U.S. Antitrust policy : The underperforming federal joint venture

The 2010 Horizontal Mergers Guidelines provide an opportunity for DOJ and the FTC to revisit and strengthen the institutional arrangements through which the US implements its competition laws. The performance of the federal government’s antitrust joint venture in applying and explaining the 2010 HMG will be a major determinant of the success of the new guidelines. The author’s hypothesis is that the DOJ/FTC policy collaboration, though successful in carrying out some common tasks, is an underperforming joint venture with considerable room for better work. If the DOJ and FTC are to be more effective at home and truly influential abroad in the formulation of international competition policy norms, the two U.S. agencies must achieve a deeper, wholehearted integration of effort that takes full advantage of policy complementarities. There is a deeper and still more difficult issue confronting the U.S. antitrust system : should it reduce the number of existing public enforcement agents or reallocate tasks among them ? Simplification by merger of the existing agencies may be unattainable, but greater policy integration by agreement between the two agencies is not.

1. Probably no element of a country’s system of competition law commands closer attention than its merger control regime. Mergers, especially the big deals, cause upheaval in the commercial and social order. Consolidations jar rivals, suppliers, and customers and jolt local communities that will gain or lose jobs. The media report major transactions prominently, and elected officials monitor the progress of deals through the merger review process. 2. Deals also are vital to the practice of the competition teams in law firms and economic consultancies that advise the merging firms and third parties. Big transactions provide the rare and diminishing occasions when clients say the magic words, “Spend what it takes.” In ratings of agency performance, such as the rankings compiled by the

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  • United Kingdom’s Competition Authority - CMA (London)


William E. Kovacic, U.S. Antitrust policy : The underperforming federal joint venture, décembre 2011, Concurrences N° 4-2011, Art. N° 39634, pp. 65-69

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