Scaling Innovation: Why We Should Preserve the Consumer Welfare Standard in Antitrust Policy
For the last 40 years, antitrust policy has been guided by the consumer welfare standard, which generally allows companies to pursue mergers and other market strategies absent harm to consumers or anticompetitive conduct. But some activists have advocated for actively pushing back against the formation of large firms, an approach championed in the early 20th century by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. Today’s neo-Brandeisians worry about what they see as undue concentrations of economic and political power, and they hope to prop up small businesses. They largely discount the economic efficiencies and innovation that large companies can generate, and they urge policymakers to abandon the consumer welfare standard in favor of expanding the scope of antitrust to include a host of other, often conflicting and ill-defined goals.