A property rights approach to antitrust analysis
In this dissertation I analyze a series of historically important antitrust cases, and demonstrate why the prevailing explanations are either incomplete or incorrect. By conducting fact intensive investigations of changes in demand, production costs, and ownership costs, I identify changes in property rights that explain the (alleged) illegal behaviors.The first chapter presents many of the common property rights explanations of firm size, all of which relate ownership costs to production costs. My second chapter applies these ideas, very generally, to the changes in the US economy from the colonial period to the passage of the Sherman Antitrust Law. I argue that changes in shipping costs lead to the rise of both the modern corporation and antitrust laws.The third chapter examines, in further depth, alternative ownership arrangements in the provision of canals. The forth chapter dismisses the importance of predatory pricing in Standard Oil of New Jersey, and critiques the recent theory developed by Granitz and Klein. I propose an alternative explanation of Rockefeller's success, in which he exploits economies of scale in production by protecting quasirents from the railroads.In the fifth chapter I argue that the formation of US Steel was not an attempt to create a dominant firm in the steel industry, but instead was protection for newly created downstream monopolies from future entry. The last chapter analyzes United Shoe Machines and its use of leasing, and presents existing property rights arguments that leasing was the optimal contract.
- Economics