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Obama’s Antitrust Policy Turns DOJ and FTC Into Regulators

Editor's note: Huntsman Professor William F. Shughart II, J. Fish Smith Professor in Public Choice, and Diana Thomas, assistant professor of economics, wrote a paper analyzing antitrust enforcement in the Obama Administration's first term that has been published by the Cato Institute, a public policy research organization. Here is a press release the Institute issued about the research.


Cato Institute Press Release

William F. Shughart II, research director and senior fellow at The Independent Institute, and Diana Thomas, assistant professor of economics at Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, Utah State University, write in a new policy analysis:

Cato’s new policy analysis,Antitrust Enforcement in the Obama Administration’s First Term: A Regulatory Approach investigates how and in what ways antitrust enforcement has changed since President Obama took office in 2009. Shughart and Thomas review four recent antitrust casesthe behavioral remedies that were imposed on the defendants in those matters in detail. The authors find that the Obama administration has been significantly more active in enforcing the antitrust laws with respect to proposed mergers than his two predecessors in the White House had been.

The paper also shows how the Federal Trade Commission, together with the Department of Justice, withdrew a thoughtful report on the enforcement of Section 2 of the Sherman Act and issued new merger guidelines and a new merger policy remedy guide, all of which have moved antitrust law enforcement away from traditional structural remedies in favor of very intrusive behavioral remedies in an unprecedented fashion. This policy shift has transformed antitrust law enforcers into regulatory agencies, a mission for which they are not well-suited, resulting in the DOJ and FTC being more vulnerable to rent seeking.

Read the full policy analysis here.