The virtue of an imperfect competition law

Imperfect competition is not necessarily a curse. It evokes an environment in which firms compete on multiple dimensions to satisfy heterogeneous consumer preferences. This can create a tension between conflicting social objectives. Inevitably, we must decide which of these objectives should guide competition law. In making this decision, we must accept that it is impossible to reconcile these objectives or to classify them in an order that applies to all, at all times. Thus, the choice of which objective to pursue is a moral choice. However, we can still give competition law a specific objective, since other policies may pursue other objectives. The objective of competition law should be chosen by considering the main features of competition law rules. These rules are stable, technical and their violation carries severe penalties.
These themes are discussed in this article published by Competition Policy International in the October 2021 issue of the Antitrust Chronicle. The article concludes that the value that best fits these characteristics is a narrow notion of total welfare.