The Obama Trials


09 November 2017

Competition policy in the early years of the Obama administration – a personal essay1 The enforcement of antitrust law does not, and should not, operate in a vacuum. In times of economic distress, the need for antitrust law to foster competitive markets is especially pronounced.2 The global financial crisis of 2007-2008 raised pressing concerns about the appropriate scope of modern antitrust regulation.3 Against this backdrop, antitrust enforcement in the Obama administration faced elevated expectations of regulatory action. During the 2008 presidential campaign, then Senator Obama pledged he would direct his administration “to reinvigorate antitrust enforcement”4 and promised “an Antitrust Division that is serious about pursuing cases.”5 One of the challenges for the incoming administration was to demonstrate a robust willingness to litigate antitrust cases, while at the same time ensuring that the law was consistently applied in a straightforward, even-handed and transparent manner.