ECONOMIC REGULATION AND THE PUBLIC INTEREST: The Federal Trade Commission in Theory and Practice by Alan Stone

ECONOMIC REGULATION AND THE PUBLIC INTEREST: The Federal Trade Commission in Theory and Practice

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A low-keyed, well-organized assessment of the FTC which concludes that, by itself, the agency cannot curb unfair monopolies and trade practices, but its rulings and informal ""jawboning"" with business have had some positive effect. Stone, who was a trial lawyer for the FTC for eight years, rejects the thesis of a Nader Report that personnel are to blame for the agency's deficiencies, and adds that consumer-interest groups have not yet significantly entered the sphere of FTC adjudication. The book is far from uncritical, however: while Stone does not see the FTC as the diabolical creation of the ""trusts"" to escape or shape regulation, he concedes plausibility to this Gabriel Kolko thesis, and describes how, within its narrow purview, the FTC has managed to inhibit as much free trade as it promotes. Case upon case is cited of small companies trying to become competitive and being hit by FTC restraint: FTC enforcement of the Robinson-Patman Act designed to help ""mom and pop"" stores further crushed innovation in the market, preserving ""stabilty"" at the price of competition. At the same time, measures against giant corporations seem to have had small, if not negative, effects on the public. Reforming the FTC itself is no solution, Stone reiterates, suggesting that in some cases nationalization of enterprises may be more to the point. By comparison with Louis Kohlmeier's muckraking volume The Regulators (1965), this is a subdued and somewhat technical overview, but its sincerity and lucidity make a distinct contribution.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Cornell Univ. Press