The Politics of M&A Antitrust
Journal of Accounting Research, Volume 58, Issue 1, March 2020
Posted: 9 Mar 2020
Date Written: March 1, 2020
Antitrust regulators play a critical role in protecting market competition. We examine whether the political process affects antitrust reviews of merger transactions. We find that acquirers and targets located in the political districts of powerful U.S. congressional members who serve on committees with antitrust regulatory oversight receive relatively favorable antitrust review outcomes. To establish causality, we use plausibly exogenous shocks to firm–politician links and a falsification test. Additional findings suggest congressional members’ incentives to influence antitrust reviews are affected by three channels: special interests, voter and constituent interests, and ideology. In aggregate, our findings suggest that the political process adversely interferes with the ability of antitrust regulators to provide independent recommendations about anticompetitive mergers.
Keywords: political economy; antitrust; FTC; DOJ; Senate Committee on the Judiciary; House Judiciary Committee; mergers and acquisitions
JEL Classification: D72; G34; G38; K21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation