What Do The Trustbusters Want?

It would be nice if you could just watch your "Herfindahls." In simpler times, companies wishing to merge had to do well on something called the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index, which the Justice Dept. used to measure market concentration. Score above 1,800 and the merger was doomed. Below 1,000, it was legal. Say what you will about relying on such an index, it had the virtue of clarity and predictability. Justice's latest antitrust decisions do not. The largest M&A wave this century may require a more active, vigilant government referee to ensure open markets and competition. But it is incumbent on Washington trustbusters to explicitly state their standards and measurements. This they have not yet done.

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