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Bloomberg explains how Trump’s victory may affect antitrust

 |  November 10, 2016

Donald Trump’s stunning, come-from-behind election victory has people all over the world asking: ‘‘How will this affect me and my interests?’’ Yes, even antitrust practitioners are asking this question.

The Trump election campaign focused on a few themes — limitations on immigration, opposition to international trade agreements perceived to undermine US industry and US wages, the rights of gun owners, and potential rapprochement with Russia among them — but antitrust policy was not one of them. This is hardly surprising, as antitrust is almost never a topic in US presidential politics. Usually, at the presidential level, the issue is simply the degree to which the candidate positions himself as ‘‘pro-business’’ or as more inclined to regulate business activity. It is typically left to the president’s appointees to translate the approach into a concrete policy and enforcement agenda.

Mr. Trump’s pronouncements do not make it easy to place him on the antitrust spectrum running from
laissez-faire ‘‘pro-business’’ to highly interventionist. Even though he proposed to lower taxes on businesses and reduce regulation of business, he also spoke passionately against Wall Street and free trade.

Notably, he received little campaign support from Big Business groups and executives. So Trump’s policy statements do not themselves offer clear guidance to where his Administration will go on antitrust. It is also important to recall that he was a Democrat, praising President Bill Clinton’s performance in office, not that many years ago.

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