On this illustration photograph, Uber and Grubhub logos are displayed on cell phone screens in Ankara, Turkey on Might 19, 2020.Hakan Nural | Anadolu Company | Getty ImagesNever let a pandemic go to waste.As reviews heighten a few potential Uber and GrubHub merger, 4 members of the U.S. Senate are calling on each the Division of Justice and the Federal Commerce Fee to gear up for a vigorous antitrust investigation into the potential mixture of two of the three largest meals supply providers in the USA.In a letter dated Might 20 to the FTC, the senators implored that it’s “significantly troubling” that this merger is “being contemplated throughout a pandemic.”The antitrust hawks have clearly been circling Huge Tech for some. Heck, executives from Amazon, Fb, and Google would possibly as nicely lease second residences in Georgetown given how typically they frequent the Capitol. Nevertheless, a brand new theme is rising from the cacophony of would-be antitrust enforcement brokers: advancing previous agendas below the guise of a brand new pandemic.Congressional admonishment of the Uber-GrubHub deal is simply the most recent in a groundswell of antitrust sentiment amongst lawmakers. Chosen members of Congress are additionally rallying behind the Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act, sweeping laws that might outlaw most mergers and acquisitions till the COVID-19 pandemic ends — with restricted exception for these transactions involving corporations which are bankrupt or about to fail. (How form: a minimum of the retail business can die with dignity.)Extra particularly, the Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act units its sights on corporations with greater than $100 million in revenues or market capitalization, and something involving hedge funds and personal fairness corporations. How encompassing would this proposed merger ban be? Some observers estimate that it might shut down greater than 80% of M&A transactions — in a single day. That is large. Enormous.M&A quantity in North America declined roughly 25% year-over-year within the first quarter, with deal quantity nosediving sharply in March because the epidemic gripped New York, our nation’s monetary capital.Why the assault? The argument is that antitrust companies — which, like most organizations, are below strict work-from-home orders to help social distancing — are overwhelmed and incapable of conserving tempo with filings. This, in flip, would possibly enable “large companies and personal fairness vultures” to “gobble up struggling small companies and improve their energy by way of predatory mergers,” thereby thwarting competitors, decreasing innovation, and elevating costs, in accordance with a press release by Senator Elizabeth Warren.Let’s take into consideration this virtually. Are the antitrust regulators actually overwhelmed at this second? M&A quantity in North America declined roughly 25% year-over-year within the first quarter, with deal quantity nosediving sharply in March because the epidemic gripped New York, our nation’s monetary capital. By many accounts, deal quantity is predicted to say no by as a lot as 50% year-over-year within the second quarter.How does this decline evaluate to the Nice Recession? Effectively, from 2007 to 2008, the entire variety of M&A transactions in North America eased a mere 15%. Even when we have been to increase the timeframe from 2007 to 2009, the mixture decline in deal quantity was roughly 28%.Painful on the time? After all. In comparison with immediately? Hmm… Not a lot. Actually, FTC Commissioner Noah Phillips went as far as to seem on CNBC to denounce the Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act, citing a dramatic decline in M&A and defending his company’s enforcement efficacy.To compound issues, the acquirers in some massive transactions have been making an attempt to again out of offers signed pre-Covid. Likewise, the second week of April was the primary time since September 2004 that no M&A deal worth greater than $1 billion was introduced globally. Merely acknowledged, the M&A cycle is at its lowest level in 15-plus years and regulators will not be overwhelmed.Furthermore, the plain reality is that the overwhelming majority of M&A transactions are so small that the antitrust regulators have not traditionally even cared about them within the first place. In 2018, solely 22% of M&A offers have been massive sufficient to land on regulators’ desks for evaluate. So why outlaw 80%-plus of transactions? Now, let’s additionally put the Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act into some political and authorized perspective. The invoice is actually the reincarnation of the Consolidation Prevention and Competitors Promotion Act of 2017 (the “CPCPA” invoice), which sought to make it considerably simpler for antitrust authorities to problem M&A transactions.Beneath the CPCPA, because it was initially proposed, the burden of proof in massive transactions would have shifted the burden of proof from the federal government to the merging corporations to show that efficiencies, synergies, and different pro-competitive advantages would outweigh any anti-competitive harms. Are you able to think about another authorized situation by which the defendant is responsible till confirmed harmless?Equally, the CPCPA would have decreased the burden of proof for the federal government in blocking any merger (not simply massive transactions) that may have “materially” lessened competitors (which was outlined as “greater than a de minimis quantity”) quite than “considerably” lessened competitors. These revisions would have overturned greater than a century of well-settled antitrust legislation. Right here once more, that is large. Enormous.The Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act takes the proposed injustices of the CPCPA a major step ahead by overreaching even additional to unravel a purported drawback that does not exist. No one — not even the regulators themselves — have declared a state of emergency right here. These have been unhealthy concepts in 2017, and they’re nonetheless unhealthy concepts in 2020.Peter Nesvold is a former chief working officer of Monetary Companies Funding Banking at Raymond James. Previous to that he was managing director and head of technique at Silver Lane Advisors. For extra perception from CNBC contributors, comply with @CNBCopinion on Twitter.