I approach many narratives with skepticism, and the Antitrust narrative is one of those. When looking at Antitrust cases, I've noticed that the glorious narrative of noble "Trust Busters" courageously fighting uber-powerful, evil corporations for the benefit of the consumer doesn't hold up very well and is quite dependent on spin. In other words, the facts don't speak for themselves. The following is one example (from ANTITRUST: THE CASE FOR REPEAL by Dominick T.. Armentano):
The conventional account of the Standard Oil case goes something like this. The Standard Oil Company employed ruthless business practices to monopolize the petroleum industry in the nineteenth century. After achieving its monopoly, Standard reduced market output and raised the market price of kerosene, the industry's major product. The federal government indicted Standard under the Sherman Act at the very pinnacle of its monopolistic power, proved in court that it had acted unreasonably toward consumers and competitors, and obtained a divestiture of the company that helped to restore competition in the petroleum industry.
This account has almost nothing in common with the actual facts. It is not possible to review the entire history of the case here, but a summary of the government findings against and actual conduct of Standard Oil will serve to make the point.
The Standard Oil Company was a major force in the development of the petroleum industry in the nineteenth century. It grew from being a small Ohio corporation in 1870, with perhaps a 4-percent market share, to become a giant, multidivisional conglomerate company by 1890, when it enjoyed as much as 85 percent of the domestic petroleum refining market. This growth was the result of shrewd bargaining for crude oil, intelligent investments in research and development, rebates from railroads, strict financial accounting, vertical and horizontal integration to realize specific efficiencies, investments in tank cars and pipelines to more effectively control the transportation of crude oil and refined product, and a host of other managerial innovations. Internally-generated efficiency allowed the company to purchase other businesses and manage additional assets with the same commitment to efficiency and even to expand its corporate operations abroad.
Standard Oil's efficiency made the company extremely successful: it kept its costs low and was able to sell more and more of its refined product, usually at a lower and lower price, in the open marketplace. Prices for kerosene fell from 30 cents a gallon in 1869 to 9 cents in 1880, 7.4 cents in 1890, and 5.9 cents in 1897. Most important, this feat was accomplished in a market open to competitors, the number and organizational size of which increased greatly after 1890. Indeed, the competitors grew so quickly in the years preceding the federal antitrust case that Standard's market share in petroleum refining declined from roughly 85 percent in 1890 to 64 percent in 1911. In 1911, at least 147 refining companies were competing with Standard, including such large firms as Gulf, Texaco, Union, Pure, Associated Oil and Gas, and Shell.So, before and during the period when Antitrust action was brought against Standard Oil, prices were plummeting and Standard Oil's market share dropped significantly. Harm to the consumer was nowhere to be seen and, in fact, consumers benefited hugely from the price drop.
There are quite a number of other Antitrust cases like this that follow this "Anti" narrative. The common wisdom is often just a particularly spin and narrative which don't reflect the facts particularly well.