Federalism in Antitrust
Robert W. Hahn
University of Oxford, Smith School; Georgetown University
Charles River Associates; Northwestern University
AEI-Brookings Joint Center Working Paper No. 02-09
Several scholars have suggested that states should play a much more limited role in antitrust enforcement, especially in matters that are national or global in scope. In this paper, we analyze the states' part in the Microsoft case - a case that illustrates the costs of state intervention in antitrust matters that extend beyond state borders. Here, the states' involvement lengthened the lawsuit, complicated the settlement process, and increased both legal uncertainty and litigation costs. These results followed from the states' focus on parochial interests rather than broader concerns for efficiency and equity. We conclude that a state's antitrust enforcement authority should be restricted in matters that extend beyond its borders.
After analyzing the motivations for state behavior in federal antitrust, we consider whether restrictions should apply to federal antitrust authorities in cases with international implications. Though a global competition authority could, in principle, be designed to maximize economic well-being, practical and political obstacles appear to rule this option out, at least in the short term.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 47
Keywords: antitrust, federalism, states, enforcement
JEL Classification: L40
Date posted: October 4, 2005