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The Petroleum Industry in Transition: Antitrust and the Decline of Monopoly Control in Oil

Joseph A. Pratt
The Journal of Economic History
Vol. 40, No. 4 (Dec., 1980), pp. 815-837
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2120003
Page Count: 23
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Petroleum Industry in Transition: Antitrust and the Decline of Monopoly Control in Oil
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Abstract

The discovery of vast oil fields in Texas after 1901 encouraged competition in an industry previously dominated by Standard Oil of New Jersey. The manner in which the state of Texas enforced its antitrust and corporation laws hastened the growth of several major new oil companies, most notably Gulf Oil and The Texas Company, by constraining the activities of Standard in the new fields. In so doing, these Texas laws shaped the transition from near monopoly to near oligopoly in the oil industry. Such beneficial results of state laws were, however, largely accidental, since weaknesses in the government's capacity to monitor changes in the burgeoning industry undermined its ability to define and implement systematic regulatory policies. Problems of adjustment that accompanied government's early efforts to regulate market structure in oil have continued to hamper subsequent efforts to regulate other aspects of the industry's operations.

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