A Critical Evaluation of the Chicago School of Antitrust Analysis
The publication of this clinically analytical and trenchantly insightful volume is felicitously timed. By fortuitous coincidence, it comes at a time when the Chicago School enjoys a high-water mark of acceptance in U.S. legal circles, and at a time when the U.S. merger movement of the 1980s is cresting. It provides a welcome warning against the dangers of translating abstract theories, based on highly restrictive (and unrealistic) assumptions, into facile public policy recommendations. As such the Schmidt/Rittaler study serves as a needed antidote to the currently fashionable predilection to confuse ideology with science. In the Chicago lexicon, the only appropriate policy toward business is a policy of untrammeled laissez-faire. Because there are no market imperfec tions (other than government-created or trade-union-generated monopolies), the market can be trusted to regulate economic activity, inexorably meting out appropriate rewards and punishments. In this ideal world, corporate size and power can be safely ignored. After all, corporations become big only only because they are efficient, only because they are productive, only because they have served consumers better than their rivals, and only because no newcomers are good enough to challenge their dominance. Once an industrial giant becomes lethargic and no longer bestows its productive beneficence on society, it will inevitably wither and eventually die. This is the "natural law" that governs economic life. It demands obedience to its rules. It tolerates no interference by the state.