NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Avid Antitrust Activism

June 9, 1998

The Federal Trade Commission's decision yesterday to file suit against the Intel Corporation is just the latest episode in the government's rapidly escalating assault on large American businesses.

  • Last year, the Justice Department opened 276 investigations under the Clayton Antitrust Act -- up from 134 two years earlier.
  • The 1997 figure represents about a fourfold increase in Justice's antitrust activism compared to 10 years earlier.
  • Experts say the dominant view of the 1970s and 1980s was that there was no such thing as monopoly power.
  • But in the last five to eight years, that view has been shifting -- particularly among antitrust enforcers.

Other high-profile investigations by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission recently have involved Microsoft, competition in the airline industry, and mergers involving MCI and Worldcom, Lockheed and Northrop Grumman, and KPMG Peat Marwick LLP with Ernst & Young LLP. The last merger was derailed after antitrust agencies in the European Union, Australia, Switzerland, Canada and Japan launched investigations, along with the U.S.

Charles Rule, legal consultant for Microsoft, sees that suit as "an audacious attempt to convert the antitrust laws into a broad writ for pursuing industrial policy."

Source: Peter Kaplan, "Enforcers Rein in Business Behemoths," Washington Times, June 9, 1998.


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