Competition policy: Crossing continents

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A world of robber barons

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Competition policy


Competition authorities are increasingly reaching beyond their countries’ borders

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WHEN TWO AMERICAN presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, embarked on a trustbusting mission a century ago, they were taking government into a new policy area: competition. Industrialisation was still relatively new, and any monopolies that had emerged, such as the British and Dutch East India companies, had been created by governments.
The robber-baron companies of the late 19th century were accused of using their industrial muscle to drive competitors out of business. Private monopolies, the argument ran, diminished the benefits of capitalism; by definition, the existence of a monopoly made it impossible for a free market to operate.

Since then, governments have generally had some kind of competition policy, though not necessarily a coherent one. Politicians …

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