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11 Corporate management’s self-interest has combined with the legitimating effects of laissez-faire economics to condone industry consolidation. Executives often brag that mergers and acquisitions will unlock “synergies” and thus provide not only increased profits, but also greater value to consumers. The unfortunate reality is that such deals are con- Where Is Society Left? 27 summated because of what managers believe will benefit them—even shareholder interests are frequently secondary. Walter Adams and James Brock’s analysis of historical facts is sobering: Mergers, takeovers, and leveraged buyouts erupted in number, from some 1,500 in 1980 to more than 4,400 by 1986.

The goal of this chapter is to engage in a critique that challenges these deeply held notions of how economics should inform law. 1 UNRAVELING THE CHICAGO SCHOOL The Chicago school’s influential ideas are based on four seductive assertions: that efficiency is a deity, that transaction costs are trivial, that behavioral biases are unimportant, and that initial entitlements do not matter. Unfortunately, none of these assumptions withstands critical inquiry. 1. Worshipping efficiency Simply put, the Chicago school worships at the altar of efficiency.

Day-trading, so popular during the stock market boom of the 1990s, serves as a particularly telling symbol of how ordinary Americans, left to fare on their own without government protection against sophisticated market players, can be wiped out. One article in the New Yorker remarks, Like most amateur golfers, the vast majority of day traders did poorly. When the Massachusetts authorities investigated a day-trading firm in the state, they found that sixty-seven out of sixty-eight customers had lost money.

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