Chapter 7: Market Structures
"Department of Justice - Antitrust Enforcement"
Today, government has the power to encourage competition and
to regulate certain monopolies that exist for the public welfare.
In some cases, government has taken over certain economic
activities and runs them as government-owned monopolies. The
United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division works
to promote and protect fair business practices through the
enforcement of antitrust laws. In this activity, students
will learn more about the Antitrust Division.
Students will use information from the Department of Justice's
Antitrust Division Web site to find out more about the division
and some of the cases they are currently pursuing.
Students should be familiar with the following terms:
monopoly: market structure characterized by a single
producer; form of imperfect competition
trust: illegal combination of corporations or companies
organized to hinder competition
Content Standards (from the National Council on Economic Education)
Standard 9: Competition among sellers lowers costs
and prices, and encourages producers to produce more of what
consumers are willing and able to buy. Competition among buyers
increases prices and allocates goods and services to those
people who are willing and able to pay the most for them.
Standard 16: There is an economic role for the government
to play in a market economy whenever the benefits of a government
policy outweigh its costs. Governments often provide for national
defense, address environmental concerns, define and protect
property rights, and attempt to make markets more competitive.
Most government policies also redistribute income.
1. Students will list the mission and role of the Antitrust
2. Students will describe the importance of competition in
3. Students will describe the kinds of cases the Justice Department
4. Students will list ways that someone could determine if
the antitrust laws are being violated.
Web Activity Answers
1. The Antitrust Division works to promote and protect competition
in the marketplace through enforcement of the antitrust laws.
The Division accomplishes its goals through filing criminal
and civil lawsuits that aim to eliminate anti-competitive
2. Answers will vary. Students should express the idea that
competition in a free market benefits American consumers through
lower prices, better quality, and greater choice. Competition
also provides businesses the opportunity to compete unhampered
by anti-competitive restraints.
3. Student answers will vary.
4. Answers will vary, but possible responses include: evidence
that two sellers of similar goods or services have agreed
to price and sell their products in a certain manner; fewer
competitors than normal submit bids on projects; bidders win
bids on a fixed rotation; the same company repeatedly has
been the low bidder who has been awarded contracts for a certain
service or in a particular area; etc.
Provide students with sample antitrust cases. Have students
determine the actions they would take if they were a member
of the Antitrust Division. (Current court cases and documents
can be found on the Web site.)
Invite a local antitrust expert to speak with the class about
the impact of unfair business practices on the marketplace.
Student Web Activity