Imagining EU antitrust enforcement in 2030

Ken Daly, Dec 10, 2010

On October 20, 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, the Pittsburgh Press reported on a meeting of American Institute of Steel Construction at which representatives of 166 steel concerns heard Charles N. Fitts, president of the Institute, and Charles F. Abbott, executive director, deliver their annual reports.

Fitts berated law-makers for the lack of assistance available in the recessionary climate and highlighted the:

“…narrow policy of our legislators who enact laws to guarantee the freedom of competition, but offer no assistance to those who are forced into bankruptcy because of ruthless competition.”

He added that:

“Our antiquated Anti-Trust Laws with many uncertainties prevent any group action to stabilize either prices or profits. They will undoubtedly be clarified by intelligent interpretation or modified to bring them into harmony with modern conditions.”

Following the same theme, his colleague Abbott advocated a government program with the aim of “educating industrialists to the realization that it is for their own good to co-operate and not indulge in cut-throat competition.”

Even today’s gloomy economic climate seems mild in comparison to what Fitts and Abbott were witnessing. In the three years prior to their 1932 meeting, industrial stocks had lost 80 percent of their value, 10,000 banks had failed, GNP had fallen 31 percent, over 13 million Americans had lost their jobs, and international trade had fallen by two-thi

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