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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Antitrust (competition) policy in the United States and Europe commonly is seen as well intentioned in the abstract, but flawed in practice. This chapter applies public choice reasoning to explain why laws ostensibly designed to protect consumers against the abuses of unfettered market power often fail to achieve that objective. Recognizing that the antitrust law enforcement agencies and the courts are peopled by rational, self-interested actors, the chapter summarizes the theory and abundant evidence suggesting that antitrust is no different than other forms of economic regulation and, thus, is influenced by special interest groups, which exert pressure through the legislative committees that oversee the law-enforcement bureaus. Exploring how the competition policy process actually operates undermines the untenable assumption that antitrust is designed to protect the public’s interest.

Keywords: antitrust policy, public choice, rent seeking

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