Consumers won’t thank antitrust enforcers for repeating the mistakes of the past. Jessica Melugin, Competitive Enterprise Institute
From the date of enactment of the first antitrust laws during the Roman Republic right up to the present moment there have really been only three theories that have addressed the proper role of a government in controlling anticompetitive behavior.
By the mid-twentieth century antitrust enforcement in the US had become far more sophisticated than it had been for the first six decades after the Sherman Act was passed in 1890. Unfortunately, the ratio of success-to-fiasco remained roughly constant.
[So many people have asked about my views on inflation that I’m pausing my antitrust series to address that topic. Back to antitrust next week.]
Last week I suggested that the enforcement of America’s antitrust laws has made little sense since the Sherman Act was adopted in 1890. In fact, the word that comes to mind is “fiasco.”
When people who don’t like free markets (i.e., almost everybody in academia) talk about antitrust law, they almost always begin by saying something like this: “One of the core defects of market economies is the inevitability of monopolistic practices.”
The plaintiff’s law firm wanted to impress their client with how important the case was to them, and so there were never fewer than five lawyers at the plaintiff’s table. Plus, of course, the plaintiff himself.
More vignettes to show you what it was like to try a case – a big case – with Mr. W, the senior Reed Smith partner who looked terrific but whose elevator didn’t seem to go all the way to the top floor. After that I’ll return to my original topic: “Antitrust Is More Interesting than You Think.”
Mr. W was mostly trying other cases during the week, so we prepared for BS v. BS on weekends. Every Saturday and Sunday morning I would stroll into the Reed Smith conference room at precisely 9 a.m., and every Saturday and Sunday morning Mr. W would look up at me and say, “Dear God.”
After I posted last week’s blog a large number of people wrote in to ask how the private antitrust case turned out: Did I actually get eaten by rats? Did the case go to trial or settle? Did we win or lose?