Review of Industrial Organization 14: 295–302, 1999.
© 1999 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
1999 Presidential Address Industrial Organization Society
Commitment to Competition: An Assessment of
Antitrust Agency Budgets since 1970
JOHN E. KWOKA, JR.
Department of Economics, George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052, U.S.A.
Abstract. In these remarks to the Industrial Organization Society, I discuss the adequacy of antitrust
enforcement resources in the U.S. Relevant resources are measured by the competition budgets of the
Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. Since 1970 these have been inﬂuenced by
the overall economy, its changing structure, and politics, but they have not kept up with the pace of
mergers or other measures of the need for antitrust. Thus at present, the resources devoted to antitrust
fall well short of what is required for continued vigilance over our growing and changing economy.
Key words: Antitrust, competition policy, Antitrust Division, Federal Trade Commission
The new millennium will be a time for taking stock of many things. That stock-
taking should include evaluations of our public institutions – how well those insti-
tutions have served us, whether those institutions have been adequately supported,
what changes might be required for more effective action in the future. The institu-
tion that I would like to examine is antitrust enforcement, and speciﬁcally, whether
support for antitrust is and has been adequate to the tasks it confronts.
This is an appropriate juncture to assess antitrust for reasons other than the
calendar date. Rarely has antitrust been so important – or, at least, so visibly im-
portant – as at the present time. We are in the midst of an unprecedented merger
wave, one involving the largest corporations in this country and in some instances
reconstructing the very companies whose earlier breakups represented milestones
of antitrust. Boeing–McDonnell Douglas, Chrysler–Daimler, Bell Atlantic–Nynex,
and Exxon–Mobil come to mind. Conduct by other companies, including Mi-
crosoft, Visa, and Kodak, raise some of the most analytically challenging practices
that antitrust has confronted.
Gratitude is expressed to Yoshi Shimazaki for research assistance and to attendees of the Indus-
trial Organization Society reception at the ASSA meetings in New York for many helpful comments
on a preliminary version of these remarks.