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The Supreme Court decision in Standard Oil Co v United States transformed the US antitrust system in the early twentieth century and continues to exert substantial influence over competition policy today. One of its principal lasting effects has been to enshrine the prosecution of the decisive big case as a crucial measure of the value of competition agencies. This article considers how acceptance of the big case norm has distorted the application of US competition law in the petroleum industry and warped perceptions about antitrust's capacity to solve deeper political and social problems concerning the production and consumption of energy.
William E Kovacic
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