Review of Industrial Organization 16: 131–149, 2000.
© 2000 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Present at the Beginning of a New Era for Antitrust:
Reﬂections on 1982–1983
LAWRENCE J. WHITE
Stern School of Business, New York University, 44 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012-1126,
Abstract. The early 1980s were an important time of transition for antitrust policy for the Antitrust
Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. I had the privilege to be selected to serve as the ﬁrst “Chief
Economist” for the newly installed Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust, William F. Baxter. In
this essay I discuss some of the important achievements of that period, as well as some missed
Key words: Antitrust, mergers, monopolization, price-ﬁxing.
The early 1980s were an important time of transition for antitrust policy for the
Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). With a new presiden-
tial administration came a new Assistant Attorney General (AAG) for Antitrust,
William F. Baxter. I had the privilege of being selected by Baxter to serve as his
ﬁrst “Chief Economist” in the capacity of the Director of the Economic Policy
Ofﬁce (EPO) of the Division from mid January 1982 through the end of August
The changes in antitrust policy and enforcement were neither as sharp as some
critics alleged (and as some enthusiasts proclaimed) nor as mild as some “gradual-
ists” might argue. Nevertheless, there were important initiatives and changes that
occurred during that period, as well as some missed opportunities. In the remainder
of this essay I will ﬁrst discuss some of the major achievements of that period,
almost all of which involved active participation by the economists of the EPO,
and then discuss some of the disappointments and missed opportunities.
An earlier draft of this paper was presented at the 25th Anniversary Seminar of the Economic
Policy Ofﬁce/Economic Analysis Group of the Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, on
November 6, 1998. Thanks are due to Christopher Anderson, Timothy Brennan, Dale Collins,
William Comanor, Curtis Jernigan, Russell Pittman, Constance Robinson, Elliott Seiden, Bruce
Snapp, and Gregory Werden for helpful comments on an earlier draft. In memorium: William Baxter
died three weeks after that seminar, on November 28, 1998.