Retail Price Agreements

May 28, 1947

Report Outline
Resistance of Prices to Pressure for Cuts
Legal Authority for Resale Price Maintenance
Economic Effects of Price Maintenance Laws

Resistance of Prices to Pressure for Cuts

Price Agreements Under the Antitrust Laws

Results to date of government efforts to promote voluntary price reductions have been largely negative. Prices of manufactured goods, in particular, have shown strong resistance to official and unofficial pressure for downward revision. President Truman looked to extensive price cuts to moderate demands for “second round” wage increases and thus remove the dangers of still higher prices and a possible collapse, brought on by a buyers' strike.

The President's public appeal for general price reductions, Apr. 10, immediately raised the possibility that joint action by businessmen to lower prices to the consumer would lead to prosecutions for violation of the antitrust laws. The Supreme Court has held that combinations to lower prices have no different standing under the Sherman Act from combinations to raise them. The President said he hoped a way could be found to save group action on prices for beneficent purposes from any taint of illegality and that the question was under study by Attorney General Clark.

No statement has since been issued by the Attorney General which gives any assurance that agreements among competing concerns to lower prices will not bring court action by the Department of Justice. Clark told Housing Expediter Creedon, in a letter made public May 13, that there would be no prosecutions of building materials suppliers who attended meetings to consider the need for “individual action for the reduction of prices.” At the same time he directed attention to the Housing Expediter's assurance that the meetings were not being held for the purpose of reaching “any agreements, understandings or joint action” on prices.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Price Controls
Jul. 26, 2019  Prescription Drug Costs
Aug. 05, 1954  Discount Selling
Aug. 10, 1951  Price Cutting and the Law
Apr. 25, 1951  Enforcement of Price and Rent Controls
Nov. 10, 1948  Basing Points and Delivered Prices
Sep. 14, 1948  Prices and Politics
May 28, 1947  Retail Price Agreements
Aug. 12, 1935  New State Laws for Price Maintenance
Apr. 03, 1930  The Trend of Commodity Prices
Antitrust and Monopolies
Antitrust and Monopolies