Chapter 9 stresses that, like the enforcement process itself, antitrust
reform does not take place in a political vacuum. The interest-group
theory nonetheless has two important implications for the debate
about reform. First, it must be recognized that the same incentives and
constraints that operate in the enforcement of existing policy will
influence decision making about the design of new policies. Second,
as long as government holds a monopoly of antitrust policy, there will
be strategic use of that policy by private interest groups having a stake
in its exercise. Thus, while the "unintended" consequences of antitrust
might in principle be mitigated through efforts to change existing
incentives by, for example, carefully considering efficient assignments
of the right to sue, the optimal payoffs from antitrust suits, and so on,
such consequences cannot be wholly eliminated even by the best-intentioned of reformers.
Robert H. Bork, The Antitrust Paradox: A Policy at War with Itself ( New York: Basic Books, 1978), is an excellent example of this point of view.
George J. Stigler, "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of
Economics 2 (Spring 1971), pp. 3-21.
Bruce L. Benson,
M. L. Greenhut, and
Randall G. Holcombe, "Interest
Groups and the Antitrust Paradox," Cato Journal 6 (Winter 1987), pp. 801-17, who
stress vague statutory language and the broad enforcement mandate of the Federal Trade Commission as key factors linking antitrust policy and interest-
James M. Buchanan, "Toward Analysis of Closed Behavioral Systems," in James M. Buchanan and
Robert D. Tollison, eds., Theory of Public Choice ( Ann
Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1972), pp. 11-23.
George J. Stigler, "Supplementary Note on Economic Theories of Regulation (1975)," in
George J. Stigler, The Citizen and the State: Essays on Regulation
( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975), p. 140.
Indeed, concern that antitrust hinders the competitive position of U.S.
business in the world economy has become something of a bipartisan political
Nadine Cohodas, "Reagan Seeks Relaxation of Antitrust Laws," Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 44 ( February 1, 1986), pp. 187-92.