Book Review: Antitrust and Monopoly: Anatomy of a Policy Failure by Dominick T. Armentano

(John Wiley & Sons, 605 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10158), 1982 • 292 pages • $22.95 cloth, $12.95 paperback

This is an extensive revision of Professor Armentano’s classic 1972 study, The Myths of Antitrust. The cases have been updated and the arguments reinforced. A good book has been made even better.

All the major antitrust cases are carefully analyzed and thoroughly critiqued. The economic history of each case is given, along with the important court decisions. Most of these decisions, the author shows, penalized companies whose only crime was that they reduced costs, improved products, and thus served many willing customers.

But such competitive processes are ignored by the practitioners of antitrust. They view competition, not as a market process aimed at winning customer approval, but in terms of the size and number of firms in a given industry. On these grounds, it has been easy to convict firms which grew because consumers preferred their products.

If a company grows by efficiently serving the buying public, who is to complain? Frequently, complaints are led by the company’s rivals. Sometimes they attack the successful firm by filing antitrust suits.

Other rivals seek government franchises, certificates of public convenience, licenses, tariffs, price-sup-port programs, and similar barriers to entry. The companies that hide behind these legal barriers are the true monopolists, but they receive scant attention from those who claim to protect the consumer’s interests.

Since the publication of The Myths of Antitrust, several prominent authors have joined Professor Armentano in criticizing the efficacy of antitrust. But his books remain the only major studies which consistently view competition as a dynamic process, and oppose all antitrust on principle. Only through such principled, carefully reasoned opposition will the antitrust laws be repealed.