Competition, Cartels and Their Regulation

By John Perry Miller | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
GERMAN EXPERIENCE WITH CARTELS AND THEIR CONTROL DURING PRE-WAR AND POST-WAR PERIODS

FRITZ VOIGT University of Hamburg, Germany

During the past century cartels of different types, behavior and potential have flourished in Germany in response to changes in economic and political conditions. The study of the German experience with cartels, therefore, is very useful for an understanding of the nature and development of cartels and of the potentiality of various types of government policy. There have been long periods in which German cartels could evolve without any government control or intervention by government authorities. There have been other periods when the government could intervene in various ways with the behavior and development of cartels if they threatened to abuse their power. And while in one decade a special independent court controlled the activities of cartels, in another period the highest economic authority bore the principal responsibility for control. Moreover, there have been periods in which cartels were tools of state policy, and others in which they were generally prohibited.

When studying the cartels in Germany we note that certain types could easily be influenced, directed or even dissolved by state policy, but that others could hardly be dealt with effectively by the state, so that they survived even when prohibited.


I. THE PERIOD OF GOVERNMENTAL NON-INTERFERENCE (1860-1923)

In the epoch of liberalism in which economic theory and parliament were of the opinion that economic processes would lead to an optimal order if left to themselves, i.e. if state intervention was eliminated, cartels were viewed as private associations towards which the state should remain neutral. Prior to World War I there were no particular norms regulating cartels as private legal and economic agreements con-

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