For my write-up today on volume 2 of Richard Nixon's memoirs, I'll highlight something that Nixon says on page 53:
I saw it, the Justice Department suits [against the International
Telephone and Telegraph Corporation] were a clear violation of my
anti-trust policy. I was convinced that American companies would be
able to compete in the international market only if they were as big and
strong as the government-sheltered monopolies in so many foreign
countries, and therefore I had instructed that big businesses were to be
broken up only when they violated the laws of fair competition and not
simply because they were big."
The context of this quotation is
Nixon's discussion of the charge that President Nixon pressured the
Justice Department to settle with the ITT in exchange for the ITT
contributing to the 1972 Republican National Convention. Nixon responds
to this charge in a variety of ways, such as by noting that the
settlement was more favorable to the government than it was to the ITT.
Nixon also lambastes Democratic hypocrisy. For example, while Senator
Ted Kennedy grandstanded during the ITT hearings, Kennedy pressured
William Casey of the Securities and Exchange Commission not to name as a
defendant in a civil suit an investment banking firm that one of
Kennedy's friends headed. (So testified Casey, Nixon narrates.)
what interested me was Nixon's articulation of his stance on anti-trust
policy. Nixon thought that a number of companies in the U.S. needed to
be big in order to compete with companies overseas, some of which were
themselves big and were sheltered by their governments. I can somewhat
see Nixon's point, for, when a company is big and consolidated, it can
arguably produce more. But do not monopolies result in higher prices,
and perhaps even less efficiency, due to the absence of competition?
Perhaps, but it's not as if the big companies in the U.S. were not
competing; according to Nixon, they were competing with overseas
companies. I wonder to what extent that is true today, when there are
multinational corporations (not that I know what the extent of their
existence was during Nixon's Presidency).