Policy Analysis No. 21

Antitrust Policy: Reform or Repeal?

By Dominick T. Armentano
January 18, 1983

Executive Summary

The current wave of business mergers raises the specter of increasing corporate monopoly power in the economy. Critics of industrial concentration claim that current merger trends are worrisome and that vigorous enforcement of the antitrust laws is necessary to preserve competition.

The critics are especially annoyed with antitrust chief William Baxter who, they argue, has essentially adopted a laissez-faire attitude toward monopoly. Although Baxter was the major catalyst in the historic divestiture of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, his critics contend that his policies in general have meant a less-active antitrust policy.

What is existing antitrust policy and does it make economic sense? Is a vigorous enforcement of the antitrust laws necessary to preserve competition? Or would we all be better off without any antitrust policy?

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D. T. Armentano is professor of economics at the University of Hartford and the author of Antitrust and Monopoly: Anatomy of a Policy Failure (John Wiley and Sons, 1982).