In This Review

Antitrust and the Formation of the Postwar World
Antitrust and the Formation of the Postwar World
By Wyatt Wells
Columbia University Press, 2002, 276 pp.

During the 1930s, Washington was generally hostile to cartels, whereas other governments took a more neutral or even promotional stance. This book analyzes those differences by looking at how the Franklin Roosevelt administration juggled between domestic antitrust action and building up U.S. armaments production during World War II -- all while proselytizing other nations against cartels. Allied victory gave a big boost to the American position by making the United States an occupying power in postwar Germany and Japan, where it tried to ban cartel arrangements. Although more successful in Germany than in Japan, initial antitrust efforts generally failed in both places -- largely because American leaders worried that they would hinder economic recovery. Antitrust policies were given a boost, however, when Jean Monnet embraced their provisions for the European Coal and Steel Community as a way to revive the German steel industry within an acceptable institutional framework. Since then, antitrust policy has taken strong hold in Europe, especially in the European Commission, which has become as vigorous as its American counterparts in combating business combines. The book unfortunately leaves that tale untold, however, by not carrying the story beyond the early 1950s.