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Reinvigorating Horizontal Merger Enforcement

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  • Baker, Jonathan
  • Shapiro, Carl

Abstract

The past forty years have witnessed a remarkable transformation in horizontal merger enforcement in the United States. With no change in the underlying statute, the Clayton Act, the weight given to market concentration by the federal courts and by the federal antitrust agencies has declined dramatically. Instead, increasing weight has been given to three arguments often made by merging firms in their defense: entry, expansion and efficiencies. We document this shift and provide examples where courts have approved highly concentrating mergers based on limited evidence of entry and expansion. We show using merger enforcement data and a survey we conducted of merger practitioners that the decline in antitrust enforcement is ongoing, especially at the current Justice Department. We then argue in favor of reinvigorating horizontal merger enforcement by partially restoring the structural presumption and by requiring strong evidence to overcome the government's prima facie case. We propose several routes by which the government can establish its prima facie case, distinguishing between cases involving coordinated vs. unilateral anti-competitive effects.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Regulation2point0 in its series Working paper with number 546.

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Date of creation: Jun 2007
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Handle: RePEc:reg:wpaper:546

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Web page: http://regulation2point0.org/

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Cited by:
  1. Russ Pittman, 2007. "Consumer Surplus as the Appropriate Standard for Antitrust Enforcement," CPI Journal, Competition Policy International, vol. 3.

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