ARTICLE: COMPETITION POLICY - ECONOMIC ANALYSIS - ANTITRUST - CONSUMER WELFARE

Some reactions to “reactionary antitrust”

Over the past several years, the consensus that antitrust should focus on protecting the competitive process as measured through its impact on consumer welfare has come under increasing attack. In a recent article, Professor John Newman critiques certain arguments made by those defending the consumer welfare standard and proposes that these arguments be characterized by the moniker “reactionary antitrust.” In this article, we respond to Professor Newman’s arguments. We conclude that, while the debate initiated by critics of the consumer welfare standard should be welcomed and reflected on, proposals along the lines of what these critics advocate will do considerable harm to antitrust enforcement and the economy at large.

Introduction 1. Over the past fifty years, a consensus developed that the focus of antitrust should be on protecting the competitive process as measured through its impact on consumer welfare. [1] In recent years, this view has come under increasing attack from a growing number of critics. [2] While the criticisms of the governing antitrust consensus are many and varied, and while the critics have not coalesced around a homogeneous policy program, there appear to be some common threads. 2. The focus of many critics has been on the alleged theoretical and practical failings of the consumer welfare standard, and, in some cases, even a rejection of the neoclassical economic framework underlying that standard. Broadly, there is a desire to replace the consumer welfare paradigm with a

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Authors

  • US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (Washington)
  • George Mason University (Fairfax)

Quotation

Seth Sacher, John M. Yun, Some reactions to “reactionary antitrust”, November 2020, Concurrences N° 4-2020, Art. N° 96709, www.concurrences.com

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