9 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2001
An aggressive effort to use antitrust law to regulate the economy took place almost unnoticed in the final four years of the Clinton presidency. Highlighted by federal charges and assertions made in antitrust actions against Microsoft, Intel, American Airlines, Visa, and MasterCard, the government appeared to assume that successful companies engaging in aggressive business practices were guilty of antitrust violations unless they proved themselves innocent. The government also took the position that business practices could be unlawful even if there was no specific evidence that the practices harmed consumers.
Given that perspective, federal enforcement agencies under Clinton sought the restructuring and ongoing court-administered regulation of several critical industries. The new Bush administration, which inherits many still-open Clinton antitrust suits, must now weigh the virtues of policy continuity against the possibility that the courts will defer to a level of agency intervention that runs counter to Bush's business philosophy.
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