The changing face of anti-trust in the world of Big Tech: Collusion versus monopolisation

Prishnee Armoogum, Stephen Davies, Franco Mariuzzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents new evidence on two key developments in worldwide anti-trust in the last decade: (i) a downturn in the number of cartels detected by competition authorities and (ii) exponential growth in cases of monopolisation/abuse of dominance. Big Tech firms have been, undoubtedly, the main focus of the latter but almost totally absent in the former. These two developments offer perspectives on the description of Monopoly Capitalism as set out by Keith Cowling 40 years ago. Superficially at least, this seems to deny the prediction of ever-widening collusion, but, on the other hand, it resonates with the prediction of increasingly unassailable dominant firms. We suggest that the two trends can best be understood by the emergence of the Big Tech giants who have established dominance by exceeding tipping points in many markets. In turn, this leads to an alternative form of collusion—‘mutual forbearance’ in which firms back away from aggressive competition in the other giants’ areas of strength. Given this dominance, they do not need collusion—put simply, no sizeable rivals are remaining with whom they need to collude.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1455–1479
Number of pages25
JournalCambridge Journal of Economics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • algorithms
  • cartels
  • deterrence
  • enforcement
  • monopolisation

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