Free from What? Evolving Notions of 'Market Freedom' in the History and Contemporary Practice of US Antitrust Law and Economics

This research project investigates the reasons behind the US financial crisis by applying the tools of the history of economic thought to the postwar evolution of US antitrust law and economic

United States antitrust law is in crisis and needs a change, as evidenced by recent policy events, law and economics literature, and court decisions. If safeguarding markets against the abuses of powerful business interests is essential for the proper working of markets and thus economic prosperity, then the current dire straits of the US economy call for an urgent revision of how antitrust law is interpreted and enforced. This project will focus in particular on the inconsistency between the highly formalized, though often empty, theorizing of contemporary antitrust economics and the more basic, though often unfounded, analysis underlying real antitrust decisions (the so-called conservative, or Chicago, approach to antitrust). Only a thorough rethinking of antitrust economics that incorporates the dynamic and innovative sides of competition will enable a reconciliation between economic theory and legal practices and in turn open a new era of more effective antitrust enforcement.