Vol. LIII No. 2

Reconsidering Antitrust’s Goals

Abstract: Antitrust policy today is an anomaly. On the one hand, antitrust is thriving internationally. On the other hand, antitrust’s influence has diminished domestically. Over the past thirty years, there have been fewer antitrust investigations and private actions. Today the Supreme Court complains about antitrust suits and places greater faith in the antitrust function being subsumed in a regulatory framework. Two important factors contributed to this decline. The first is the salience of the U.S. antitrust goals. In the past thirty years, enforcers and courts abandoned antitrust’s political, social, and moral goals in their quest for a single economic goal. Second, antitrust policy increasingly relied on an incomplete, distorted conception of competition by adopting the Chicago School’s simplifying assumptions of self-correcting markets composed of rational, self-interested market participants. In this current economic climate, the United States is ripe for a new antitrust policy cycle. The quest for a single economic goal failed. Further, four oft-cited economic goals (ensuring an effective competitive process, promoting consumer welfare, maximizing efficiency, and ensuring economic freedom) never unified antitrust analysis. This Article proposes how to integrate antitrust’s multiple policy objectives into the legal framework. It outlines a blended goal approach and describes how this approach would provide better legal standards and would revive antitrust’s relevance.

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