FTC and DOJ’s Finalized Merger Guidelines Return the Original Intent of the Antitrust Laws

December 18, 2023 Press Release

Washington, D.C. — The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice Antitrust Division today released the final, updated merger guidelines in order to modernize interpretation of our antitrust laws to reflect new market realities. In response, the American Economic Liberties Project released the following statement:

“The finalized merger guidelines are a game-changer for antitrust enforcement, incorporating decades of new learnings and thousands of public comments from working families and small businesses,” said Erik Peinert, Research Manager and Editor at the American Economic Liberties Project. “After almost 50 years of significant underenforcement, we’re thrilled to see the antitrust agencies make a comprehensive update to the merger guidelines, and look forward to seeing them vigorously enforced. The new guidelines provide a roadmap to bring first principles of the antitrust laws into the 21st Century. Previous guidelines ignored or underappreciated the harms from practices like vertical mergers and serial acquisitions, as well as the harms to workers. A generation of these deals has suppressed worker pay, increased prices, and embrittled our supply chains.”

The merger guidelines lay out the antitrust agencies’ approach and policy towards proposed mergers to reflect their interpretation of the law, indicate which mergers they see as lawful or illegal, and thereby help businesses plan with a predictable regulatory environment. Courts often cite the agencies’ merger guidelines as persuasive authorities on what antitrust law says and what sorts of mergers are illegal.

By creating new merger guidelines to replace both the outdated 2010 guidelines and the already-withdrawn 2020 vertical guidelines, the FTC and DOJ are building on their efforts to restore the agencies’ ability to combat one of the main drivers of corporate consolidation: mergers & acquisitions.

Read Economic Liberties’ comment letters in support of the guidelines here

Learn more about the updated guidelines in Peinert’s ProMarket piece.

Learn more about Economic Liberties here.


The American Economic Liberties Project works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. Economic Liberties believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.