Reforming U.S. antitrust enforcement and competition policy

Fiona Scott-Morton; Equitable Growth

This essay is part of Vision 2020: Evidence for a stronger economy, a compilation of 21 essays presenting innovative, evidence-based, and concrete ideas to shape the 2020 policy debate. The authors in the new book include preeminent economists, political scientists, and sociologists who use cutting-edge research methods to answer some of the thorniest economic questions facing policymakers today. Topics range from economic inequality, race, and mobility, to competition, wages, taxes, macroeconomics, and family economic security.


Competitive markets deliver to consumers a variety of benefits: higher productivity, lower prices, better quality products, and more innovation. Yet firms have a financial incentive to restrain competition in order to obtain monopoly profits. There are three main harmful methods of limiting competition: colluding with rivals in a market, merging with rivals or potential rivals, and using anticompetitive techniques to exclude existing or potential entrants. U.S. antitrust laws are designed to prevent these behaviors by making price-fixing, bid-rigging, and similar behavior illegal, requiring government review of mergers to prevent those that lessen competition, and prohibiting anticompetitive conduct by an incumbent with market power that tends to exclude entrants and rivals. Unfortunately, over the past few decades, these laws have not been operating in a way that generates and preserves


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