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Reformulating Antitrust Rules to Safeguard Societal Wealth

Alan J. Devlin

Latham & Watkins

Bruno L. Peixoto

Lanna Peixoto Advogados; The Brazilian Institute for Economic Analysis of Law

July 3, 2009

Stanford Journal of Law, Business, and Finance, Vol. 13, p. 225, 2008

Myopic application of the antitrust laws has produced two perverse effects: it has halted increases in aggregate social wealth and erroneously sanctioned business practices that cause significant societal welfare losses. Thus, current competition rules give rise to a society deprived of resources it would otherwise enjoy. Present antitrust rules may appear to be formulated with the well-being of capital-constrained consumers in mind, but such is not the case. This Article debunks the consumer welfare standard, the current antitrust lodestar. We show that the competition laws currently draw an unwarranted distinction between producer and consumer wealth, subordinating the former to the latter. They do so absent sound distributional reasons justifying the promotion of one form of wealth-generation over the other.

This Article shows that the consumer welfare standard does not accurately reflect principles of Rawlsian justice and may, in fact, result in highly imperfect and possibly unjust redistribution. We defend a monotheistic approach to antitrust law, extinguishing the artificial division of society in the distinct and opposed classes of consumers and producers. We favor an antitrust policy in which expanding society's aggregate welfare and efficiently allocating resources in production are the sole goals. We argue that even if significant wealth transfers from the bottom of the social pyramid to its top occur because of the novel standard, redistribution should occur more efficiently through enhanced private mechanisms aimed at sharing increased wealth. We show which, and how, antitrust rules should be reformulated to both sanction Kaldor-Hicks efficient transactions and block welfare-reducing practices. Finally, we argue that legal and practical objections to the adoption of a standard focused on sharing increased wealth are easily surmountable.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 61

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Date posted: July 4, 2009 ; Last revised: July 6, 2009

Suggested Citation

Devlin, Alan J. and Peixoto, Bruno L., Reformulating Antitrust Rules to Safeguard Societal Wealth (July 3, 2009). Stanford Journal of Law, Business, and Finance, Vol. 13, p. 225, 2008. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1429572

Contact Information

Alan James Devlin (Contact Author)
Latham & Watkins ( email )
United States
Bruno L. Peixoto
Lanna Peixoto Advogados ( email )
Avenida Roque Petroni Jr. 999
São Paulo, SP
HOME PAGE: http://www.lpglobal.com.br
The Brazilian Institute for Economic Analysis of Law ( email )
Rua Sergipe 925
Belo Horizonte, MG 30130171
HOME PAGE: http://www.ibraed.org.br
Feedback to SSRN

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