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Regime Shift in Antitrust

  • Ghosal, Vivek

This paper empirically models the longer-run deep-seated shift in intellectual thinking that followed the Chicago School’s criticism of the older antitrust doctrine, the shorter-run driving forces related to switches of the political party in power, merger waves, changes in economic activity and the level of funding and quantifies their impact on enforcement by the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice over the period 1958-2002. The key findings are: (1) a distinct regime-shift in antitrust enforcement during the 1970s and, post-regime-shift, there has been a marked compositional change with a quantitatively large increase (decrease) in criminal (civil) antitrust court cases initiated; (2) post-regime-shift, there appears to be a change in the role played by politics with Republicans initiating more (less) criminal (civil) court cases than Democrats and the estimated quantitative effects are large; (3) disaggregating the total number of court cases into the main categories under which they are initiated (price-fixing, mergers, monopolization and restraints-of-trade) shows that individual types of cases have widely differing responses to changes in the driving forces; and (4) in a horse-race between the regime-shift and political effect on one side and the remaining variables on the other, the former forces win hands-down in explaining broad shifts in enforcement. Modeling the longer-run shift and disaggregating the court cases emerge as crucial to gaining insights into the intertemporal shifts in enforcement. The paper elaborates on the causes for the shift in enforcement and on the effectiveness of antitrust.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 5460.

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Date of creation: Feb 2007
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:5460
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  1. Anindya Banerjee & Robin L. Lumsdaine & James H. Stock, 1990. "Recursive and Sequential Tests of the Unit Root and Trend Break Hypothesis: Theory and International Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3510, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Faith, Roger L & Leavens, Donald R & Tollison, Robert D, 1982. "Antitrust Pork Barrel," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(2), pages 329-42, October.
  5. Ghosal, Vivek & Gallo, Joseph, 2001. "The cyclical behavior of the Department of Justice's antitrust enforcement activity," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 27-54, January.
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  9. Duso, Tomaso & Neven, Damien J & Röller, Lars-Hendrik, 2003. "The Political Economy of European Merger Control: Evidence Using Stock Market Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 3880, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Faure-Grimaud, Antoine & Martimort, David, 2003. " Regulatory Inertia," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(3), pages 413-37, Autumn.
  11. Amacher, Ryan, et al, 1985. "The Behavior of Regulatory Activity over the Business Cycle: An Empirical Test," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 23(1), pages 7-19, January.
  12. Robert W. Crandall & Clifford Winston, 2003. "Does Antitrust Policy Improve Consumer Welfare? Assessing the Evidence," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 3-26, Fall.
  13. Coate, Malcolm B & Higgins, Richard S & McChesney, Fred S, 1990. "Bureaucracy and Politics in FTC Merger Challenges," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 463-82, October.
  14. Ghosal, Vivek, 2002. "Potential foreign competition in US manufacturing," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(10), pages 1461-1489, December.
  15. Bergman, Mats A. & Jakobsson, Maria & Razo, Carlos, 2005. "An econometric analysis of the European Commission's merger decisions," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(9-10), pages 717-737, December.
  16. Siegfried, John J, 1975. "The Determinants of Antitrust Activity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 559-74, October.
  17. Dick, Andrew R, 1996. "When Are Cartels Stable Contracts?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(1), pages 241-83, April.
  18. Long, William F & Schramm, Richard & Tollison, Robert D, 1973. "The Economic Determinants of Antitrust Activity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 351-64, October.
  19. Kennan, John, 1979. "The Estimation of Partial Adjustment Models with Rational Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(6), pages 1441-55, November.
  20. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1996. "Macroeconomic Implications of Variation in the Workweek of Capital," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(2), pages 79-134.
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