University of Southern California

Antitrust and Business History

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Article by Margaret C. Levenstein
From Volume 85, Number 3 (March, 2012)

What are the lessons of business history for antitrust policy? In particular, what are the lessons of business history for policies toward firms or practices that Standard Oil has come to symbolize: firms with monopoly power, firms that engage in predatory practices or vertical restraints, or more broadly, firms that just seem too big? There is an interesting and provocative literature that examines the practices and impact that such firms or practices have on consumers and competition. Several of the papers in this volume address the question of whether Standard Oil itself harmed consumers or competition. This discussion is active, after a century, in part because it gets to the underlying question of whether firms ever engage in predatory practices or whether such practices can in fact harm consumers.

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