Business Concentration and Antitrust Laws

May 25, 1966

Report Outline
New Trend Toward Conglomerate Mergers
Business Expansion and Antitrust Laws
Benefits and Abuses of Concentration

New Trend Toward Conglomerate Mergers

Sharp Increase in Merger Activity in Good Times

The current economic boom, now more than five years old, has provided fresh proof of the axiom that prosperity breeds business mergers. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 1,893 mergers were consummated in 1965, as compared with 1,797 in 1964 and 1,479 in 1963. The total for 1966 appears certain to exceed 2,000.

As was the case in past periods of intense merger activity, government officials are beginning to express fear that concentration will destroy competition. Sen. Philip A. Hart (D Mich.), chairman of the antitrust and monopoly subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently predicted that 200 corporations would own 75 per cent of the country's manufacturing assets within a decade unless the government took preventive action. Hart, addressing the antitrust section of the American Bar Association in Washington on April 14, 1966, asserted that the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department had shown little concern about “the greatest merger tide in history.” He added that the federal government might end up presiding over a non-competitive economy.

Speaking in the same forum, Assistant Attorney General Donald F. Turner, head of the Antitrust Division, said he saw no immediate need for drastic antitrust measures. “Antitrust policy,” he said in rebuttal to Hart's remarks, “is too important to be turned into a children's crusade against sin and iniquity.” F.T.C. Chairman Paul Rand Dixon observed that “We do not start with the assumption that all conglomerate mergers are illegal.” “On the contrary,” he said, “we take the view that the great majority are legal. Quite obviously the business community does likewise, because in spite of our so-called ‘tough’ decisions, merger activity has increased in each year I have been at the Commission.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Dec. 03, 2021  Monopoly Power
Jun. 12, 1998  Antitrust Policy
Jul. 07, 1989  Do Antitrust Laws Limit U.S. Competitiveness?
Jan. 15, 1982  Business Mergers and Antitrust
Jan. 31, 1975  Antitrust Action
May 25, 1966  Business Concentration and Antitrust Laws
Feb. 19, 1947  Enforcement of the Antitrust Laws
Dec. 19, 1938  Anti-Trust Enforcement Through Consent Decrees
Nov. 24, 1930  Revision of the Antitrust Laws
Antitrust and Monopolies
Antitrust and Monopolies