The early years of American antitrust law: The British economists’ view (1890-1920)
It is rather well-known that most American economists of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era disliked the Sherman Act (1890), but reacted more favorably to the Clayton and Federal Trade Commission Acts (1914). A huge literature has investigated the reasons for this evolving attitude, calling into play the relation between big business, technology and competition, as well as a non-neoclassical notion of competition and an enhanced understanding of anticompetitive business practices. Much less investigated is the reaction of British economists to American antitrust legislation. It may thus be relatively unknown that, during the first three decades (1890-1920) of intense antitrust debate in the US, the issue was also prominent in British economic discourse. Surprisingly enough, given the countries’ common legal foundations, no major British economist favoured the adoption of an American-style competition policy.
Focusing on a heterogeneous subset of prominent experts in industrial economics, the talk will examine why, despite their ideological and methodological differences, those British economists shared a negative attitude toward legislative solutions to the antitrust problem. Understanding the reasons behind their refusal to press for a British version of the Sherman Act may illustrate what kind of competitive process and industrial development British economists had in mind at the turn of the 20th century, differently from their American colleagues. This historical episode looks ever more relevant today, when appeals for an overall rethinking of antitrust law are once again high in the American political agenda.
Nicola Giocoli is associate professor of economics at the Department of Law, Università di Pisa. He is the Managing Editor of the journal History of Economic Ideas. Professor Giocoli has published several papers in international journals and four books, including Modeling Rational Agents. From Interwar Economics to Early Modern Game Theory (Elgar 2003) and Predatory Pricing in Antitrust Law and Economics. A Historical Perspective (Routledge 2014). His research interests include the history of antitrust law and economics and the history of game and decision theory.
Dates & times
|Date||Time||Add to calendar|
|7 Oct 2019||5:00pm - 6:45pm|
If you are attending an event and need the College to help with any mobility requirements you may have, please contact the event organiser in advance to ensure we can accommodate your needs.