Economics Policy Brief Assignment

Policy on the Department of Justice’s efforts to reverse AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner.

Assume that you are working for your favorite policymaker (or prospective policymaker). As the only person on the staff with any knowledge of economic principles, you are tasked with briefly summarizing the policy, analyzing the associated markets, assessing the economic arguments both for and against the policy, and coming up with a recommendation as to whether the policymaker should support it. In a well-written and well-organized policy brief that clearly explains the relevant economic concepts, please address the following three issues:

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1) Briefly describe the policy in question and the markets impacted by this policy.
Here are some suggested issues to consider (you do not need to discuss all of them, and some are not relevant for some policies):

  What are the central features of the policy as it currently stands or as it is currently proposed? You will need to find/assume some details beyond what I have provided above, but try to focus on the big picture and essential elements of the policy.
  What are the goods or services being traded/provided? How would you define the market(s) involved? Who are the producers and consumers?
  What is the size of the market (e.g., how much money is spent by government and/or private entities, how many producers/consumers, how widespread geographically)?

2) Describe both the free-market and interventionist economic arguments for or against this policy. This will be the bulk of the assignment.

Suggested issues to consider:

  Is market failure a concern? What type? Why? Would both views agree?
  What are the implications of the policy for supply and/or demand under each viewpoint?
  What are the most important effects one would need to account for in a cost-benefit analysis of this policy under each viewpoint? Would both viewpoints agree on these effects? Do not actually do a CBA, just discuss.
  What are the implications for consumer and/or producer surplus under each viewpoint? Government revenue/expenditures? Efficiency?
  Are there implications for equity that we might be concerned about?2

3) From a purely economic standpoint, which argument do you find more compelling? Why? Would you recommend that the candidate support the policy?
Suggested issues to consider:

  What additional information you would need in order to make your decision?
  Would you recommend any changes to the policy?
Details and Tips:
  Maximum length: 4 pages of double spaced text (graphs, references, etc. do not count toward the limit).
  The use of numbers, tables, and graphs is strongly encouraged where relevant.
  Some outside research will be necessary. A minimum of 2 outside references is expected
(in addition to class materials).

Use short in-text citations or footnotes, noting author and year (e.g., Department of Justice website 2018).
Include a reference list at the end – any style is fine as long as it is complete (e.g., Department of Justice website,, accessed November 3, 2018).
Wikipedia is not a credible source of information. Do not use it.

  Please work completely on your own and cite all information from outside sources.
  Focus on the economic arguments. Assume that there is another staffer working on the politics. Finally, your argument will have absolutely no impact on anyone’s impression of you as either a “liberal,” “conservative,” etc.

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