Setting the Stage
Through the end of the 1960s, a distrust of private power and a faith in diversity lay at the heart of American antitrust. In the 1970s, the courts elevated the interests of consumers and placed limits on the guiding rule of pluralism, and the law regained lost realism, still within the antitrust tradition. But in the decade of the 1980s antitrust was turned on its head. Revisionists sought to justify a new vision for antitrust law -- or, more accurately, for the elimination of the law. The United States had lost economic supremacy in the world, and detractors blamed antitrust.
The essay that follows by Professors Eleanor M. Fox and Lawrence A. Sullivan challenges the claim that antitrust is the culprit that handicaps the United States in its quest for efficiency and progress. The authors describe the history and evolution of antitrust law and economics, explain the circumstances that produced the nonenforcement of law in the 1980s, review the various theories and conceptions that might shape future developments, and suggest a paradigm for antitrust economics that will promote progressive combinations and transactions, while remaining faithful to the law and to the facts.