Edited by William F. Shughart II, Laura Razzolini and Michael Reksulak
Chapter 18: The public choice perspective on antitrust law
For many years, antitrust was a poor stepson in the house of public choice. Due largely to Chicago School thinking of antitrust in public-interest terms, economists treated normative concepts about antitrust as making positive analysis of antitrust unnecessary. If the government had legislated it, it must be good. And so, iconoclasts urging an evaluation of antitrust in positive, rather than normative, terms were studiously ignored. (Throughout this chapter, ‘Chicago School’ is used as a metaphor for this approach, but that perspective has many adherents outside Chicago.) Positive public-choice economics, analyzing antitrust as just another form of economic regulation, has slowly made progress, however. This chapter attempts to capture the major developments in the growing perception that treating antitrust as economic regulation, and thus as susceptible to self-interested manipulation as is any other form of regulation. That attempt to separate positive analysis from the piously normative has distinguished the advances that public choice has brought to one’s thinking about antitrust.
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