Monopoly Power

- December 3, 2021
Are new antitrust measures needed to restore competitive balance?
Photo of a row of John Deere tractors in Santa Rosa, California, on May 20, 2016. (Getty Images/Justin Sullivan)
A century after Congress passed a series of antitrust laws to rein in giant firms that dominated key industries, the same issues have re-emerged on the business landscape, from Silicon Valley to the industrial Midwest to Wall Street. Antitrust laws give government regulators legal tools to prevent companies from controlling a market in a way that harms the public by stifling competition or setting unfair prices. But how the government should enforce these laws has been hotly debated.

Which federal agencies are primarily responsible for antitrust enforcement? What are the key laws that they enforce?

Why do some business critics argue that bigness in corporations is an inherent problem? Why do others assert that large companies can be beneficial to the public?

1700s–1800sDistrust of concentrated power breeds heated fights over business regulation, including whether to create a central bank.
1900–1950sAntitrust enforcement increases, and new laws and agencies provide government with more tools to police trusts and monopolies.
1970s–1980sHuge companies grow and flourish again as many legal scholars and policymakers come to view antitrust enforcement as antithetical to free-market competition.
2000-PresentAs companies become bigger and more powerful and income inequality widens, critics of antitrust policy call for more vigorous government action to promote competition.

Does America Need Tougher Antitrust Enforcement?


Daniel A. Hanley
Senior Legal Analyst, Open Markets Institute.


Sean Heather
Senior Vice President, International Regulatory Affairs and Antitrust, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


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