Are We Cracking Down on Scalpers — or Consumers?

January/​February 2013 • Policy Report

Should concert ticket scalpers and secondary markets be reined in for the sake of rewarding genuine fans and artists? In the new issue of Regulation, David and Emma Harrington examine the Better Oversight of Secondary Sales (BOSS) Act — noting that the law is “a net designed to scoop up large‐​volume scalpers while letting die‐​hard fans and small fish swim on.” By delving into the billion‐​dollar‐​a‐​year concert industry, they conclude that “with so much money at stake, the greater concern ought to be that calls for government intervention are profiteering disguised as consumer protection.”

Pierre Lemieux argues that as fiscal problems deepen at all levels of government, the role of private, voluntary associations will become even more prominent. Lemieux demonstrates how nonprofits like the Appalachian Mountain Club — America’s oldest recreation and conservation organization — can address various forms of market failure. “This should be seen as an opportunity,” he concludes.

Elsewhere in this issue, Victor Stango argues that “despite their claims, credit unions seem unable to offer competitive payday loans,” and Adam C. Pritchard notes that the “conspicuous flaws with [initial public offerings] suggest that we should put an end to them, if we can establish a viable alternative.”

Jeffrey A. Eisenach and Kevin W. Caves ask what happens when local phone service is deregulated, and find that “early returns suggest liberalization benefits consumers just as long distance deregulation did.” Other contributors include Christopher S. Yoo on the tradeoffs between clashing regulatory paradigms and A. Barton Hinkle on the embarrassing state of investigative journalism.

The Fall 2012 issue features reviews of books on the moral limits of markets, a new theory of social justice, and how to cure the health care crisis. As always, it wraps up with Peter Van Doren’s survey of recent academic papers.