Mission and History
The American Antitrust Institute (AAI) is an independent, nonprofit organization devoted to promoting competition that protects consumers, businesses, and society. We serve the public through research, education, and advocacy on the benefits of competition and the use of antitrust enforcement as a vital component of national and international competition policy.
The American Antitrust Institute is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization (Tax ID #52-2093834). All donations are tax deductible. Learn how you can support AAI.
AAI was founded in 1998. It was the first public interest research, education, and advocacy organization to provide a counterpoint to conservative influence in antitrust enforcement and competition policy. AAI’s initial directors were Albert Foer, Robert Lande, and Jonathan Cuneo. Foer served as President until his retirement in 2014, and was succeeded by then Vice President Diana Moss. The growth and progress of AAI has been made possible by the dedicated and long-term work of staff with expertise in law, economics, policy, institutions, and communications.
Since its inception, AAI has created and shaped the modern “progressive antitrust” movement, with a focus on preserving a competitive economy through vigorous public and private enforcement of the antitrust laws. Protecting markets, competition, innovation, consumers, and workers is fundamental to ensuring economic and entrepreneurial freedom and the underlying democratic values embedded in our market system.
U.S. antitrust enforcement in the 1960s and 1970s embraced the importance of protecting vulnerable market participants and entrants through vigorous enforcement. By the 1980s, however, antitrust had almost reversed course. Advocacy by the conservative law and economics movement steered antitrust policy in a non-interventionist direction marked by lax merger control and forbearance from policing monopolistic and other anticompetitive practices.
The conservative movement has been, and continues to be, rooted in excessive deference to unsubstantiated efficiencies and pro-business justifications for mergers and abusive conduct. It has arguably resulted in increases in concentration at economy-wide, industry, and market levels and the growth of dominant firms with significant seller and buyer market power. Today, a burgeoning body of economic and policy work has linked these trends to a general decline in competition, likely due in no small part to the lax enforcement policies that have held sway for the past four decades.
AAI seeks to return balance to antitrust enforcement and competition policy through new ways of thinking that keep antitrust relevant in the face of increased and more sophisticated strategic behavior, technological change, and globalization. AAI applauds pro-enforcement efforts of the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, the State attorneys’ general, and “private attorneys’ general.” Still, resources devoted to public antitrust enforcement are well below their level of 30 years ago and attacks on private antitrust enforcement continue to mount. AAI meets these challenges by educating the public and media on the importance of reinvigorated antitrust enforcement and working collaboratively with enforcement agencies, sector regulators, Congress, academia, industry, and other advocacy groups.
AAI continues to be part of the bipartisan tradition that has supported the antitrust enterprise for over 125 years. AAI works across a network of the legal, economic, business, policy, and academic communities to develop positions that reflect clear-headed, informed, multidisciplinary, and progressive thinking about antitrust and competition policy. It benefits from the counsel of a diverse Advisory Board composed of highly regarded experts and a network of friends and supporters. For a more detail on the history of the AAI, see How AAI Became an Institution.