Killing Mergers Hurts America’s Global Competitiveness
Two years after setting out to “promote competition in the U.S. economy” with a “whole of government” policy agenda that hinges on aggressive antitrust enforcement, Rob Atkinson writes in the Wall Street Journal that the Biden administration has unquestionably succeeded at one thing: casting a pall over corporate mergers and acquisitions.
Rejecting previously established guidelines for reviewing mergers, the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission have stepped in to block many proposed deals based on new theories of potential harm and have scored a string of victories. The chip supplier Nvidia publicly abandoned a $40 billion offer to acquire U.K. chip designer Arm after the FTC sued to stop it. Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter celebrated six such public abandonments in remarks at a recent conference. He added that “there have been many more nonpublic abandonments.”
Mr. Kanter noted that “on the merger front, there is no success greater for us than deterrence.” But the more pressing question is whether the government’s aggressive opposition to mergers has made the U.S. more competitive in the global economy. The answer is no.