The Cost of Antitrust Deterrence: Why Not Hang a Price Fixer Now and Then?

10 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2002 Last revised: 2 Nov 2009

See all articles by J. Gregory Sidak

J. Gregory Sidak

Criterion Economics, L.L.C.

Michael K. Block

University of Arizona


Through its antitrust enforcement system, society allocates resources to deter anticompetitive behavior. Antitrust enforcement is costly because prosecutors and judges mischaracterize some competitive or efficiency-enhancing behavior as horizontal collusion. In this early application of the Polinsky-Shavell argument about the tradeoff between the probability and magnitude of fines, this essay argues that, given prosecutorial and judicial error, society will not optimally allocate its antitrust enforcement resources by threatening price fixers with exorbitant economic penalties that have only a minimal probability of being enforced.

Suggested Citation

Sidak, J. Gregory and Block, Michael K., The Cost of Antitrust Deterrence: Why Not Hang a Price Fixer Now and Then?. Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 68, No. 5, pp. 1131-1139, 1980. Available at SSRN: or

J. Gregory Sidak (Contact Author)

Criterion Economics, L.L.C. ( email )

1717 K Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20006
United States
(202) 518-5121 (Phone)


Michael K. Block

University of Arizona ( email )

401 McClelland Hall P.O. Box 210108
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States
520-621-2854 (Phone)

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics