Law Professor Joshua D. Wright Nominated to the FTC

On September 10, law professor Joshua D. Wright was nominated by President Obama to serve on the Federal Trade Commission. Dr. Wright is a professor at George Mason University (GMU) School of Law and holds a courtesy appointment in GMU’s Department of Economics. He previously served as the inaugural Scholar in Residence at the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition from January 2007 to July 2008. Prior to coming to GMU, Dr. Wright taught at Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and clerked for Judge James V. Selna of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. He received a B.A. in Economics at the University of California, San Diego and a J.D. and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Wright, a Republican, will replace Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch, also a Republican, whose term expires this month. Dr. Wright’s posts on Truth on the Market, an academic blog on law, business, and economics, provide some examples of his antitrust and consumer protection-related comments:

  • On whether Google has committed antitrust violations by directing search results toward its own content: there is no significant evidence that Google is guilty of antitrust violations because there is little empirical evidence of search bias. Even if Google, like other search engines, favors its own content when producing the results of a search request… dissatisfied customers can easily switch search engines. In other words, the competition is just a click away.
  • On local government efforts to restrict the use of mobile apps for pre-arranged taxi cab rides on the basis that taxis, unlike higher end car services, are not allowed to take pre-arranged rides: local barriers to entry cause substantially greater dissipation of consumer surplus than is conventionally acknowledged…
  • On the confirmation hearings of now-CFPB Director Richard Cordray in September 2011: … the CFPB is hard-wired to take a myopic view of the tried-and-true benefits of consumer credit markets and runs the risk of harming many (and especially the socially and economically disadvantaged groups in the greatest need of access to consumer credit) in the name of protecting the few… If the CFPB agenda were limited to educating consumers about the costs and benefits of various products and improving disclosures, there would be far less need for concern that it will be a drag on consumers, entrepreneurial activity, and economic growth. However, the CFPB’s intellectual blueprint suggests a more aggressive and dangerous agenda, and the authority it has been granted renders that agenda feasible.

Wright must be confirmed by the Senate before he can begin his 7-year term as a commissioner. According to Truth on the Market, Wright would be the first commissioner to hold a law degree and a Ph.D in Economics.