Big Business vs. Big Government

Big Business vs. Big Government

What in the world is going on with mergers and acquisition in 2016?

If you feel like mergers are getting bigger, more complicated and more audacious than ever, your instincts are good: They are. At the same time, the federal government is stepping up oversight and enforcement – and taking longer than ever to do so.

Using data from the Federal Trade Commission and The Deal, a subsidiary of, TheStreet has discovered a pattern of increased regulatory actions challenging mergers that dates back to the Reagan administration. Under President Obama, the FTC, DOJ and other regulatory bodies have challenged and blocked a higher proportion of U.S. deals than ever before. At the same time, deals are getting bigger and more complicated. Call it "Big Business vs. Big Government."

Business leaders, activist fund managers and investors say they are trying to unlock value, find efficiencies and create wealth. Regulators and law enforcement say they are protecting consumers and other businesses from harm. Which is it? It could be both.

In a series of stories, TheStreet explores this issue, including the effect on gargantuan mergers like Bayer's proposed $62 billion takeover of Monsanto, which TheStreet's Jim Cramer believes will be blocked. Billions of dollars in transaction value and market capitalization are at stake. The biggest names in the market hang in the balance.