Fair Competition: The Law and Economics of Antitrust Policy

Fair Competition: The Law and Economics of Antitrust Policy

Fair Competition: The Law and Economics of Antitrust Policy

Fair Competition: The Law and Economics of Antitrust Policy

Excerpt

Four years ago, impressed by the mounting criticism by economists of current antitrust developments, we persuaded the Cornell Social Science Research Center to make us a grant for an exploratory study of vertical relationships between large and small business under the antitrust laws. We began by studying the economic implications of key court and commission decisions in the grocery and gasoline fields; but we came increasingly to realize the extent to which the antitrust laws embody broader social conceptions of equity and fair business dealing. We found that the decisions could not be fully understood or fairly appraised by economic standards alone. Hence we concluded that the appropriate question for economists to ask about antitrust policy is not whether this is the most efficient way of structuring or reorganizing the economy, but the inverted one: Does antitrust conflict seriously with the requirements of efficiency? In the current jargon, is fair competition "workable"? This is the question we try to answer in this book.

We focus our attention on the decisions of the last fifteen years that have given rise to the "new economic criticism"--the decisions illustrating divergent legal and economic conceptions of monopoly and competition. We treat only indirectly the traditional law of unfair competition, of misrepresentation, molestation, trade-mark infringement, and the like. We do not attempt to formulate a new law from scratch, but to analyze and evaluate the rationale of the law we now have. We are as aware . . .

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