Characters in the Food Court

Mall History Spectacular

Narrator: Welcome to our very own Mall History Month Slideshow Spectacular. Competition among businesses is a vital part of how our mall functions—important to our customers and to the American story. In this segment of our series, take a trip with us to yesteryear as we take a closer look at the very foundation upon which the modern American system of competition and free markets were laid.

Before the Acts

Newspaper headline: Trusts Control Economy!

Long before the hustle and bustle of competing businesses in our little mall, there was a time when this kind of healthy competition hardly existed! Way back in the 1800s, there were several giant businesses known as "trusts." They controlled whole sections of the economy, like railroads, oil, steel, and sugar. These trusts were monopolies, meaning they combined all the competition into one massive company that could dictate their price! With no competition, people had no choice concerning from whom to buy. Prices went through the roof, and quality… well, it wasn't a priority! This caused hardship and threatened the new American prosperity.

Teddy Roosevelt

The Government Starts Busting Trusts

The trust-owning businessmen got richer and richer, while the public got angry and demanded the government take action. President Theodore Roosevelt "busted," or broke up, many trusts by enforcing the first of what came to be known as "antitrust" laws. The goal of this law, and the ones that came later, was to protect consumers by promoting competition in the marketplace.

The Sherman Act

The Sherman Act

The first of the antitrust laws was passed in 1890: The Sherman Antitrust Act. This Act makes it illegal for competitors to make agreements with each other that would limit competition. So, for example, they can't agree on a price—that'd be price fixing. The Act also makes it illegal for a business to be a monopoly if that company is cheating or not competing fairly. Corporate executives found doing those kinds of things could wind up paying huge fines—and even go to jail!

The Clayton Act

With the Sherman Act in place, and trusts being busted up, business practices in America were getting better. However, some companies started to merge—competitors united into a single company, instead of forming trusts—as a way to control prices and production. In 1914, the Clayton Act was put in to place to stop them. The Clayton Act protects American consumers even more, and by preventing mergers or acquisitions that are likely to stifle competition.

The FTC Act

Congress decided that a special agency was needed to watch for unfair business practices. In 1914, the FTC Act was passed, and the Federal Trade Commission was born. The FTC was given the power to investigate and stop unfair methods of competition and deceptive practices. Nearly one hundred years later, the FTC still enforces antitrust laws, as does the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.

Our mall today

And that brings us back to present day in our busy mall. Thanks to the antitrust laws, and the people who took a stand for fair business, healthy competition is thriving! What better place to witness this than right here at the mall?

Thanks for visiting us today, and we hope you enjoy your time here.