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17 - Antitrust and the State

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 November 2009

Keith N. Hylton
Affiliation:
Boston University
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Summary

I follow the standard practice by taking up the current topic, antitrust and the state, after presenting a substantial part of Section 1 and Section 2 doctrines. There is no good defense for this other than convenience. The extent to which the antitrust laws apply to private actors who seek the state's aid in erecting competitive barriers is a subject of the highest priority. It is worthy of a course on its own.

This is an important topic for a simple reason: the market takes care of itself in the long run. In the absence of entry barriers, successful pricefixing conspiracies attract entrants. Competition from entrants drives economic profits to zero in the long run. Similarly, the operations of the market tend to foil efforts to corner the supply of a key production input. Attempts to corner an input lead to increases in its price. As the input becomes more scarce, competing bidders will offer higher prices to get access to it. A would-be monopolist who tries to achieve dominance through this route would have to beat the bids of competitors, and the bid that has the highest likelihood of winning equals the expected profits of the monopoly. But it would be absurd to call it success when a monopoly is achieved in this fashion.

The state is potentially the best friend of the would-be monopolist. The state can erect and enforce entry barriers.

Type
Chapter
Information
Antitrust Law
Economic Theory and Common Law Evolution
, pp. 352 - 378
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2003

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