Antitrust Policy and Interest-Group Politics

By William F. Shughart II | Go to book overview

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.


NOTES
1.
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.
2.
George J. Stigler, "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics 2 (Spring 1971), pp. 3-21.
3.
See 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- group politics.
4.
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.
5.
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.
6.
Indeed, concern that antitrust hinders the competitive position of U.S. business in the world economy has become something of a bipartisan political issue. See Nadine Cohodas, "Reagan Seeks Relaxation of Antitrust Laws," Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 44 ( February 1, 1986), pp. 187-92.

-8-

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Antitrust Policy and Interest-Group Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles from Quorum Books ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Tables xi
  • Foreword xiii
  • Preface xvii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 8
  • Part I Normative and Positive Theories of Antitrust 9
  • 2: The Interest-Group Theory of Government 36
  • Part II Private Interests at Work 51
  • 3: Business Enterprise 53
  • 4 - The Antitrust Bureaucracy 100
  • 5: The Congress 104
  • 6: The Judiciary 121
  • 7: The Private Antitrust Bar 138
  • Part III The Political Economy of Antitrust 155
  • 8: Using Antitrust to Subvert Competition 157
  • 9: Reform in the Realm of Interest-Group Politics 177
  • Select Bibliography 197
  • Index 203
  • About the Author 209
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