Business: Gary Dinners

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The interpretation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Law has caused many a false step that has subsequently been retraced. Recently the U. S. Supreme Court has held (in the Maple Flooring Manufacturers' Association case) that exchange of information regarding sales, costs, etc., among competitors does not necessarily constitute any violation of the anti-trust law.

Back in the salad days of the U. S. Steel Corporation, Judge Gary unwittingly attracted much attention by inviting other steel gentlemen to take dinner with him occasionally to talk over the steel business. The Steel Corporation has often been accused, but never convicted, of being a monopoly in itself. However, when the "Gary dinners" came into the public eye, much clamor was raised by politicians that these functions violated the spirit (if not the letter) of the Sherman law. It was asserted that the masters of steel unofficially, yet none the less efficiently, regulated the whole industry over Judge Gary's coffee and cigars. The Judge was compelled to select his dinner-guests thereafter with a constant eye on the newspaper reporters.

Now, however, Judge Gary has taken heart again from the Supreme Court decision and has suggested that the trade meetings between competing steel companies may be resumed without fear of the law. In behalf of the suggestion, Mr. Gary expressed his opinion that such meetings would serve to "stabilize" the industry. But it is doubted that he will sponsor the move by banqueting his competitors in the former fashion.