Chicago School antitrust policy rests on the premise that the purpose of the antitrust laws is to promote economic efficiency. That foundation is flawed. The fundamental goal of antitrust law is to protect consumers.
This essay defines the relevant economic concepts, summarizes the legislative histories, and analyzes recent case law. All these factors indicate that the ultimate goal of antitrust is not to increase the total wealth of society, but to protect consumers from behavior that deprives them of the benefits of competition and transfers their wealth to firms with market power. When conduct presents a conflict between the welfare of consumers and total welfare (e.g., a merger that raises prices but reduces costs), no court in recent years has chosen economic efficiency over consumer protection. For a more extensive discussion of these issues, see The Fundamental Goal of Antitrust: Protecting Consumers, Not Increasing Efficiency, 84 Notre Dame L. Rev. 191 (2008), http://scholarworks.law.ubalt.edu/all_fac/368/
The Chicago School's Foundation is Flawed: Antitrust Protects Consumers, Not Efficiency, in How the Chicago School Overshot the Mark: The Effect of Conservative Economic Analysis on U.S. Antitrust (Oxford University Press, Robert Pitfosky, Editor, 2008)