William & Mary Law Review


In the late 1960s and through the 1970s, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) undertook an ambitious program of reforms. Among other measures, the agency expanded the focus of antitrust enforcement to address economic concentration, including the use of Section 5 of the FTC Act to restructure dominant firms and oligopolies. In many ways Michael Pertschuk, who chaired the agency from 1977 to 1981, became the symbol of the FTC’s efforts to stretch the boundaries of antitrust policy—to pursue a conception of “competition policy in its broadest sense.” Despite a number of valuable accomplishments, the FTC achieved relatively few litigation successes, and its efforts aroused political opposition that nearly crippled the institution. The experience of the FTC in the 1970s, and during the Pertschuk chairmanship in particular, offers insights into the implications of future efforts to use the FTC to carry out a sweeping redesign and expansion of U.S. competition policy.