Chapter 11: Priorities in antitrust policy
I Introduction The centenary of the father of modern antitrust laws (the Sherman Act) in 1990 was seen by many in the USA as an appropriate occasion for appraisal and reflection on the purpose and achievement of antitrust policy (see, for example, Bittlingmayer, 1992). In the USA, there has been much discussion about what should be the fundamental objectives of antitrust policy and whether or not these are in accordance with the original intent of Congress or current interpretation by the courts (Bork, 1978; Brodley, 1987; Lande, 1982). The debate was sharpened by what was perceived by many observers to be a fundamental shift in policy in the 1980s during the Reagan and Bush administrations. With the Chicago School in the ascendant some prominent cases against large enterprises were dropped, and for many it seemed that little government action was being taken against exclusionary behaviour or mergers. For some even relative inactivity was insufficient. Nothing less than the complete revision of the antitrust laws would suffice (Armentano, 1982) or at least drastic curtailment to control only predatory pricing and cartels (Thurow, 1981). Amongst those observers who took a less extreme position there was nevertheless a recognition that, given the pace of development in many national and international markets, antitrust policy should be responsive to the needs of such changes. Some of these questions, such as the possible overlaps or conflicts between antitrust and trade policies, are dealt with in the next chapter. In the present chapter we focus on three...
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