The Wall Street Journal has a good editorial on the subject of an antitrust conspiracy theory involving some of the biggest telecom companies, which I have talked about here and here.
Markets can behave in unison — think of airline tickets or gas prices — without necessarily engaging in anticompetitive behavior. And that’s as it should be. If the threshold for bringing antitrust conspiracy suits is lowered to the point where, well, you need no direct evidence of an actual conspiracy, then the sky’s the limit for the plaintiffs bar. And as Justice Breyer’s comment makes clear, a lot more than the cost of phone service would be at stake.
The Journal also observes — correctly, I believe — that a conspiracy cannot be inferred in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly because local phone competition wasn’t an enticing business opportunity for reasons having nothing to do with precluding competition.
There’s no money in residential service, and the profit from business customers is relatively small.