The causal effect of antitrust enforcement
This project will construct a comprehensive database of antitrust enforcement actions brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission against firms and individuals between 1890 and 2017. The authors will link this database to industry-level economic outcomes and to restricted firm-level tax records from the IRS and the U.S. Census Bureau, including the Economic Census, the Longitudinal Business Database, and the Standard Statistical Establishment List in order to measure the effect of antitrust enforcement on economic output. Two identification strategies will be used to measure the effect of antitrust enforcement. The first strategy involves investigating the appointment of Thurman Arnold to lead the DOJ Antitrust Division in a difference-in-difference framework, relying on detailed information about each case Arnold brought against firms. The second will use the modern-day random assignment of federal appellate judges to antitrust lawsuits and a Lasso-based econometric framework to measure the effect of procompetitive and anticompetitive judges on firms and industries.