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Competition, Monopoly, and Antitrust: The Austrian Perspective

Econ260 — with Thomas J. DiLorenzo

Dates: March 15, 2011 - April 12, 2011
Status: Closed

A five-week Mises Academy online course by Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo, Professor of Economics, Loyola University Maryland, and senior faculty member, Mises Institute.  March 15 – April 12.  For additional information about this course, read Professor DiLorenzo’s article, Alan Greenspan Was Right! (About Antitrust, Anyway).

When the first federal antitrust law, the Sherman Antitrust Act, was passed in 1890 the economics profession was almost unanimously opposed to it.  At the time, economists viewed competition as the Austrian School does – as a dynamic, evolutionary, process of entrepreneurship and discovery.  Consequently, the new antitrust law was judged to be inherently incompatible with competition.   This all changed with the adoption of the theory “perfect” competition that has dominated economics since the early 20th century.  As the ultimate straw-man argument, the new theory led to nearly a century of condemnations of capitalism as “imperfect” along with recommendations for (presumably perfect) regulation and central planning of markets.  The theory of perfect competition became the ideological cornerstone of economic interventionism as generations of college students were taught that only a few industries, like cotton and natural gas, were perfectly competitive; all others were imperfect and therefore in need of regulation and central planning.

This five-week online course will explain why the Austrian theory of competition (and of monopoly) has always been intellectually superior to the “mainstream” theory; how antitrust regulation, invoked in the name of pursuing “perfect” markets, has been horribly destructive of competition; the myth of “natural” or free market monopoly; and myriad other interventionists myths and superstitions regarding such business practices as mergers, corporate takeovers, “predatory” pricing, and more.  The following is the reading list for the course.  All readings are free and online.

Week 1: Hayekian vs. Neoclassical Theories of Competition

F.A. Hayek, “The Meaning of Competition,”  in his book, Individualism and Economic Order.

F.A. Hayek, “Competition as a Discovery Procedure”

Week 2: Rothbard and Kirzner on Monopoly and Competition

Murray N. Rothbard, “Monopoly and Competition,” Chapter 10 of Man, Economy and State

Israel Kirzner, “Entrepreneurship and the Market Approach to Development”

Week 3:  How Antitrust Regulation Destroys Competition

Dominick Armentano, Antitrust: The Case for Repeal (Chapters 1-3).

Thomas DiLorenzo, “The Origins of Antitrust: An Interest-Group Perspective,” International Review of Law and Economics, December 1984

John Steele Gordon, “Read Your History Janet”

Week 4:  Natural vs. Unnatural Monopolies

Thomas DiLorenzo, “The Myth of Natural Monopoly”

Thomas DiLorenzo, “The Gates-Rockefeller Myth”

Dan Seligman, “Ten Evil Monopolies”

Week 5:  Mergers, Takeovers, Predatory Pricing, and other Free-Market Monopoly Myths

Dominick Armentano, Antitrust: The Case for Repeal, Chapters 4-6

Thomas DiLorenzo, “The Myth of Predatory Pricing”

Live Sessions:

The lectures are broadcast live over the internet, and students will receive a special access code to join the sessions. Students will be able to ask the professor questions via internet forum posts, and the professor will respond via video. The weekly live video-broadcast lectures will be Tuesday evenings, at 7:30 pm EST: about 45 minutes of lecture, and 45 minutes of question-and-answer. Live attendance is not required; recordings of all live sessions will be made available to students.

What is it like to take an online class from the Mises Academy?

Just ask student Lee Sutterfield:

This is the most useful and well presented educational experience I’ve had in my 59 years. I will be enrolled in at least one or two courses for the rest of my life if possible. Keep the courses coming! I plan to complete the equivalent of a Master’s Degree in Austrian Economics if the Academy is able to offer enough material. I hope accreditation is planned but if not, so be it. The material is fundamental and answers many questions I’ve wrestled with for years. Thanks to all of you who have worked so hard over the years to make this happen!!!”

Final Grade and Certificate of Completion:

The final grade will depend on quizzes.  The Mises Academy is currently not accredited, but this course is worth 3 credits in our own internal system.  Feel free to ask your school to accept Mises Academy credits.  You will receive a digital Certificate of Completion for this course if you take it for a grade, and a Certificate of Participation if you take it on a paid-audit basis.

Refund Policy

If you drop the course during its first week (7 calendar days), you will receive a full refund, minus a $25 processing fee.
If you drop the course during its second week, you will receive a half refund.
No refunds will be granted following the second week.

Computer Requirements

Video Lecture Sessions

Operating System
Mac OS X 10.4 or higher
Windows XP SP2 or higher
Linux

Connection
Broadband 2Mb+

Browser
Safari 2, Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 3.0 or higher

Course Readings, Discussions and Assignments

Operating System
Windows 98 or higher
Mac OS 10.1 or higher
Linux

Connection
56k V.90 modem or higher

Browser
Firefox 3.0 or higher is recommended for both Mac and PC.
Free download: http://www.mozilla.com/firefox
Opera and Safari will not show built-in html editor in Moodle.
Internet Explorer can potentially cause errors.

Thomas DiLorenzo

Thomas J. DiLorenzo

Author of The Real LincolnLincoln Unmasked, and Hamilton’s Curse. Dr. DiLorenzo is today’s foremost critic of “Lincoln hagiography”.

DiLorenzo is a professor of economics at Loyola University Maryland and a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, he has written for the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Washington Post, Reader’s Digest, Barron’s, and many other publications.  He is widely published in the academic journals, including the American Economic Review, Economic Inquiry, International Review of Law and Economics, Public Choice, Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, and many others. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Virginia Tech.

Click here to read an interview with Professor DiLorenzo.

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