Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The current interest in industrial concentration studies almost rivals that which gave rise to the Temporary National Economic Committee's voluminous output on the subject two decades ago. Indeed,by almost any standard, 1957 was a banner year. The Federal Trade Commission opened the season with its 656-page report in January. The National Industrial Conference Board devoted a session to the topic at its forty-first annual meeting in May. In July the Bureau of the Census published its study performed at the request of the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly. In June the Chamber of Commerce of the United States issued its first in a projected series of reports on the measurement of concentration; the second followed in July; others are still to come. Meanwhile, the output of economists in the professional journals has continued apace.

But the recent literature on concentration differs significantly from the earlier studies. Gardiner C. Means, who is often credited with having inaugurated the systematic study of concentration with his 1931 article, set the tune for much that was to follow: "within 'the corporate system' there exists a centripetal attraction which draws wealth together into aggregations of constantly increasing size . . .the trend is apparent, and no limit is yet in sight." The Federal Trade Commission was still echoing the same tune seventeen years later: "If nothing is done to check the growth in concentration either the giant corporations will ultimately take over the country, or the government will be impelled to step in .... "