‘Nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action,
but not the execution of any human design.’
Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767)

06 February 2012

Mapping the Dangers of Competitive Harm

Last week a Cato Institute report caught my eye, about a French commercial court awarding damages to a map-maker for losses incurred through potential customers’ use of Google Maps.

Serendipitously, at the time I was reading Richard Epstein’s Free Markets Under Siege, where he examines ‘competitive markets and compensation for competitive harms’. In the free market system, sellers compete for buyers, who base their purchases on such qualities as price and quality. If the seller can meet consumer demands, free exchange will occur; if not, consumers will go elsewhere and the seller must either improve his business model or close up shop.

Yet the practice of competitive harm means that successful businesses must compensate businesses that are unable to attract trade — a practice that, if followed to its logical conclusion, means that the dynamic free market must ultimately succumb to the deadened economics of socialism.

Click here for my full argument at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

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