Review of Industrial Organization 19: 3–18, 2001.
© 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Markets, Morals, or Wealth? Delusions of a
Standardized Antitrust Value
WILLIAM J. CURRAN III
Editor-in-Chief, Antitrust Bulletin
Abstract. Since the 1980s, courts have chosen corporate wealth generation as antitrust’s sole value,
justifying their choice under “Chicago School” economics, while abandoning counter-values like
justice and democracy. The difﬁcult consequences of “Chicago’s” univocal corporate wealth gen-
erating “value” are explored in this article, while a broader, multi-valued, antitrust alternative is
discussed and proposed.
Key words: Antitrust, “Chicago School”, democracy, economic justiﬁcations, liberal justice.
Questions about values – and their standardization – have plagued courts over anti-
trust history. That values are not univocal, and that a standardized antitrust policy is
a delusion, confuses courts – neither Chicago School economics nor liberal justice
can alone compensate for the many values that courts may face.
Without this insight, courts have become wedded to false notions about such
single values as wealth pursued in society’s best interest, or about the sole protec-
tion of such other “values” as competition and markets. Unfortunately, antitrust
has become a tool of a single, narrow, neo-classical, Chicago style freemarket
economic value – a tool of “let-it-rip” free-market capitalism itself.
The supposed revolutionary “progress” of antitrust since the early 1980s has
squeezed its content and distilled its goals to suit the anemic values of Chicago
economic theoreticians. They foster only the narrow goal of static allocational
efﬁciency, in a single-minded pursuit of maximum wealth while “maximizing con-
This worship of wealth will likely harm our society – since, as
Galbralth has said of every age, the ruling system demands to be worshipped as the
ruling theology and as the divinely inspired authority.
Member of Pennsylvania, New York, and Nebraska bars.
See John E. Kwoka, and Lawrence J. White, eds. (1999) The Antitrust Revolution: Econom-
ics, Competition and Policy, 3rd edn. New York: Oxford University Press; Robert H. Bork (1978)
The Antitrust Paradox: A Policy at War with Itself. New York: Basic Books; Richard A Posner
Antitrust Policy; Richard Schmalensee, and Robert D. Willig, eds. (1989) Handbook of Industrial
Organization. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.