The Globalization of Antitrust: History and Prospects

25 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2021

See all articles by Alden F. Abbott

Alden F. Abbott

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: May 2021


The United States stood virtually alone when it enacted its first antitrust statute in 1890. Today, almost all nations have adopted competition laws (the term used in most other nations), and US antitrust agencies interact with foreign enforc-ers on a daily basis. This globalization of antitrust is becoming increasingly important to the economic welfare of many nations, because major businesses (in particular, massive digital platforms like Google and Facebook) face grow-ing antitrust scrutiny by multiple enforcement regimes worldwide. As such, the United States should take the lead in encouraging adoption of antitrust policies, here and abroad, that are conducive to economic growth and innovation. Anti-trust policies centered on promoting consumer welfare would be best suited to advancing these desirable aims. Thus, the United States should oppose recent efforts to turn antitrust into a regulatory system that seeks to advance many objectives beyond consumer welfare. American antitrust enforcers should also work with like-minded agencies—and within multilateral organizations such as the International Competition Network and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development—to promote procedural fairness and the rule of law in antitrust enforcement.

Keywords: competition, antitrust, rule of law, regulation, due process, International Competition Network (ICN), OECD, rent-seeking, consumer welfare, digital plat-forms, Google, Facebook

JEL Classification: O10, N00, N40, L51, L38, F15, D02, F00, F01, K33, F60, K00, K21, L00, L40

Suggested Citation

Abbott, Alden F., The Globalization of Antitrust: History and Prospects (May 2021). Mercatus Research Series, Available at SSRN: or

Alden F. Abbott (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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