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Deja vu all over again?

       In 1946, the Supreme Court, in a ruling hailed by some as
  proclaiming a "new" Sherman Act, used the doctrine of "conscious
  parallelism" to find that the then Big Three cigarette companies
  had violated antitrust law.  Though there was no direct evidence
  of conspiracy to fix prices, the Court found the use of price
  leadership to drive low-cost brands from the market persuasive. 
  The leader, Reynolds, had lowered its price; American and Liggett
  & Myers had followed.  Smaller firms lost most of their market,
  and Reynolds, again immediately followed by the other two, then
  put the price back up.
       Today's newspaper reports the second cigarette price
  increase of the year, announced by Phillip Morris and matched by
  Reynolds and Brown & Williamson.  This increase follows, and
  accelerates, the industry price hikes that have occurred since
  the major firms slashed prices in 1993, a measure taken to limit
  the market inroads then being made by cheaper discount brands.
       The similarities here seem evident enough.  But we would, I
  think, be quite surprised were the Antitrust Division to question
  the price behavior of the 1990's.  
       What accounts for the change?