The Evolution of Merger Enforcement Intensity: What Do the Data Show?

19 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2020

See all articles by John W. Mayo

John W. Mayo

Georgetown University - McDonough School of Business

Jeffrey T. Macher

Georgetown University - McDonough School of Business

Date Written: July 13, 2020

Abstract

A growing narrative in the popular press and among some academics has been that antitrust regulators have systematically relaxed existing antitrust law enforcement. This narrative has led to calls for reinvigorated enforcement and even the passage of new tougher antitrust legislation. The merits of this narrative and the corollary calls for antitrust reforms depend in part on whether the claim that antitrust regulators have become more relaxed in their enforcement efforts over time is correct. In this paper, we employ data from the United States antitrust agencies to examine one element of this claim. Specifically, we investigate whether antitrust regulators have become less likely to challenge proposed mergers over time. Our results indicate that, contrary to the popular narrative, the Agencies have become more likely to challenge proposed mergers over 1979-2017. Controlling for the number of merger proposals submitted to the antitrust agencies, we find that the likelihood of a merger challenge has more than doubled over this period. We explore reasons behind this increase, and find that increases in antitrust agencies’ budgets have led to enhanced merger enforcement intensity.

Suggested Citation

Mayo, John W. and Macher, Jeffrey T., The Evolution of Merger Enforcement Intensity: What Do the Data Show? (July 13, 2020). Georgetown McDonough School of Business Research Paper No. 3651485, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3651485 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3651485

John W. Mayo (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - McDonough School of Business ( email )

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Washington, DC 20057
United States
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Jeffrey T. Macher

Georgetown University - McDonough School of Business ( email )

335 Hariri Building
Washington, DC 20057
United States
202-687-4793 (Phone)

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