Capitol Report: Senate panel’s antitrust hearing could deliver hints on government’s probes into Big Tech

Capitol Report: Senate panel’s antitrust hearing could deliver hints on government’s probes into Big Tech

Officials from the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission may provide more information on Tuesday afternoon about their antitrust probes that are targeting Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.


Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, the DOJ’s antitrust chief, and FTC Chairman Joseph Simons are scheduled to testify at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee.


“We expect senators to focus on the state of these investigations, which could help clue investors into how long the agencies expect these investigations to last,” said Height Capital Markets analysts in a note Tuesday. The lawmakers on the Senate panel are likely to ask about the reports of tension between the DOJ and FTC over antitrust turf that might end up hampering the investigations into the companies, the analysts added.


“We continue to believe that it will take 3-5 years before any antitrust action is taken against Big Tech companies given the nascent stages of the DOJ’s and FTC’s investigations,” Height’s team also said.


Related: News cycle is daily reminder of Big Tech’s antitrust vulnerabilities


And see: DOJ antitrust chief warns Big Tech, noting Standard Oil parallel


Two lower-tier Democratic presidential hopefuls, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, are members of the antitrust subcommittee, and some analysts are expecting they will talk up the need for a tough approach to antitrust issues during the hearing, which is titled “Oversight of the Enforcement of the Antitrust Laws.”


As Big Tech deals with antitrust probes and other Washington scrutiny, Amazon and Facebook are on pace for record-setting levels of disclosed lobbying spending this year, as Apple and Google also report significant outlays. In this year’s first half, Amazon shelled out $7.9 million, Facebook spent $7.5 million, Apple shelled out $3.7 million, and Google, $6.3 million.


Beyond Washington’s moves, 50 state attorneys general, led by Texas, have open an investigation into Google’s potentially monopolistic behavior.


Amazon’s stock AMZN, +0.63%  is up 21% this year, Apple AAPL, +0.04%  has tacked on 39%, Facebook FB, -0.04%  is higher by 42%, and Alphabet GOOG, -0.32% GOOGL, -0.40%  has gained 18%. Meanwhile, the broad S&P 500 benchmark SPX, +0.02%  has risen 19%.