Trustbusters : Competition, Policy Authorities, Speak out

David Evans

Competition policy (antitrust in the United States) has grown explosively in the last quarter century. As of 2004, 102 countries, from Albania to Zimbabwe, had national competition laws on their books and authorities to enforce them. Together, these countries account for more than 85 percent of global population. But the sheer numbers just begin to define the extent of the revolution that has occurred.

Any corporation that wishes to expand, whether inside or outside its geographic borders, must learn the new rules of the game. Just like tennis players who swear when they are penalized for a foot fault or when their shots are called out of bounds, enterprises complain when they find themselves in the hard glare of the competition authority, and especially when they are hit with an adverse decision. Love them or hate them though, trustbusters are part of the game of competition. Countries that have embraced that sport for pursuing economic prosperity have almost all recognized that competition needs a referee. Otherwise, the game of competition may be fixed through collusion, and firms may seek to win not through the merits but through practices that reduce long-run economic well-being. Antitrust laws have spread around the world precisely because the world has embraced markets as the engine of growth.

But trustbusters are not just referees ; they have an institutional interest in preserving and promoting competition. Many antitrust authorities work to educate the public on the importance of competition and how competition advances consumer welfare. Although competition authorities are regulators of markets, they are also advocates of markets. This book, with essays written by 22 global competition authorities, representing both developed and developing economies, defines the shape and scope of the expanded two-sided roles these trustbusters are creating inside this competition revolution.