• Controversial
  • Innovative
  • Eye Opening


The rise in mergers and acquisitions since the 1990s has brought consolidation to a wide variety of industries and companies in the United States. But evidence suggests that the trend has had negative impacts: concentrating profits among fewer firms, raising prices for consumers and throwing roadblocks in front of smaller, more innovative competitors. This important essay by policy experts William A. Galston and Clara Hendrickson suggests several paths toward boosting antitrust practices. getAbstract recommends its cogent analysis to those concerned about how the drift toward consolidation affects future US economic growth.


Despite some government antitrust intervention, mergers and acquisitions have created monolithic companies that account for a growing share of the US economic pie. In the mid-1950s, the 60 largest companies made up less than 20% of GDP. Today, just the 20 biggest firms produce more than 20% of GDP. Since the 1990s, competition has dwindled among the more than three-quarters of US industries that have become more concentrated. One reason for such concentration is that regulators have focused narrowly on the biggest deals, while allowing those that lie at the...

About the Authors

William A. Galston is a senior fellow and Clara Hendrickson is a research intern at the Brookings Institution.

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