The Antitrust Enterprise: Principle and Execution

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After thirty years, the debate over antitrust's ideology has quieted. Most now agree that the protection of consumer welfare should be the only goal of antitrust laws. Execution, however, is another matter. The rules of antitrust remain unfocused, insufficiently precise, and excessively complex. The problem of poorly designed rules is severe, because in the short run rules weigh much more heavily than principles. At bottom, antitrust is a defensible enterprise only if it can make the microeconomy work better, ...

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Overview

After thirty years, the debate over antitrust's ideology has quieted. Most now agree that the protection of consumer welfare should be the only goal of antitrust laws. Execution, however, is another matter. The rules of antitrust remain unfocused, insufficiently precise, and excessively complex. The problem of poorly designed rules is severe, because in the short run rules weigh much more heavily than principles. At bottom, antitrust is a defensible enterprise only if it can make the microeconomy work better, after accounting for the considerable costs of operating the system.

The Antitrust Enterprise is the first authoritative and compact exposition of antitrust law since Robert Bork's classic The Antitrust Paradox was published more than thirty years ago. It confronts not only the problems of poorly designed, overly complex, and inconsistent antitrust rules but also the current disarray of antitrust's rule of reason, offering a coherent and workable set of solutions. The result is an antitrust policy that is faithful to the consumer welfare principle but that is also more readily manageable by the federal courts and other antitrust tribunals.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

Hovenkamp applies his considerable expertise to an objective study of the relationship between microeconomic theory and court interpretation of US antitrust laws. He argues that, in spite of a history of conflicting goals, there is currently a consensus that the purpose of antitrust is to promote consumer welfare...This work will be of value to scholars and practitioners alike, as well as anyone interested in antitrust enforcement.
— D. F. Sheets

Michigan Law Review

Hovenkamp defends the antitrust status quo in accessible and wonderfully jargon-free prose. The book succeeds in offering profound insights for antitrust specialists while remaining accessible to lay readers...Regardless of where the law heads next, The Antitrust Enterprise is valuable simply on its own terms—as a compact and authoritative exposition of U.S. antitrust law. It is most interesting, however, as the archetypal defense of this era of antitrust modesty. Only with the benefit of hindsight—perhaps forty or fifty years from now—will scholars be able to understand fully this epoch in context. It is a safe bet, however, that The Antitrust Enterprise will be considered the classic work of this era.
— Daniel A. Crane

Daniel Rubinfeld
The Antitrust Enterprise: Principle and Execution is an excellent book, by an author who is both knowledgeable and balanced in his views of antitrust law and antitrust policy. It is aimed at a broad constituency of readers rather than specialists in the field, and its presentation is very clear, avoiding technical jargon and methodology. It is the best book of its genre that I have read.
Michal S. Gal
The Antitrust Enterprise: Principle and Execution exemplifies again why Professor Hovenkamp is one of the most cited and highly regarded authorities on antitrust today. The writing is interesting, thoughtful and thought-provoking, sprinkled with useful examples, and is easy to read. In his simple yet highly analytical style, Professor Hovenkamp analyzes, criticizes, and offers solutions to some of the main problems faced by antitrust doctrine and enforcement today. Should courts and enforcement agencies choose to follow at least some of the solutions suggested in the book, this would undoubtedly enhance the efficient and effective enforcement of antitrust.
Richard A. Epstein
Herbert Hovenkamp is that rare lawyer who combines a solid knowledge of history with a broad command of law and economics. His new book, The Antitrust Enterprise, is the fruitful product of this synergy, and promises to be this generation's version of Robert Bork's Antitrust Paradox. Clear, informative and up-to-date, it offers a sophisticated synthesis of economic theory and legal practice in the post-Chicago era that has seen a marked upsurge in antitrust activity, both as it relates to the coordinated activities of multiple firms and the unilateral practices of individual ones. Every lawyer, social scientist, or layperson with an interest in this field will want to have this book at his or her side.
Choice - D. F. Sheets
Hovenkamp applies his considerable expertise to an objective study of the relationship between microeconomic theory and court interpretation of US antitrust laws. He argues that, in spite of a history of conflicting goals, there is currently a consensus that the purpose of antitrust is to promote consumer welfare...This work will be of value to scholars and practitioners alike, as well as anyone interested in antitrust enforcement.
Michigan Law Review - Daniel A. Crane
Hovenkamp defends the antitrust status quo in accessible and wonderfully jargon-free prose. The book succeeds in offering profound insights for antitrust specialists while remaining accessible to lay readers...Regardless of where the law heads next, The Antitrust Enterprise is valuable simply on its own terms--as a compact and authoritative exposition of U.S. antitrust law. It is most interesting, however, as the archetypal defense of this era of antitrust modesty. Only with the benefit of hindsight--perhaps forty or fifty years from now--will scholars be able to understand fully this epoch in context. It is a safe bet, however, that The Antitrust Enterprise will be considered the classic work of this era.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674018976
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2006
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Herbert Hovenkamp is Ben V. and Dorothy Willie Professor of Law and History, University of Iowa College of Law.
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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

Part I. Limits and Possibilities

1. The Legal and Economic Structure of the Antitrust Laws

2. The Design of Antitrust Rules

3. The Promises and Hazards of Private Antitrust Enforcement

4. Expert Testimony and the Predicament of Antitrust Fact Finding

Part II. Traditional Antitrust Rules

5. Unreasonable Exercises of Market Power

6. Combinations of Competitors

7. Dominant Firms and Exclusionary Practices

8. Antitrust and Distribution

9. The National Policy on Business Mergers

Part III. Regulation, Innovation, and Connectivity

10. Antitrust under Regulation and Deregulation

11. The Conflict between Antitrust and Intellectual Property Rights

12. Network Industries and Computer Platform Monopoly

Epilogue: Antitrust Reform

Notes

Index

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