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Industry Trade-Balance and Domestic Merger Policy: Some Empirical Evidence from the U.S

  • Joseph A. Clougherty

The literature on antitrust in an open-economy setting is inconclusive with respect to the role played by trade-balance on the tenor of domestic merger policy. Using a panel data set composed of US merger reviews by industrial sector over the 1997-2001 period, I empirically test the impact of sectoral trade balance on the level of antitrust scrutiny. The results suggest that larger trade balances lead to more vigorous antitrust scrutiny; thus, ‘strategic’ merger policy does not appear evident, and consumer-surplus appears to guide US merger policy even under the lure of international competitive gains. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG - (Empirische Evidenz über den Zusammenhang von Leistungsbilanz und Fusionspolitik in den U.S.A.) Die "anti-trust"-Literatur bezogen auf eine offene Volkswirtschaft sagt wenig dazu aus, welche Rolle die Leistungsbilanz für die Fusionspolitik eines Landes spielt. In diesem Papier wird anhand von Paneldaten, in denen die Berichte der Fusionskontrolle in unterschiedlichen Industrien der U.S.A. über einen Zeitraum von 1997-2001 zusammengestellt sind, empirisch getestet, welchen Effekt die Leistungsbilanzen - nach Industriezweigen unterteilt - auf das Niveau der "antitrust"- Kontrolle haben. Die Ergebnisse der Tests deuten an, dass mit größerem Leistungsbilanzgewicht auch eine strengere "anti-trust"-Kontrolle einhergeht. Folglich ist eine "strategische" Fusionspolitik der U.S.A. nicht zu erkennen. Stattdessen scheint die US-amerikanische Fusionspolitik stark vom Verbrauchernutzen geleitet zu sein, trotz der Verheißung internationaler Wettbewerbsvorteile.

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Paper provided by Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG) in its series CIG Working Papers with number SP II 2003-19.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published under the title: "Industry Trade-Balance and Domestic Merger Policy: Empirical Evidence from U.S. Merger Policy for Manufacturing Sectors" in Contemporary Economic Policy , Vol. 23(3), July 2005, pp. 404-415.
Handle: RePEc:wzb:wzebiv:spii2003-19
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  1. Henrik Horn & James Levinsohn, 1997. "Merger Policies and Trade Liberalization," NBER Working Papers 6077, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jonathan Eaton & Gene M. Grossman, 1986. "Optimal Trade and Industrial Policy Under Oligopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(2), pages 383-406.
  3. Farrell, Joseph & Shapiro, Carl, 1990. "Horizontal Mergers: An Equilibrium Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 107-26, March.
  4. Damien J. NEVEN & Lars-Hendrik RÖLLER, 2000. "The Scope of Conflict in International Merger Control," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 00.25, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  5. Yano, Makoto, 2001. "Trade Imbalance and Domestic Market Competition Policy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(3), pages 729-50, August.
  6. Ghosal, Vivek, 2002. "Potential foreign competition in US manufacturing," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(10), pages 1461-1489, December.
  7. Fisher, Franklin M, 1987. "Horizontal Mergers: Triage and Treatment," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 23-40, Fall.
  8. Keith Head & John Ries, 1997. "International Mergers and Welfare under Decentralized Competition Policy," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 30(4), pages 1104-23, November.
  9. Damien J. Neven & Lars-Hendrik Röller, 2000. "Scope of Conflict in International Merger Control," CIG Working Papers FS IV 00-14, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG).
  10. Richardson, Martin, 1999. "Trade and Competition Policies: Concordia Discors?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(4), pages 649-64, October.
  11. William E. Kovacic & Carl Shapiro, 2000. "Antitrust Policy: A Century of Economic and Legal Thinking," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 43-60, Winter.
  12. Joseph A. Clougherty, 2002. "A Political Economic Approach to the Domestic Airline Merger Phenomenon," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, London School of Economics and University of Bath, vol. 36(1), pages 27-48, January.
  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. White, Lawrence J, 1987. "Antitrust and Merger Policy: A Review and Critique," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 13-22, Fall.
  15. 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.
  16. Avinash K. Dixit & Gene M. Grossman, 1984. "Targeted Export Promotion with Several Oligopolistic Industries," NBER Working Papers 1344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:101:y:1986:i:2:p:383-406 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Jonathan Eaton & Gene M. Grossman, 1983. "Optimal Trade and Industrial Policy Under Oligopoly," NBER Working Papers 1236, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Sorgard, Lars, 1997. "Domestic merger policy in an international oligopoly: The Nordic market for electricity," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 239-253, May.
  20. 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.
  21. Barros, Pedro P. & Cabral, Luis, 1994. "Merger policy in open economies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 1041-1055, May.
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