December 1, 2023 | Expertise

The FTC and 17 state attorneys general have filed a lawsuit against Amazon, accusing the online retail and technology giant of engaging in anticompetitive practices. The FTC alleges that Amazon used a set of algorithmic pricing strategies to stifle competition. It claims the e-commerce giant utilizes is a strategic algorithm to discourage competitors from offering lower prices. To do so, the FTC claims that Amazon uses a “game theory approach,” copying others’ pricing changes and never making the first move. Another tactic, codenamed “Project Nessie,” is to raise prices of specific products for which the algorithm predicts other sellers will follow Amazon’s price increases. 

In the rapidly evolving landscape of AI pricing, economists can help untangle the complexities associated with algorithm-driven pricing strategies. Let's delve into the way economic analysis can address complex questions in both the business and litigation contexts.

1. Analyzing Pricing Dynamics: Algorithm pricing reacts instantly to changes in businesses conditions. The resulting rich dynamics might make them difficult to interpret. Through advanced econometric analyses, our economists can distill insights from massive pricing data, such as distinguishing between legitimate market-driven price adjustments and potential collusive practices. 

2. Evaluating Pricing Transparency: Pricing transparency is important for several reasons, as it contributes to fair and open markets, encourages healthy competition, and benefits both businesses and consumers.  Frequent price changes can intensify competition as businesses strive to respond quickly to market conditions or competitor actions. Frequent price changes can be analyzed to provide insights into the factors that influence pricing decisions.

3. Evaluating Competitive Effects: As the FTC argues in the Amazon case, certain algorithmic pricing strategies are considered anticompetitive. Through economic analysis, our economists can help assess the competitive effects of AI pricing strategies, such as whether they create barriers to entry, limits competition and/or market diversity.

4. Consumer Welfare Impact Assessment: Consumer welfare is often an important consideration in many instances, such as in antitrust inquiries. With AI pricing, consumers may face price changes that are more frequent and synchronized. Our economists can leverage this to provide deep insights into consumer preferences such as price elasticity and to evaluate whether AI pricing aligns with principles of fair competition and whether it benefits consumers in the long run.

5. Addressing Data Privacy Concerns: AI pricing strategies thrive on data. Our economists can collaborate with businesses to implement robust measures addressing data privacy concerns, striking a balance between effective data utilization for pricing strategies and protecting consumer privacy.

6. Effectiveness and Efficiency Assessment: When undertaking AI pricing strategies, businesses need to consider both effectiveness (i.e., are the strategies actually driving better results?) and efficiency (i.e., can we implement the same strategies and achieve the same results with less data?). Economists have a wide range of established tools for assessing both.

Let's collaborate and navigate the complexities together! Whether you're looking to fine-tune your strategies, address legal considerations, or simply explore new possibilities, our team of economic experts is here for you. You can contact us at