Do Antitrust Laws Limit U.S. Competitiveness?

July 7, 1989

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For a hundred years Congress has prohibited American businesses from creating monopolies, fixing prices or otherwise restraining trade. Now, critics say that antitrust laws must be amended or even revoked if U.S. businesses are to compete in world markets. Antitrust supporters, however, say such talk is only a ruse to disguise longstanding objections to antitrust restrictions. They say consumers continue to have far more to lose than to gain from any change.

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The Sherman Antitrust Act is approaching its 100th birthday,and America's antitrust laws are under attack. Antitrust laws obstruct rather than encourage competition, critics charge, and with the chronic U.S. trade deficits of the 1980s, the laws are a handicap American companies can ill afford.

“The time has come for us to realistically look at the antitrust laws and try to mold them to our favor and not to the interests of foreigners, [who] have no such restrictions,” wrote then-Commerce Secretary C. William Verity Jr. in The Wall Street Journal last December. In an unusual double-barreled blast at the statutes, Verity and Attorney General Dick Thornburgh in adjacent articles called for relaxation of antitrust laws to allow U.S. manufacturers to undertake joint production efforts without having to worry about lawsuits from competitors or consumers.

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Antitrust and Monopolies
Antitrust and Monopolies