In this edition of the Antitrust Chronicle, we present a set of pieces that deal with the interaction between antitrust enforcement and the pursuit of economic equality, which is to the forefront of modern political discourse.
In economic jargon, no terms are as fraught as the notions of “winners” and “losers.” From Rawlsian theory to the concept of Pareto optimality, these ideas are interwoven into every area of economic discourse, and the specific domain of antitrust law is no exception.
From the earliest days of antitrust enforcement, commentators have been aware of the redistributive effects of the rules and their application. Even commentators perceived to be on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum (adherents of the “Chicago School” of economists on the one hand, and “neo-Brandeisians” on the other) elaborate their theories in terms of “consumer welfare” (or its various synonyms) in order to justify them.
But what is the scope of “consumer welfare”? And how does antitrust enforcement interact with other political objectives, such as the provision of social care, healthcare, or the pursuit of equality? For example, does historical oppression of certain groups in a given country justify modulated enforcement of the antitrust rules that most countries agree are necessary for the functioning of a market economy? Should the state provision of certain services (like healthcare) be subject to the full rigors of the ma!-->…