Mr. Murphy said, however, that there was not a monolithic view among the university’s faculty, especially since many of the professors hadn’t been trained at the University of Chicago.
“They would probably agree more with what Luigi is saying compared to what I’m saying,” he said.
But Mr. Zingales said the tech industry’s network-driven business models — based on the notion that a service or a product becomes more useful and valuable as more people rely on it — was a relatively new area of study for economics.
Powerful monopolies like Google are a potential threat to democracy, Mr. Zingales added, because they hold so much sway over what we read. Google declined to comment.
Mr. Zingales also noted that the ideology failed to capture the risk of a monopoly’s exerting influence to persuade regulators and politicians.
In his address, Mr. Zingales implored the graduates to push back against today’s tech behemoths, just as the colonists had resisted the monopoly of Britain’s East India Company during the Boston Tea Party. He urged the audience to vote for politicians willing to stand up to Silicon Valley.
“This country was born fighting monopolies,” said Mr. Zingales, who still speaks with a noticeable Italian accent. “To fight monopolies, your power as workers, consumers and investors is not sufficient. Your participation in the political process is critical. This is not a Republican or Democratic battle. It’s an American battle.”
Then he addressed the elephant in the room.
“My conclusions may surprise some people who identify Chicago faculty, especially the economic and financial faculty, with a certain ideology. Chicago faculty, however, abide to a method, not an ideology,” he said. “It’s a method of intellectual inquiry without the blinders imposed by conventional wisdom.”