worked for, refused to sell products to a new customer who wanted to buy more than ten machines at one time in the first several deals unless they were willing to pay cash before we deliver.

Because there are some uncertain risks that cost us too much to do business with an unfamiliar new customer. We didn’t know whether the credit of the new customer was good. We didn’t know what the real purpose they had. To sell our products or to try reverse-engineering? That’s a question to us. I believe the situation would be similar to Formosa Plastic Corporation and other companies around the world.

It is the concern of cost, not of “anti-competition,” causes a businessman much prefer to sell his goods to a customer he knows in lower prices or larger volumes, especially in B2B relationships.

This common commercial phenomenon can be explained perfectly by the correct cost concept. Unfortunately, the court in Lor’s case was unable to distinguish the costs on economics form the costs on accounting. No wonder the court came out a decision that sounded so surreal to normal businessmen.

The judges, scholars, and people who believe in the function of antitrust laws are just unable to see the real world clearer.

Why the unemployment still climbs at recovery?

Gary S. Becker, a Nobel Prize laureate, wrote an article — Productivity, Unemployment, and the End of the Recession— on September 9th.

He talked about his op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal (“We’re Not Head for a Depression”) in which he possessed an optimism about the future economy of the United States. Otherwise, he also brought out an interesting point.

Dr. Becker supposes that most pessimism comes from erroneous interpretation of the unemployment.

Some people argue about the decline of unemployment is not satisfying; and some argue that the real unemployment is getting severe. Some other people even claim that we should include the underemployment.

Actually, no matter what number you apply, the growth of unemployment would not turn around so fast.

The reason that Becker expressed is the “productivity per person.”

The total domestic productivity is actually accumulated by countless individual productivity. Dr. Becker noticed that the productivity per person continues growing, no matter how severe the economy is. Therefore, when facing a decrease in total domestic output, say, a recession or a depression, the increasing individual productivity will cause more people lose their jobs (or make them turn to part-time ones). It’s just a simple arithmetic question.

Unless the number of total domestic output passes the prior highest record, we would hardly notice the improvement of the job market.

Conclusively, the economists who only focus on the statistics of unemployment may just make a mistake in the economics logic.

Dr. Becker’s viewpoint is not only interesting but persuasive.

Nonetheless, I wrote an article about the law growth of wages in Taiwan and the U.S. through the “Comparative advantages theorem.” See, “開放大陸勞工來台會降低台灣人薪資水平?.”Considering the social-welfare regulations, unions, and the minimum-wage limitation, the wages in the U.S. and Europe are more difficult to be adjusted in the downturn. This may be why their unemployment situation has been severer than Asian countries.

I have no idea of which factor matterring more. But it’s a question worthy of thinking.


諾貝爾經濟學獎得主Gary S. Becker 在9月9日寫了這篇文章「Productivity, Unemployment, and the End of the Recession」。裡頭除了談到他在去年底於華爾街日報投稿的「我們才不會走向蕭條(We’re Not Head for a Depression)」一文中,對美國經濟的樂觀預測維持不變之外,還提出了一個相當有趣的論點,值得記一下。


有些人看到失業率數字下降得並不令人滿意;有人則認為政府的失業率數字不可靠,實際情況是失業率仍在微幅上升;更有人主張要把做part time工作的人也算成失業才行。






但是所謂的不景氣,或是衰退,某方面可以看成是總產出(output)大幅衰退的現象。那麼根據簡單的數學運算,總產出下降,但個人生產力卻上升,這即意味著 — 失業率要上升!








About Conspiracy

Many people imagine that businessmen could set in a room and come to a conspiracy decision to raise the prices up then increase their profits.

However, it’s really only an imagination.

It’s always not easy to form a cartel or collusive group in any business. There are some obstacles must be overcome with a critical tactic.

I wrote them down as following:

1. To form a cartel or a collusive group, the first problem the founder must face is that it’s hard to figure out who are all the possible competitors?
For example, if medical doctors successfully raise their treatment fee as high as they want, then people would turn to get medical advices from their druggists, god, or themselves.
This phenomenon did happen in Taiwan in 1950’s.

2.The second natural obstacle to form a collusive group is that each competitor has their own unique cost curve. And this fact will cause them has different motives to choose to get in or to get out the group.
This critical fact will still impact how successful a collusive group can be after its formation.

3.The third is the difference between the single-quality products and multiple-quality products.
There are only few products in the world can be classified as single-quality products, such as pure gold, silver, aluminum, or other chemical elements.
Even a diamond, usually has four major qualities to form a price. They are size, color, tarnish, and cutting. A consumer see only one price, however, it’s formed by the combination of four measured elements.
The more complexity of a product, the more rent value could be created by differentiating the product. That’s why most business always emphasize how different their products are from other competitors’. That’s also why we have so many brands. It is the most common phenomenon in the real world.
This would not only make people to apply unique way to maximize their interest, but also form different cost structures to every supplier.

That is one reason why we can find very few successful cartels in the real world.

4.Once a collusive group was formed, the member who has a highest marginal cost will has the strongest incentive to violate their agreement.
Because with fixed-price or fixed-quality rule, the biggest beneficiary would be the one who enjoys the lowest marginal and average cost. On the contrary, the one with higher marginal or average cost would eventually figure out that he can maximize his interest by breaching the rule.

5. How to enforce the agreement will be a huge challenge to the one who tries to maintain the collusive group.
There are two major costs to enforce an agreement successfully. One is to detect who violates the rule; and the other one is effective punishment.

OPEC, the most famous cartel in the world, is constantly unable to enforce their decisions completely for decades. (If they could, there will not be as much fluctuation in oil prices as observed.)

M&A might be an effective way to achieve this goal, however, it still cannot prevent the group from potential or new competitors which might be formed by the company seller or your employees. Even there are some contractual ways to deal with these problems, they don’t work as well as lawyers’ imagination.

According to commercial history, the most effective method is to introduce legal power or authorization to prevent possible breaches of members and new entrants, like a license system.

Conclusively, the fundamental problem of most collusive behaviors is not what a cartel intends to do, but the authorization makes them able to achieve their intentions.

Therefore, in the cases we read such as “FTC v. Indiana Federation of Dentists,” Federal Trade Commission v. Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association,” I think Sherman Act and judges both tried to find out the right answer in a wrong place.

On the other hand, there are some superficially collusive behaviors without legal power or authorization, mostly are caused by information cost of measurement or property maintenance cost, for example, “Broadcast Music, Inc. v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc.” and “Fashion Originators’ Guild of America v. FTC case.” The courts apparently had different degree of awareness of social cost in these two cases.

Somehow, in “Klor’s, Inc. v. Broadway-Hale Stores, Inc. (1959),” the Federal Supreme Court showed distinguished lack of cost concept. I will talk about it in the next article.












第 36 條
直轄市或縣 (市) 政府對於企業經營者提供之商品或服務,經第三十三條之調查,認為確有損害消費者生命、身體、健康或財產,或確有損害之虞者,應命其限期改善、回收或銷燬,必要時並得命企業經營者立即停止該商品之設計、生產、製造、加工、輸入、經銷或服務之提供,或採取其他必要措施。

第 37 條
直轄市或縣 (市) 政府於企業經營者提供之商品或服務,對消費者已發生重大損害或有發生重大損害之虞,而情況危急時,除為前條之處置外,應即在大眾傳播媒體公告企業經營者之名稱、地址、商品、服務、或為其他必要之處置。



繼續閱讀 “蠢官員的蠢作為”




系統會發出這樣的信 相信業者的預設立場是願意交易的 才會去設計
也因此 他才能短時間內連續出錯 就如您之前那篇PCHOME所述
要避免這種錯誤並絕無可能 甚至要設計這種機制沒有任何技術上的困難
再者 那麼明顯的價格錯誤 如果大家都看的出來 DELL卻沒看出來還安心上網
這種內控不會太匪夷所思?? 那麼個人可能推論為是仗著 保留這樣的文字
至於美國 說實在 如果美國可以養這麼多怪獸企業和銀行
甚至讓消費者習慣標價錯誤為常態的方式 個人真的難以茍同
企業的能力原本就高於個人 如果能如此簡單逃避責任
那麼讓犯錯如此理所當然 而且最好是債大不愁的處理方式 看來應該是在美國經營大企業的不死仙丹
而且在美國看來還真的有效 然後把美國經驗搬來台灣再玩一次











繼續閱讀 “關於戴爾標錯價事件的再討論”



而也有細心的讀者發現過去我曾經就PC Home網站標錯價事件發表了一點法律上跟我個人經濟上的淺見 —


有讀者轉載到別的網站之後,認同我當時的想法。我必須說:「Sorry, but I just changed my mind!」






繼續閱讀 “關於戴爾電腦標錯價事件的短評”










繼續閱讀 “通貨緊縮與停滯性通澎是不會同時發生的–淺談台灣經濟近況”


The Great Depression,大蕭條,從1929年起,直至1939年結束。

傳統的歷史教科書,包含美國跟台灣的,多半寫道:1929年紐約股市大崩盤之後,甫上任的胡佛總統(Herbert C. Hoover)減稅、大幅刪減政府開支,試圖以此來力挽經濟之狂瀾,但事情卻越來越糟糕。

直到小羅斯福總統(Franklin D. Roosevelt)上台,採行凱因斯主義,大力地增加政府開支、引進干預,透過「新政(New Deal)」,才終於拯救美國經濟。



繼續閱讀 “兩個大蕭條”


這是Wall Street Journal上一篇相當簡單又不錯的文章:「Why Government Can’t Run a Business?」,而副標題下得更好,直接了當地把答案說白了:

「Politicians need headlines. Executives need profits.」







繼續閱讀 “為何政府不能經營好企業?”