AIRLIE HOUSE CONFERENCE ON THE ANTITRUST ALTERNATIVE: Antitrust Policy After the Reagan Administration. Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1987 Georgetown Law Journal
Georgetown Law Journal

AIRLIE HOUSE CONFERENCE ON THE ANTITRUST ALTERNATIVE: Antitrust Policy After the Reagan Administration.

December, 1987

76 Geo. L.J. 329




It is almost inevitable that we will soon see a more vigorous antitrust enforcement policy at the federal level. This Administration, often substituting conservative political philosophy for realistic market analysis, has refused to intervene in numerous cases that present serious competitive problems. A new administration will likely not be so extreme.

On the other hand, to say we will return to more vigorous enforcement is not to say we will return to the policies of the 1960s. We won't. The dichotomy between the Chicago School approach to antitrust and a more activist enforcement policy is often described in a misleading way as a contrast between the Posner-Bork-Easterbrook approach of the 1980s and the Justice Department's enforcement policies of the 1960s. A more accurate comparison is the Justice Department today and the same Department before the 1980 election.

The antitrust assumptions of the 1960s began to change at the FTC and the Justice Department long before William Baxter 1 arrived in Washington. What we might call "neo-traditional" antitrust can be dated from the case of Continental T.V., Inc. v. GTE Sylvania Inc. 2 in 1977. By the late 1970s, the antitrust agencies accepted the proposition that efficiency-enhancing mergers were beneficial, not harmful, and thus engaged in a more sophisticated effects-based analysis of vertical restraints, predation, vertical and conglomerate mergers, and price discrimination.

The results of the 1980 election did not simply continue this evolutionary trend. It led to a broad-scale attack on almost every aspect of antitrust enforcement. The next ...
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