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    The climate in which the first antitrust laws arose was, in some ways, similar to our current economic environment. It was a period of rapid and profound technological change as railroads, telegraph and the telephone connected the US in ways as remarkable and profound at that time as the internet is today.

    By lowering communication time and transportation costs these changes made it possible for some types of firms to consider the entire U.S. as a potential market. Some firms focused their energies on gaining complete control of certain markets. One way in which this was done was through the formation of trusts in which the stockholders of firms in a common industry would give over control of their stock to a group of trustees who could then operate the industry as if it were a monopoly, hence the term antitrust for this body of law.

    These trusts were accused of predatory pricing (lowering prices just long enough to drive competitors out of business), coercing small firms to sell out, price fixing where monopoly did exist and a variety of other behaviors which were not explicitly illegal at that time.

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