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Antitrust’s Curse of Bigness Problem

 |  April 9, 2020

By D. Daniel Sokol (University of Florida)

Tim Wu’s most recent book, The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the Gilded Age, is an attempt to reframe contemporary antitrust debates by returning antitrust to its more populist roots. Given the global implications of his ideas and policy proposals (including breakup of tech platforms) for many of the large corporations that he takes on, The Curse of Bigness offers profound insights for how society and business should be organized. The first part of this Review summarizes Wu’s major claims. It then highlights some of his critiques as to “bigness,” the multiple goals of antitrust, and the missed opportunities as to cases that should have been or need to be brought, such as against tech companies. Some of Wu’s critiques are spot on in identifying missed opportunities, like a number of horizontal mergers that should have been challenged. Where Wu’s book suffers is where he undervalues the institutional structure of antitrust law, underplays what antitrust does well as a substantive matter, and misanalyzes antitrust and tech platforms.

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