Rev Ind Organ (2013) 43:1
A Note from the General Editor About This Special
Lawrence J. White
Published online: 20 July 2013
© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013
The enactment of the Interstate Commerce Act (ICA) in 1887 was a landmark in the
annals of the American system of the regulation of business. It was one of the ﬁrst
major pieces of legislation that regulated industry in the US;
and the ICA’s creation
of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) provided the template for subsequent
economic regulatory efforts (e.g., vis-à-vis other surface transportation, the airlines,
and over-the-air broadcasting) and regulatory organizational structures [e.g., the Civil
Aeronautics Board (CAB), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)] for many decades.
Even though the economic deregulation efforts of the 1970s and 1980s (and the
continuing efforts in subsequent decades) have undone many of the speciﬁc efforts
and effects of the ICC, the spirit and philosophy that underlay the ICA and the ICC
have continued to wax and wane—and then wax and wane again—over the decades
in the US policy arena.
The year 2012 marked the 125th anniversary of the ICA and the ICC. This seemed to
be a ﬁtting time to have a special issue of the Review of Industrial Organization (RIO)
that would take a retrospective look at the ICA and the ICC and the long shadow
that they subsequently cast on railroads and surface transportation more generally.
Fortunately, Wesley W. Wilson agreed to “shepherd” this special issue; and the results
are to be found in the subsequent articles in this issue of the RIO. I am fully conﬁdent
that the readers of the RIO will ﬁnd the reading of these articles to be well worth the
National banks were created and regulated in the US starting in 1863, and there may well have been
other pre-1887 instances where US businesses were regulated by the federal government. Nevertheless,
the ICA stands out as a major such instance.
L. J. White (
Department of Economics, Stern School of Business, New York University,
44 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012, USA