Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Nicola Giocoli, University of Pisa asks Free from What? Competition, Regulation and Antitrust During the Gilded Age.
ABSTRACT: As the embodiment of classical competition, freedom of contract was still a fundamental notion for the American economists of the Gilded Age. For this reason, it played a key role in the controversies about competition and regulation that agitated the US legal and political landscape between 1880 and 1910, following the dramatic rise in industrial size and concentration. The essay argues that when debating about the good and the bad of a free market system vis-à-vis government interference, American jurists and politicians were actually referring to the freedom of contract ideal developed by the Classics and still endorsed by most economists of the time.