<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

The U.S. government approves most proposed mergers. In a market-oriented economy, firms have the freedom to make their own choices. Private firms generally have the freedom to:

  • expand or reduce production
  • set the price they choose
  • open new factories or sales facilities or close them
  • hire workers or to lay them off
  • start selling new products or stop selling existing ones

If the owners want to acquire a firm or be acquired, or to merge with another firm, this decision is just one of many that firms are free to make. In these conditions, the managers of private firms will sometimes make mistakes. They may close down a factory which, it later turns out, would have been profitable. They may start selling a product that ends up losing money. A merger between two companies can sometimes lead to a clash of corporate personalities that makes both firms worse off. But the fundamental belief behind a market-oriented economy is that firms, not governments, are in the best position to know if their actions will lead to attracting more customers or producing more efficiently.

Indeed, government regulators agree that most mergers are beneficial to consumers. As the Federal Trade Commission has noted on its website (as of November, 2013): “Most mergers actually benefit competition and consumers by allowing firms to operate more efficiently.” At the same time, the FTC recognizes, “Some [mergers] are likely to lessen competition. That, in turn, can lead to higher prices, reduced availability of goods or services, lower quality of products, and less innovation. Indeed, some mergers create a concentrated market, while others enable a single firm to raise prices.” The challenge for the antitrust regulators at the FTC and the U.S. Department of Justice is to figure out when a merger may hinder competition. This decision involves both numerical tools and some judgments that are difficult to quantify. The following Clear it Up helps explain how antitrust laws came about.

What is u.s. antitrust law?

In the closing decades of the 1800s, many industries in the U.S. economy were dominated by a single firm that had most of the sales for the entire country. Supporters of these large firms argued that they could take advantage of economies of scale and careful planning to provide consumers with products at low prices. However, critics pointed out that when competition was reduced, these firms were free to charge more and make permanently higher profits, and that without the goading of competition, it was not clear that they were as efficient or innovative as they could be.

In many cases, these large firms were organized in the legal form of a “trust,” in which a group of formerly independent firms were consolidated together by mergers and purchases, and a group of “trustees” then ran the companies as if they were a single firm. Thus, when the U.S. government passed the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 to limit the power of these trusts, it was called an antitrust law. In an early demonstration of the law’s power, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1911 upheld the government’s right to break up Standard Oil, which had controlled about 90% of the country’s oil refining, into 34 independent firms, including Exxon, Mobil, Amoco, and Chevron. In 1914, the Clayton Antitrust Act outlawed mergers and acquisitions (where the outcome would be to “substantially lessen competition” in an industry), price discrimination (where different customers are charged different prices for the same product), and tied sales (where purchase of one product commits the buyer to purchase some other product). Also in 1914, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was created to define more specifically what competition was unfair. In 1950, the Celler-Kefauver Act extended the Clayton Act by restricting vertical and conglomerate mergers. In the twenty-first century, the FTC and the U.S. Department of Justice continue to enforce antitrust laws.

Questions & Answers

more explanation on GDP
Isaac Reply
What is economics?
Bubu Reply
by this time
Emmanuel
It is a social science that analyses production,distribution and consumption of goods and services
Emmanuel
A social science that study human behavior in relationship with decision making
Jessica
What are the typical patterns of GDP for a high-income economy like the United States in the long run and the short run?
mwangala Reply
What are the limitation and significant of macroeconomic
Usman Reply
explain the significance of concerpt of opportunity cost in planning
Mwanaid Reply
what is meant by the price elasticity of demand?
Martine Reply
when price of a commodity increase it's demand contracts , and whe the price of a commodity decreases it's demand expands so the degree of change in demand in response to change in own price of the commodity is called PED . Ed = percentage change in quantity demanded / percentage change in price
shaswat
What are the limitations of macroeconomic and their segnificant
Usman Reply
Discuss the role of competition in stimulating economic growth?
Daniel Reply
competition stimulate economic growth because in such types of economy,they is no monopoly power every supplier will want to produce to meet customers choice which brings about quality production and attract invested and customers into such economy
Koka
competition creates Monopoly because of economy of scale. it's not antithesis but different side of same coin
toko
competition result in high economic growth since every firm will intend to provide quality services and products to meet customers needs and requirements unlike in Monopoly situation where a firm just provide what it want to resulting in large stock piles of unwanted products ,ie inefficiency, howev
Mark
microeconomics study part of the economy but macroeconomic study the whole economy
Olokun Reply
studying the whole economy, solving the problem of the economy and building up the economy
Olokun
micro means small while macro means large
Olokun
standard of living is the footsteps of an economy because it plays important role for country to have crucial view about their budget ,import and export
Olokun
it will be differ because economic agent will only take their views on some part of household
Olokun
can opportunity cost be zero
OBED Reply
how many types of transportation do we have
Jacob
yes. when a customer's purchasing power is high, he may have d ability to purchase all he needs, dt makes opportunity cost zero
George
please can give more explanation on this question
OBED
what are the factors production
PETER Reply
Labour capital entrepreneurs
Leta
Land,capital, labour,and the entrepreneur
Tantoh
I will like to know use of calculus in economics
JHUMA Reply
do they use it in economics?
Pranav
I want to know if I should take calculus or statistics and probability my senior year of highschool
Yahir
yes for example in monopolistic competitive market..... TR=TC* & THIS CALCULATED BY CHANGING( DERIVATIVE LAW) MR =MC ** WILL BE THE FORMULA THAT USE.
Leta
please in which topic in economic is the question coming from.
Tantoh
from PCF in economics
Leta
why is unitary proportional to responsiveness
Etim Reply
any tip for igcse economics exam?pls
Stacey Reply
well
The
What is a market
Divine Reply
what are the variables that affect demand
Divine
what are the variables that affect demand
Divine
what are the variables that affect demand
Divine
what are the variables that affect demand
Divine
what are the variables that affect demand
Divine
price of the related goods 2 price of the given commodity 3 income of the consumer 4 taste and preference 5 expectation in the future price
John
pls the taste and preference
Nas
explain briefly
Nas
a consumer taste and preference commodity changes for a time the man becomes
John
sorry sorry
John
is when the price of a commodity becomes high and can't afford example Samsung instead of iPhone
John
consumers who have high intense for goods will purchase the goods even if the price of that commodity increases because he or she preferred that commodity.people will be prefer iphone as its price increase
Yussif
as usual bad taste of preference is when a consumer regrets from one commodity to another in terms of the price
John
thanks alot
Nas
you're welcome
John
#Preference; #Income #Test
Dereje
#price Of Commodity #Income #Taste #Preference
Dereje
#Market is The Place Where Buyers And Sellers Are Exchanging Their Goods And service. #
Dereje
difference between macro and micro economics
Lawrence
Microeconomic Study about individual consumers market But Macroeconomis Study General economic Process Such As #Aggregate Demand #Aggregate Supples #GDp= #GNp
Dereje
nice so can u run down a brife discussion on GDP
Lawrence
good
Chinex

Get the best Principles of economics course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Principles of economics' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask