Sep 14, 2021
U.S. antitrust laws do not apply to all commercial activities. Antitrust exemptions have been granted to certain industry sectors favored by the federal government. In the first half century of the antitrust law, law enforcement activities were strict and sometimes lenient, which reflected the shift in policy focus and applied economic thinking. However, after World War II, antitrust law enforcement became active. This reflects the new economic research on the presumed harm of industrial concentration and the revival of antitrust concepts ("big is bad") aimed at protecting small competitors from being plundered by big companies.
However, the research results of scholars in the 1970s overturned the view that industrial concentration is always harmful to competition. It also explains that many commercial arrangements that have been rashly condemned by the courts actually increase economic efficiency and benefit consumers. This "Chicago School" study was supplemented by other new schools, which (albeit different in some details) agreed that it is important to focus on the actual economic impact of commercial restrictions on a case-by-case basis.
Antitrust law enforcement officers have accepted this new academic thinking, and companies have begun to rely heavily on economists who have received academic training to guide companies in law enforcement policies. The court also agreed with this point, shifting from the category of automatic condemnation to the economic analysis of specific cases of the facts submitted to them.