What’s Driving the US Antitrust Agencies?

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As antitrust veterans know, no matter how much a new administration may want to change how antitrust is enforced, the bulk of the agencies’ enforcement agenda remains relatively constant from one administration to the next. Overheated rhetoric notwithstanding, most enforcement decisions are driven by the application of widely shared principles to the facts, with the result that the cases that get brought (or not) usually have more to do with the course of events – what deals are proposed, what misconduct detected – than the agencies’ current enforcement agenda.

Over time, however, trends emerge. With two years of Obama administration antitrust enforcement now on display, we have a sufficient record on which to draw some reliable conclusions about what makes this administration’s approach to antitrust enforcement different, and what those differences portend for the next few years.

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