Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Consumer Credit and Competition: The Puzzle of Competitive Credit Markets

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Edward J. Janger, Brooklyn Law School and Susan Block-Lieb, Fordham University School of Law address Consumer Credit and Competition: The Puzzle of Competitive Credit Markets.

ABSTRACT: Consumer credit markets in the US present a puzzle. As competing explanations are offered for the recent sub-prime mortgage crisis and skyrocketing default rates for unsecured consumer credit,1 two seemingly inconsistent facts confound the discussion. While consumer credit markets are, by all accounts, competitive, consumers find themselves saddled with unsustainable amounts of debt that accrues interest at rates that are exorbitant. How could these two situations exist simultaneously? It is an article of antitrust faith that competitive markets are good for consumers. In a world of competitive markets, there is a limited role for consumer protection. So long as products are transparent, then consumer preferences, price competition and the invisible hand should produce market nirvana.

In order to untangle the relationship between competition and consumer credit, one must recognise that there are really four “competition” stories in play. The first is the standard competition story between and among lenders for customers. The second is competition between and among lending technologies driven by regulatory arbitrage. The third is competition based on product innovation and differentiation, and the fourth is competition among regulators. Each of these “competition” stories offers a distinct set of lessons for those who would try to reform consumer credit markets. Without understanding each of the four stories, and the interrelationship among them, reform is likely to miss the mark.

In this short essay, we will seek to sketch the paradox of competition and consumer protection. Then we will sketch four interrelated competition stories, some potential competitive benefits and the respective market pathologies of each. Next, we will evaluate a number of pending US regulatory reforms in light of these concerns. Finally, we will suggest the outlines of a coordinated regulatory architecture that seeks to channel the various “competitions” in productive directions, without unduly stifling those competitive efforts.

September 14, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hiring: EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – COMPETITION COMMISSION OF MAURITIUS

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Executive Director – Competition Commission of Mauritius

 

The Competition Commission of Mauritius was established by the Competition Act 2007.  It became fully operational in 2009 and has so far launched seven investigations of restrictive practices under the Act.  We are now seeking a new Executive Director to lead the 20-strong team from early 2011.

 

The Executive Director is empowered by law to launch and carry out investigations, supported by the staff of the CCM.  Final decisions on investigations are taken by the five Commissioners, who can determine and implement remedies and penalties, where needed, without reference to Government.  The Executive Director also leads the institution as Chief Executive, and must represent it, and promote the Competition Act more generally, externally.  See the Commission’s web site at http://www.ccm.mu for more information about the CCM.

 

Full details are available on the website of the Prime Minister’s Office at: http://www.gov.mu/portal/goc/pmo/file/Exe_Director_CCM.doc

 

Interested candidates are requested to send their applications together with their CV and motivation letter to the Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office at mail address: pmo@mail.gov.mu by Tuesday 12 October 2010.

September 14, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

TAKING POLITICS OUT OF MERGERS: A REVIEW OF IRISH EXPERIENCE

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Patrick Massey (Compecon) has written on TAKING POLITICS OUT OF MERGERS: A REVIEW OF IRISH EXPERIENCE.

ABSTRACT: The Competition Act, 2002, radically altered merger control in Ireland, removing political involvement and assigning responsibility for reviewing mergers to an independent agency, the Competition Authority. This paper reviews the first 5 years of this new regime. The reform has increased transparency and made competition the sole criteria for the evaluation of mergers. There is evidence that most mergers notified have no competitive effect within Ireland, suggesting that the legislation is too broad in scope. Although relatively few notified mergers raised any competition concerns, this paper identifies problems in the Competition Authority's analysis in a number of these cases. The Authority has tended to rely on qualitative rather than quantitative evidence. In some instances, its analysis is inconsistent with economic theory. This applies particularly to its analysis of efficiencies. This paper therefore recommends that the Authority urgently review its merger procedures and introduce additional checks and balances in the merger review process. In addition, it should review its approach to efficiencies. This paper also suggests possible legislative reforms to reduce the number of unnecessary notifications and provide third parties with a right of appeal against decisions by the Authority.

September 14, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Industry-Specific Antitrust Policy for Innovation

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Mark Lemley (Stanford Law) has a short but interesting new paper on Industry-Specific Antitrust Policy for Innovation.

ABSTRACT: The premise that IP promotes dynamic efficiency while antitrust concentrates on static welfare is wrong, or at least oversimplified. It proceeds from a fundamentally Schumpeterian assumption that competition will not lead to innovation, and we need the lure of monopoly to drive investment in new products. In fact, however there is substantial economic evidence suggesting that competition itself may act as a greater spur to innovation than monopoly. Critically, different market structures will promote innovation in different industries. Sometimes - as in the pharmaceutical industry - we need the incentive provided by strong patents, but in other industries - like the Internet - competition is more likely to spur innovation. Both patent and antitrust law need to take these industry differences into account. And to do so, antitrust will need to shed its subservience to IP law.

September 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Antitrust and the Close Look: Transaction Cost Economics in Competition Policy

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Herb Hovenkamp (Iowa - Law) has a new paper on Antitrust and the Close Look: Transaction Cost Economics in Competition Policy.

ABSTRACT: This paper briefly examines the contributions of Transaction Cost Economics (TCE) to antitrust analysis, focusing on vertical integration and its contractual substitutes, mainly, minimum and maximum resale price maintenance, vertical nonprice restraints, tying, bundled discounts and exclusive dealing and related exclusionary contracts.

September 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cournot or Stackelberg competition? A survey on experimental evidence

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Andreas Hildenbrand (Giessen - Econ) discusses Cournot or Stackelberg competition? A survey on experimental evidence.

ABSTRACT: In this survey, I look into experimental studies on duopolistic quantity competition with homogeneous products and duopolistic price competition with heterogeneous products. The focus is on the sequence of competition. That is, I summarize and analyze experimental studies checking Cournot competition against Stackelberg competition. I find that while Stackelberg equilibrium outcomes are seldom under quantity competition, under price competition, the Stackelberg equilibrium prediction seems to be more appropriate. However, after discussing the experimental setups, I conclude that some methodological problems are present. Moreover, I make recommendations for further research.

September 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Pros and Cons of Standard Setting

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

The Swedish Competition Authority is hosting a conference on The Pros and Cons of Standard Setting.

Pros and Cons 2010

Contributors | Registration | Questions |

We have a tradition of arranging seminars on major issues, where academics and practitioners meet in the same arena.

The seminars, which is open for competition authority employees, researchers, lawyers and competition consultants, have been appreciated for the open discussion among the participants and we hope that this year’s seminar will be no exception.

Seminar in Stockholm on November 12


This year, the theme for the seminar is "The Pros and Cons of Standard Setting". As in previous years we will arrange a seminar in Stockholm on November 12 where the contributors will present their papers and leading officials from competition authorities around the world will be the discussants.

Programme, Friday 12 November


8.30 Registration and coffee
 
9.00 Introduction by Dan Sjöblom, Director General of the Swedish Competition Authority
9.10 Introduction by the moderator: Svend Albeak
 
9.20 Tineke M. Egyedi: On the Implications of Competing Standards.
Discussant: Jörg Nothdurft.
10.20 Coffee
 
10.50 Klaus M. Schmidt: On Standard Setting and the Incentives to Invest.
Discussant: Laure Durand-Viel. 
11.50 Anne Layne-Farrar: Business Models and Standard Setting Process.
Discussant: Jan Kees Winters
12.50 Lunch
14.00 Richard J. Gilbert: FRAND commitments v. ex ante disclosures of licensing terms. 
Discussant: Juan Delgado
15.00 Coffee 
15.30 Damien Geradin: On the risk of "reverse hold ups"
Discussant: Peter Freeman
16.30 Closing of seminar
 


Each speaker has 35 minutes for their presentations; the discussants have 15 minutes each, leaving 10 minutes for general discussion.

Venue

The seminar venue is World Trade Center Stockholm, directly adjacent to Arlanda Express, the express rail link with Stockholm Arlanda Airport. The conference venue is marked by red dot.

Contributors

Tineke M. Egyedi, Delft University of Technology
Damien Geradin, Tilburg University
Richard J. Gilbert, UC Berkeley
Anne Layne-Farrar, LECG Consulting Chicago
Klaus M. Schmidt, University of Munich

We have the pleasure of announcing that the following senior officials will comment on the presentations:

Juan Delgado, National Competition Commission, Spain
Peter Freeman, Competition Commission, United Kingdom
Jörg Nothdurft, Bundeskartellamt
Jan Kees Winters, Netherlands Competition Authority
Laure Durand-Viel, French Competition Authority

Moderator of the seminar will be Svend Albaek, DG Competition.

Registration

We need your registration at the latest on the 8th of October 2010. Please register here.

All matters regarding registration and accommodation are handled by

Meetagain .

Questions

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our head of the organizing committee Arvid Fredenberg at

arvid.fredenberg@kkv.se .

September 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cross-border Merger, Vertical Structure, and Spatial Competition

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Hamid Beladi (Department of Economics, College of Business, University of Texas at San Antonio), Avik Chakrabarti (Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and Sugata Marjit (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta) explore Cross-border Merger, Vertical Structure, and Spatial Competition.

ABSTRACT: This analysis is a natural follow up of continued efforts to assess the consequences of cross-border mergers in industries with a vertical structure. Absent free trade, in a vertically related industry, the downstream firms will not choose the social optimum under spatial price discrimination when none of the downstream firms produce all the varieties that consumers demand. We show that free trade will induce the downstream firms to gravitate toward the social optimum but an upstream merger across borders, under free trade, will pull the downstream firms away from the social optimum back to their autarkic positions.

September 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

M&A and Regulatory Risk: What's In Your Toolkit?

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

This is a tele-seminar that I highly recommend.  I can vouch personally for a number of the speakers - really smart people who present well.

As Steve Cernak of GM describes this seminar (and I think the world of Steve too):

When you're involved in a merger, you need to know about HSR rules -- and the program will cover the latest on merger guidelines and gun-jumping -- and now you also need to know about foreign corrupt practices and data security and how those issues can affect at least your client's reputation.  This teleseminar promises to bring you up to date on some old issues and teach you something about issues that might be new to you.




 
 
M&A and Regulatory Risk:
What's In Your Toolkit?


 

Teleconference and Live Audio Webcast
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Event Code: CET0MAT

What are the fundamental regulatory risks you face for an M&A deal? Today, the M&A landscape is dramatically changing.

With new Horizontal Merger Guidelines governing antitrust review, expanded notions of gun jumping, a surge in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement, and a wide disparity in information privacy and security policies, it is important to remain up-to-date with new guidelines and trends impacting risk, reputation and value of companies.

Our Expert Faculty

Paula C. Martucci,(Moderator)
Program Manager
IT Security Policy and Compliance
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Bentonville, AR

Paul T. Denis

Partner
Dechert LLP

Washington, DC

George L. Paul

Partner
White & Case LLP

Washington, DC

Karen A. Popp

Partner
Sidley Austin LLP

Washington, DC

Dana Rosenfeld
Partner
Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

Washington, DC

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Program Time

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM ET

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM London, England
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM Brussels, Belgium



Tuition / Fees

$115 Section of Antitrust Law Members
$160 ABA members
$190 General Public
$75 Government Employees and Academics
$95 Each additional registrant using the same phone line
$25 Law Students



Sponsors

Section of Antitrust Law Corporate Counseling Committee,

Compliance and Ethics Committee,

Privacy and Information Security Committee,

Mergers & Acquisitions Committee,

and


ABA Center for Continuing
Legal Education



Program on CD

This complete program
will be available on CD.

Click here to pre-order your CD.

$125
Section of Antitrust Law Members

$135
ABA Members

$150
All others




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September 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

2010 EU Competition Law & Policy - From the Commission, competition authorities, OFT, OECD, leading in-house counsel, and advisors…

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Europe's definitive competition law conference is booking up fast, with 130+ of your peers already registered to attend – join them by registering now!

The 19th annual Advanced EU Competition Law, Brussels conference provides you with an in-depth review of the major developments of the past year.

In just two days you will be taken through the full range of essential topics, from cartels and mergers, through to state aid, Articles 101 & 102, vertical restraints and horizontal agreements.

Registrations received by the 15th October will save £100. So find out more today by downloading the programme or visiting the website - use VIP Code: YZVKMYM to claim your discount.

Expertly chaired by:

Day one: Margaret Bloom, Visiting Professor, School of Law, King's College London, Senior Consultant, Freshfields 
  Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
, London
Day two:  Alec Burnside, Partner, Linklaters LLP, Brussels

23 leading speakers:

  • Ewoud Sakkers, Head of Unit, Directorate G - Cartels, DG Competition, European Commission, Brussels
  • Henning Leupold, Policy Analyst, Antitrust & Mergers Policy & Scrutiny, DG Competition, European Commission, Brussels
  • Eirik Stolt-Nielsen, Director of Investigations, Norwegian Competition Authority, Bergen
  • Christof Vollmer, Rapporteur 11th Decision Division, Bundeskartellamt, Bonn
  • Sheldon Mills, Director of Mergers, OFT, London
  • Antonio Capobianco, Senior Competition Law Expert, Competition Division, OECD, Paris
  • Juliette Enser, Assistant Director, CCEG, OFT, London
  • Frank Govaerts, Vice President & Deputy General Counsel - Europe, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc., Brussels
  • Laurent Geelhand, General Counsel Europe, Michelin Group, Clermont-Ferrand
  • Jean-Yves Art, Professor, College of Europe, Brugge, Associate General Counsel, Microsoft, Brussels
  • Jörn Eickhoff, Senior Counsel, Siemens AG, Munich
  • Lars Peter Munch Larsen, Attorney-at-law, Post Danmark A/S, Copenhagen
  • Laura Newton, Antitrust Counsel, Shell International, London
  • Cristina Caffarra, Vice President, Charles River Associates, London & Brussels
  • Paolo Buccirossi, Director, Lear, Rome & Brussels
  • John Ratliff, Partner, WilmerHale LLP, Brussels
  • Johan Ysewyn, Partner, Linklaters LLP, Brussels
  • John Kallaugher, Partner, Latham & Watkins, London
  • Peter Camesasca, Partner, Covington & Burling LLP, Brussels
  • Simon Priddis, Partner, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, London
  • Axel Gutermuth, Counsel, Arnold & Porter LLP, Brussels
  • Oliver Bretz, Partner, Clifford Chance LLP, London
  • Jacques Derenne, Partner, Hogan Lovells, Brussels & Associate Professor of State Aid Law, University of Liège

For more information, including the detailed programme, download the latest brochure or visit the website - quoting VIP Code: YZVKMYM.

Advanced EU Competition Law Brussels in facts and figures:

  • 3,300+ individuals have already attended this essential conference - including representatives from: Coca-Cola, Shell, Yell, Red Bull, Unilever, Cisco Systems, Nestle, Vattenfall, Nokia, Statoil Hydro, British American Tobacco, Apple, Nissan, Nike, Ofcom, and many more…
  • 170+ delegates embraced their legal update at the previous forum
  • The event is now running successfully in its 19th year
  • 12 SRA and Bar Council hours
  • This is simply 1 unmissable annual highlight

"The yearly advanced EC competition law update is a must." S Hirsbrunner, Gleiss Lutz

Advanced EU Competition Law, Brussels
Tuesday 23rd & Wednesday 24th November 2010 - Le Plaza, Brussels, Belgium

Register Now Visit the Website     Latest Agenda     Email IBC Legal     Call +44 (0) 20 7017 5503

September 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)