The Elgar Companion to Public Choice, Second Edition
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The Elgar Companion to Public Choice, Second Edition

Edited by William F. Shughart II, Laura Razzolini and Michael Reksulak

The Companion lays out a comprehensive history of the field and, in five additional parts, it explores public choice contributions to the study of the origins of the state, the organization of political activity, the analysis of decision-making in non-market institutions, the examination of tribal governance and to modeling and predicting the behavior of international organizations and transnational terrorism.
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Chapter 18: The public choice perspective on antitrust law

Fred S. McChesney and Katherine M. Larkin- Wong


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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