Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Europe's Long March Towards Antitrust Damages Actions

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Robert O'Donoghue (Brick Court Chambers) has posted on Europe's Long March Towards Antitrust Damages Actions.

ABSTRACT: The rather long and bumpy road towards a minimum level of harmonization of substantive rules and procedures for class actions continues with the European Commission's recent launch of a public consultation on collective redress (the "Public Consultation"), and public hearings on the matter on April 5, 2011. This followed a Joint Information Note of Vice-Presidents Almunia and Reding and Commissioner Dalli on the need for a coherent European approach to collective redress (the "Joint Note").These documents discuss the possibility of certain forms of class actions in areas that extend beyond EU and national competition laws, including, in particular, consumer protection laws. The Public Consultation and Joint Note may also give a jolt of life to more specific initiatives in the area of competition law, and plaintiff recovery in cartel cases in particular. Here, too, the EU has charted a rather languid course with no clear end-point in sight. Key initiatives include: An EU Commission Green Paper in 2005 on Damages Actions for Breach of the EC antitrust rules. An EU Commission White Paper on Damages Actions for Breach of the EC antitrust rules, including an accompanying Commission Staff Working Paper and Impact Assessment Report. The White Paper suggests specific policy options and measures that would help giving all victims of EU antitrust infringements access to effective redress mechanisms so they can be fully compensated for the harm they suffered. In parallel the EU Commission has sponsored various studies on the quantification of harm caused by infringements of the EU antitrust rules. These include a 2004 study, a further 2007 study on making damages actions more effective in the EU, and a detailed 2009 study by Oxera, an economics consultancy, on more precise quantification methodologies. Following the publication of the 2009 study, the Directorate-General for Competition organized a workshop with external economists to discuss a range of issues concerning quantification of antitrust harm in actions for damages. In 2009 a draft EU Directive intended to legislate for a minimum level of common procedures for private damages actions received unofficial circulation among the antitrust community. In the meantime, matters had largely fallen into abeyance until the recent Public Consultation and Joint Note.

May 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Quality and Reputation: Is Competition Beneficial to Consumers?

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Alessandro Fedele (Department of Economics, Università di Brescia) and Piero Tedeschi (DISCE, Università Cattolica) ask Quality and Reputation: Is Competition Beneficial to Consumers?

ABSTRACT: In this paper we develop a model of product quality and firms' reputation. If quality is not verifiable and there is repeated interaction between firms and consumers, we show that reputation emerges as a means of disciplining the former to deliver high quality. In order to that, we also prove that competitive firms can extract some rent in producing high quality, thus providing a solution to Stiglitz (1989) puzzle, alternative and complementary to Hörner's (2002) one. Positive profit are generated in equilibria characterized by the emergence of a social norm which prescribes a minimum quality level. Moreover, we demonstrate that more concentrated industry structures deliver better quality and higher social and consumer welfare. This finding should induce cautiousness in enhancing competition when product quality is at stake. We derive our results in the specific context of after-sales service quality provided by insuran! ce companies. Yet, we argue that our analysis is of general applicability.

May 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Competition Policy for Emerging Economies: When and How? May 20, 2011

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

May 20, 2011: Competition Policy for Emerging Economies: When and How?

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN

The Amsterdam Center for Law & Economics (ACLE) organizes its 7th annual Competition & Regulation Meeting on the topic:

Competition Policy for Emerging Economies: When and How?

 

May 20, 2011
University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Keynote Speakers

Frédéric Jenny (ESSEC Business School)
Daniel Sokol (University of Florida)
Michal Gal (University of Haifa)

Roundtable discussion chaired by William Kovacic (FTC) between the keynote speakers, joined by Eleanor Fox (New York University School of Law), Andrew Gavil (Howard University), Marc Ivaldi (Toulouse School of Economics), Ioannis Lianos (UCL), Sean Ennis (Competition Commission of Mauritius), Simon Roberts (Competition Commission South Africa), Dina Waked (El Kamel, Egypt) and Hassan Qaqaya (UNCTAD).

Introduction to the Topic

Since the turn of the century, an increasing number of countries around the world have created competition policy regimes from scratch. Noted examples are new EU Member States, China and India, but also Syria, Kenya and Ecuador have advanced in the process of implementing competition laws. Developing countries are pledging to do the same. International organizations such as UNCTAD and the OECD, as well as leading Western agencies and the ICN have advised for decades in the design of competition rules and the creation of the institutions to enforce them. Multinational corporations adapt their business strategies to these developments.

The topic of competition enforcement in emerging economies and its interrelationship to economic development has come on the academic agenda recently. Central to it is the question whether new enforcement regimes need a special set of enforcement tools and what an appropriate mix of enforcement tools and priorities should be in what stage in the country's economic life-cycle.

This year’s ACLE Competition & Regulation meeting focuses on the question: how to make emerging competition law regimes operational and effective? Seeking to be informed by scholarly learning and lessons drawn from the experiences mentioned, the approach in this conference will also be practical. 

Key Questions Addressed in this Conference

What is the right stage in the development of a country for competition policy to add to national prosperity? Should it be part of early aid packages and requirements? What adaptations to competition laws of other jurisdictions do new regimes need? How are legal transplants implemented and how do they function in divergent legal and political systems? Which tools from the rich pallet of competition law enforcement instruments that are applied, for example in the US and the European Commission, are best suited for a young agency? And which are better saved for later stages in its development?

How to kick-start implementation of the law? How to position and staff the institutions? How to nurture proper incentives through selection, training and career prospects? How to organize advocacy? What cases to take-on initially – foreign export cartels, local collusion, domestic mergers? What challenges can agencies expect in the first years? What are the typical procedural and constitutional battles? How to pick the right seminal cases to win those battles and power and reputation? How to avoid corruption by vested interest?

What may be expected from international cooperation in enforcement? What can be the role of the international business community? How will multinational corporations assess new competition regimes? Will their existence affect investment decisions, and if so how? Are foreign multinational potential entrants allies of the domestic agency, or threats to their effectiveness? What quality of agency do companies prefer?

The 7th ACLE Competition & Regulation Meeting

The objective of this C&R Meeting is to bring together renowned specialists in this area in conference to debate. We also welcome practitioners with a keen interest in this specialty subject, including new agency officials, government officials interested in competition policy as a development aid tool, competition lawyers and consultants that intend to develop a practice and young scholars working on these research topics. In the 7th ACLE Competition & Regulation Meeting we will approach the topic of competition policy for emerging markets and agencies from different angles, both economic and legal.

Call for Papers NOW CLOSED

Academics, private practitioners and competition officials, both with a legal and an economic background, are encouraged to submit their research for inclusion in the conference program. We welcome all original research (in progress).

Submissions for inclusion in the program (full papers or abstracts) may be sent together with the author’s address information to: ACLE@uva.nl

For submission details, click below:

The deadline for submission is March 1, 2011. Decisions on acceptance to the program will be communicated mid March.

Conference Program

The program takes place at the University of Amsterdam's Faculty of Law (Oudemanhuispoort 4-6).

For the complete program of presentations click on the link below.

Conference Papers

Papers (or abstracts) available for downloading will be uploaded soon.

Registration - NOW OPEN

The fee for this conference is €200 for practitioners and €75 for (full-time) academics.

To register for the conference, click on the link below. Payment details will be provided with the confirmation of your on-line registration. Please note that we have only a limited number of places available, so early registration is advised.

We can offer a limited number of fee waivers to selected scholars (PhD candidates and post-docs). To qualify, please send your application by separate e-mail to acle@uva.nl.

The registration fee includes conference participation, lunch, refreshments, closing drinks and buffet.

Refer to

Register

Conference Venue

The conference takes place at the University of Amsterdam.

Closing drinks & buffet

The conference program will be closed on Friday afternoon with drinks and a dinner buffet in Amsterdam. Details will be provided here soon.

Hotel Accommodation

Participants are to arrange their own lodging. The following is a selection of hotels in de vicinity of the conference venues.

  • Sofitel The Grand *****
    Oudezijds Voorburgwal 197, Amsterdam
    Website: www.thegrand.nl
  • NH Doelen ****
    Nieuwe Doelenstraat 24, Amsterdam
    Website: www.nh-hotels.com
  • Le Coin ***
    Nieuwe Doelenstraat 5, Amsterdam
    Website www.lecoin.nl
  • Hotel Arena ***
    's Gravesandestraat 51, Amsterdam
    Website www.hotelarena.nl
  • Hostel Stay OK Amsterdam Vondelpark
    Zandpad 5, Amsterdam
    Website: www.stayokay.com

Peripheral event: The 2011 ICN Annual Conference in The Hague

The ACLE conference program is scheduled to be complementary to the 2011 ICN Annual Conference, held May 17-20 in The Hague, so that agency officials with a special interest in our topic can combine them in their visit to The Netherlands.

For more information on the ICN meeting, see the website:

Organizing Committee

Maarten Pieter Schinkel (chair), Rein Wesseling, Benjamin van Rooij, Jeroen van de Ven, Kati Cseres, Jo Seldeslachts, Martijn Han and Michael Frese.

For further inquiries contact the ACLE Office at +31 (0)20 525 4162 or the e-mail address below.

For further information about the ACLE, see www.acle.nl.

Refer to

E-mail ACLE

The City of Amsterdam

For information on Amsterdam and surrounding events programmed in the city in May, see the link below:

The ACLE C&R Meetings

The ACLE Competition & Regulation meetings are a series of annual workshops that focus on topics in competition law enforcement and regulation. Around a program of key-note speakers, scholars discuss submitted academic papers in parallel sessions. The leading idea is to inform European competition policy. The aim is to attract roughly 100 specialized participants from academia, government antitrust agencies, law and consulting firms to create the optimal conditions for a high level exchange of views.

For more information, see the link below:

Refer to

http://crmeetings.acle.nl

May 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Multi-Level Governance in Competition Policy: The European Competition Network

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Firat Cengiz, Tilburg Law School, University of Tilburg, Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC) discusses Multi-Level Governance in Competition Policy: The European Competition Network.

ABSTRACT:This article analyses the general characteristics and practical cooperation mechanisms of the European Competition Network (ECN) as well as the initial experiences of policy enforcement through this network in the light of and in response to the European Commission Report on the Functioning of Regulation 1/2003. In general, this analysis is positive regarding the initial experiences of ECN. The article, however, finds significant accountability and due process problems caused in particular by the opacity of network management. Primarily, the article argues that, as an unintended consequence of Modernisation, EU competition policy has become vulnerable to the general systemic problems of multi-level governance.

May 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Vertical Relationships, Hostages, and Supplier Performance: Evidence from the Japanese Automotive Industry

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Christina L. Ahmadjian (Hitotsubashi University) and Joanne E. Oxley (U. Toronto- Rotman School of Management) have an interesting paper on Vertical Relationships, Hostages, and Supplier Performance: Evidence from the Japanese Automotive Industry.

ABSTRACT: Drawing on the hostage model of Williamson (1983. “Credible Commitments: Using Hostages to Support Exchange.” The American Economic Review 73: 519–540) and recent studies identifying equity affiliation as a robust hostage in the Japanese automotive industry, we examine the relationship between automobile assemblers and their suppliers under different demand conditions. Specifically, we explore the extent to which assemblers buffer their equity-affiliated suppliers from demand fluctuations to a greater extent than is the case for unaffiliated suppliers. Our empirical analysis suggests that assemblers buffered their affiliated suppliers from the effects of a negative demand shock in 1992–95, apparently favoring affiliates over unaffiliated suppliers during this period, as predicted by the hostage model. However, affiliates in our sample also more frequently adjust production to accommodate short-run demand fluctuations faced by the auto assemblers. We discuss how our findings relate to alternative theoretical explanations, such as those featuring differential supplier capabilities, risk aversion, or supply assurance in the face of sticky price adjustments.

May 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Class Representation: Opt-in, Opt-out, or Representative Action?

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol Alberto Martinazzi (Gianni, Origoni, Grippo and Partners) asks Class Representation: Opt-in, Opt-out, or Representative Action?

ABSTRACT: This paper aims to discuss one of the key themes underlying the recent European Commission's public consultation on collective redress, i.e. which of the alternative class action models-opt-out, opt-in, and representative actions-would be best suited to pursue collective redress of EU law in national courts, and to what extent an EU legislative initiative is needed to ensure the efficacy of a would-be European class action and its co-existence with the laws of the Member States on collective redress already in force.

Preliminary to discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the different class action models, consensus should be established on what kind of damage claims collective redress should be addressed to, and whether or not there are cases where collective actions would do more harm than good, or simply be a useless addition to the existing litigation avenues.

The issue is not irrelevant with respect to private antitrust enforcement, a domain where the interests at stake for victims often differ sensibly; depending, for example, on victims being final consumers or undertakings.

May 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Competition Law: A Merger Perspective

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Atul Dua (Seth Dua Associates) describes Competition Law: A Merger Perspective.

ABSTRACT: India has been witnessing mergers and acquisitions across the small, medium and large companies since its independence. However, post 1992, there has been no rules or regulations to keep a check on the impact of mergers and acquisitions on the competition in the market. Hence, it was vital to review combinations because of their potential adverse effect on competition in the relevant market.

May 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Intellectual Property And Competition

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Michael Carrier (Rutgers Camden Law) has a new edited book on Intellectual Property And Competition.

BOOK ABSTRACT: The intersection of the intellectual property and competition laws presents uniquely complicated legal issues. In this essential volume Professor Carrier brings together 14 of the most important works written about the intersection. The entries, from leading judges, government officials, academics, and economists, explore history, the ‘new economy’, and frameworks to resolve the tension between the laws. They also address refusals to license, patent pools, innovation markets, standard setting organizations, and pharmaceutical patent settlements. Alongside an original introduction, this book is an authoritative reference tool for attorneys, academics, and others interested in intellectual property and competition issues.

Full table of contents
Contents:

Acknowledgements

Introduction Michael A. Carrier

PART I HISTORY
1. Herbert Hovenkamp (2005), ‘The Conflict Between Antitrust and Intellectual Property Rights’

PART II NEW ECONOMY
2. Richard A. Posner (2001), ‘Exclusionary Practices (II): The New Economy’
3. Robert Pitofsky (2001), ‘Antitrust and Intellectual Property: Unresolved Issues at the Heart of the New Economy’

PART III GLOBAL APPROACHES
4. William F. Baxter (1966), ‘Legal Restrictions on Exploitation of the Patent Monopoly: An Economic Analysis’
5. Ward S. Bowman, Jr. (1973), ‘The Compatibility of Antitrust and Patent Law Goals’
6. Louis Kaplow (1984), ‘The Patent-Antitrust Intersection: A Reappraisal’
7. Michael A. Carrier (2002), ‘Unraveling the Patent-Antitrust Paradox’

PART IV SPECIFIC ACTIVITY
8. Herbert Hovenkamp, Mark D. Janis and Mark A. Lemley (2006), ‘Unilateral Refusals to License’
9. Carl Shapiro (2000), ‘Navigating the Patent Thicket: Cross Licenses, Patent Pools, and Standard Setting’
10. Robert P. Merges (2001), ‘Institutions for Intellectual Property Transactions: The Case of Patent Pools’
11. Michael A. Carrier (2008), ‘Two Puzzles Resolved: Of The Schumpeter – Arrow Stalemate and Pharmaceutical Innovation Markets’
12. Arti K. Rai (2001), ‘Fostering Cumulative Innovation in the Biopharmaceutical Industry: The Role of Patents and Antitrust’
13. Mark A. Lemley (2002), ‘Intellectual Property Rights and Standard-Setting Organizations’
14. C. Scott Hemphill (2006), ‘Paying for Delay: Pharmaceutical Patent Settlement as a Regulatory Design Problem’

May 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Address by John Swift QC on Peter Freeman’s retirement from office as Chairman of the Competition Commission

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

You can find the speech by John Swift on Peter Freeman’s retirement from office as Chairman of the Competition Commission here.

May 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stability and Competition in Banking after the Financial Crisis - 8 June 2011

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

 

 

The UCL Jevons Institute for Competition Law and Economics is pleased to announce its 2011 Colloquium on


Stability and Competition in Banking after the Financial Crisis
A debate over structural and behavioural remedies in banking in the light of the Independent Banking Commission's Interim Report 


on 8 June 2011 from 4 - 7.30pm at UCL's Faculty of Laws


Speaker include with John Fingleton (OFT), Gert-Jan Koopman (European Commission), Clive Maxwell (OFT), Abel Mateus (New University of Lisbon), Charles Goodhard CBE FBA (LSE), and Vicky Pryce (FTI) 


This event is accredited with 2 .5 CPD hours by the SRA and BSB


Sign up online for your place by clicking on the links below or go to: 
http://jevons-ibc-report.eventbrite.com/  


Standard Ticket £40 (discounts for UCL alumni)
Academics, Government Departments, NGO and Students are free of charge.  

 

About this event:
The recent deep financial crisis has resulted in the search for measures that could reduce the risk of a recurrence. Many have looked at whether banks tend to take on risks that the general public ends up bearing and whether regulations should reduce these negative externalities. Some have called for breaking banks up, raising capital standards, charging them for the risks they create, or impose various rules that prevent banks from creating too much systemic risk. Others have questioned whether the extent to which banking practices were really responsible for the crisis or whether the proposed constraints on banks impose more costs on banks than they are worth such as perhaps reducing bank lending that stimulates economic group. While financial regulators have been most focused on reform competition authorities are also increasingly focused on banking and, among other things, are considering the relati! onship between market structure, business practices, and system risk.

 

The recently released interim report by the Independent Commission on Banking, chaired by Sir John Vickers, is one of the latest attempts to consider these difficult issues. It proposed significantly increased capital requirements on banks and some fencing off of retail banking from riskier operations.

 

This conference brings together antitrust and financial regulation experts, including key current or former regulators from the UK and EU, to discuss these issues. 

 


You are invited to the following event:
Stability and Competition in Banking after the Financial Crisis

Date:
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 from 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM (GMT)

Location:
UCL Faculty of Laws - Graduate Wing
1 - 2 Endsleigh Gardens
WC1 London
United Kingdom

May 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Exploring National Concerted Practices in an Open Small Economy: What Does the Change in the Competition Law in the Netherlands Reveal?

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Fatih Cemil Ozbugday, Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC), Tilburg University - Department of Economics asks Exploring National Concerted Practices in an Open Small Economy: What Does the Change in the Competition Law in the Netherlands Reveal?

ABSTRACT: The present study examines the impact of several industry characteristics on the propensity to collude using a dataset on the existence of collusion across Dutch industries during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The results of the Probit model with sample selection indicate that our sample of Dutch concerted practices is non-random in the sense that it only consists of anti-competitive agreements that were subject of an antitrust immunity behavior. Our bivariate probit model with sample selection indicates that concerted practices are less likely to be seen in service industries relative to manufacturing industries. The results also show that it is more likely that firms engaged in concerted practices in unconcentrated industries. Furthermore, we could not find a non-linear relationship between concentration and the presence of collusion. There is also strong evidence from all the regressions that concerted practices are less likely in industries where entry is more possible. Interestingly, our estimation results indicate that there is a positive correlation between cartel prevalence and import penetration, which implies that import competition did not discipline firm behavior and foreign importers joined the cartel paradise in the Netherlands. As to the role of measures of asymmetry on concerted practice prevalence, the association between patenting activity and propensity to engage in collusion is ambiguous in the current setting, while advertising intensity, as the second measure of asymmetry, is associated with increased likelihood of collusion. Contrary to the previous empirical findings, market growth has been found to have a negative effect on the probability of a concerted practice in an industry. Furthermore, our proposition that growing demand might attract new entrants, which, in turn, hampers collusion, has been falsified in the current context.

May 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Vertical Integration and Exclusive Vertical Restraints between Insurers and Hospitals

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Rudy Douven, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, Rein Halbersma, Dutch Healthcare Authority, Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC), Katalin Katona, Dutch Healthcare Authority, Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC), and Victoria Shestalova, Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis have written on Vertical Integration and Exclusive Vertical Restraints between Insurers and Hospitals.

ABSTRACT: We examine vertical integration and exclusive vertical restraints in healthcare markets where insurers and hospitals bilaterally bargain over contracts. We employ a bargaining model in a concentrated health care market of two hospitals and two health insurers competing on premiums. Without vertical integration, some bilateral contracts will not be concluded only if hospitals are sufficiently differentiated, whereas with vertical integration we find that a breakdown of a contract will always occur. There may be two reasons for not concluding a contract. First, hospitals may choose to soften competition by contracting only one insurer in the market. Second, insurers and hospitals may choose to increase product differentiation by contracting asymmetric hospital networks. Both types raise total industry profits and lower consumer welfare.

May 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The End of the Microsoft Antitrust Saga (Many Years Later) - Microsoft Antitrust Final Judgment Expires May 12

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

DOJ issued a statement regarding the May 12, 2011, expiration of the Microsoft final judgment.

May 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

EU Proposals on Collective Redress-Lost in Consultation?

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Andrew Jeffries (Allen & Overy) asks EU Proposals on Collective Redress-Lost in Consultation?

ABSTRACT: The European Commission launched in February 2011 another consultation on proposals for collective redress. This is open to April 30, 2011, and takes the form of 34 open-ended questions. This is the latest in a long-running and tortuous attempt by the Commission to develop European collective redress, in particular in the fields of consumer protection and competition law, which has so far produced nothing concrete. Is the whole process simply lost in consultation? We consider this below. The EU uses the term "collective redress" to cover court-based procedural mechanisms which enable mass litigants to band together-usually claimants-to bring one case where there are common themes and issues. This is otherwise more commonly known as a class action.

May 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Regulation of Network Infrastructure Investments: An Experimental Evaluation

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Bastian Henze, Tilburg University - Department of Economics - CentER & TILEC, Charles N. Noussair, Tilburg University, and Bert Willems, Tilburg University - Department of Economics - CentER & TILEC discuss Regulation of Network Infrastructure Investments: An Experimental Evaluation.

ABSTRACT: This paper reports the results of an experiment evaluating three regulatory schemes for network infrastructure, in terms of their ability to generate efficient levels of capacity investment. We compare the performance of (1) price cap regulation, (2) a regulatory holiday for new capacity, and (3) price cap regulation with long term contracts combined with a secondary market. We find that the price cap regulation outperforms the regulatory holiday as the latter creates an incentive to underinvest relative to optimal levels. Long term contracts also fail to improve on single price-cap regulation, and can provide more noisy signals about future demand and thus reduce investment.

May 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

If Search Neutrality is the Answer, What's the Question?

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Geoffrey A. Manne, Executive Director, International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE), Lecturer in Law, Lewis & Clark Law School and Joshua D. Wright, George Mason University School of Law ask If Search Neutrality is the Answer, What's the Question?

ABSTRACT: In this paper we evaluate both the economic and non-economic costs and benefits of search bias. In Part I we define search bias and search neutrality, terms that have taken on any number of meanings in the literature, and survey recent regulatory concerns surrounding search bias. In Part II we discuss the economics and technology of search. In Part III we evaluate the economic costs and benefits of search bias. We demonstrate that search bias is the product of the competitive process and link the search bias debate to the economic and empirical literature on vertical integration and the generally-efficient and pro-competitive incentives for a vertically integrated firm to discriminate in favor of its own content. Building upon this literature and its application to the search engine market, we conclude that neither an ex ante regulatory restriction on search engine bias nor the imposition of an antitrust duty to deal upon Google would benefit consumers. In Part V we evaluate the frequent claim that search engine bias causes other serious, though less tangible, social and cultural harms. As with the economic case for search neutrality, we find these non-economic justifications for restricting search engine bias unconvincing, and particularly susceptible to the well-known Nirvana Fallacy of comparing imperfect real world institutions with romanticized and unrealistic alternatives.

Search bias is not a function of Google’s large share of overall searches. Rather, it is a feature of competition in the search engine market, as evidenced by the fact that its rivals also exercise editorial and algorithmic control over what information is provided to consumers and in what manner. Consumers rightly value competition between search engine providers on this margin; this fact alone suggests caution in regulating search bias at all, much less with an ex ante regulatory schema which defines the margins upon which search providers can compete. The strength of economic theory and evidence demonstrating that regulatory restrictions on vertical integration are costly to consumers, impede innovation, and discourage experimentation in a dynamic marketplace support the conclusion that neither regulation of search bias nor antitrust intervention can be justified on economic terms. Search neutrality advocates touting the non-economic virtues of their proposed regime should bear the burden of demonstrating that they exist beyond the Nirvana Fallacy of comparing an imperfect private actor to a perfect government decision-maker, and further, that any such benefits outweigh the economic costs.

May 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Call for Papers: Behavioral Economics & Antitrust Law

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Call for Papers

Announcement
AALS Section on Antitrust and Economic Regulation
AALS Section on Law & Economics

Behavioral Economics & Antitrust Law

January 5-­8, 2012

2012 AALS Annual Meeting
Washington, DC

The AALS Section on Antitrust and Economic Regulation and the Section on Law & Economics will hold a joint program on Behavioral Economics and Antitrust Law during the AALS 2012 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. The program will focus on the influence of Behavioral Economics on Antitrust Law and Policy. Behavioral economics, which examines how individual and market behavior are affected by deviations from the rationality assumptions underlying conventional economics, has generated significant attention from both academics and policy makers. The program will feature presentations by leading scholars who have addressed how behavioral economics impacts antirust law and policy. Confirmed panelists include Maurice Stucke (University of Tennessee), Steve Salop (Georgetown University), Avishalom Tor (Haifa University), and Josh Wright (George Mason University). We are looking to add at least one additional panelist through this call for papers.

Submission Procedure: Those with an interest in the subject are encouraged to submit a draft paper or proposal via email to Bruce H. Kobayashi, at bkobayas@gmu.edu by September 1, 2011.

Eligibility: Faculty members of AALS member and fee-­‐paid law schools are eligible to submit papers. Foreign, visiting, and adjunct faculty members, graduate students, and fellows are not eligible to submit.

Registration Fee and Expenses: Call for Paper participants will be responsible for paying their annual meeting registration fee and travel expenses. How will papers be reviewed? Paper will be selected after review of submissions by members of the Executive Committee of the AALS Section on Antirust and Economic Regulation and the AALS Section on Law & Economics. This committee consists of Scott Hemphill (Columbia Law School), Bruce H. Kobayashi (George Mason University Law School), Michael A. Carrier (Rutgers University School of Law), Darren Bush (University of Houston Law Center), D. Daniel Sokol (University of Florida Levin College of Law), Daniel A. Crane (University of Michigan Law School), and Hillary Greene (University of Connecticut School of Law).

Will program be published in a Journal? Yes, as a symposium in the Journal of Law, Economics & Policy.

Deadline date for submission: September 1, 2011.

Decisions will be announced by September 30, 2011. Program Date and Time: Friday January 6, 2012, 10:30am-­‐12:15pm.

Contact for submission and inquires: Bruce H. Kobayashi Chair, AALS Section on Antitrust and Economic Regulation George Mason Law School 3301 Fairfax Drive Arlington, VA 22201 703 993-­‐8034 bkobayas@gmu.edu

May 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Quantitative Analysis of Olive Oil Market in the North-West Italy

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Francesco Diotallevi, University of Perugia - Department of Economics and Food sciences, Andrea Marchini, University of Perugia, Linda Fioriti, University of Perugia, and Rossella Pampanini, University of Perugia provide A Quantitative Analysis of Olive Oil Market in the North-West Italy.

ABSTRACT: The problem of the competitiveness of the agricultural products has always animated the analyses of the agricultural economists. At the present, them competitive context is influenced from two phenomena of bottom: the progressive increase of the markets segmentation process, fed from the productive differentiation of the enterprises, and the crescent communicative weight of the products in the shelves of the GDO, exalted from the policies of merchandising feeding.

Such phenomena feed complex competitive interdependences between the various trade categories and between the various brands inside of the category.

The extravirgin olive oil, in virtue of the maturity level of its market, shows several peculiarities: it is introduced as a system burdened from secular problems of structural type that need of able participations to give back to force and competitiveness, in this moment that the consumption, is assumed, could increase. In so far as, a provisional support on which is the levers in order to render own market the best regarding the competitors, finds a remarkable interest, especially with the parallel use of a recent source of information (scanner date).

May 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Indian Merger Regulations are Out

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

See the attached.  Summary to follow shortly.

Download Indian merger regs

May 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cartels in the European Union: Procedural Fairness for Defendants and Claimants

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

David Anderson & Rachel Cuff (both Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP) have a new article on Cartels in the European Union: Procedural Fairness for Defendants and Claimants.

ABSTRACT: This Essay will explore European competition procedural issues and concerns from both the defendant and plaintiff angle, and from the micro to the macro level. Above all, it hopes to suggest ways in which the EU systems might be improved to increase fairness and access to justice for both sides. The first three Parts of this Essay consider the issues from the point of view of defendants in cartel investigations. Part I looks at concerns regarding the procedural detail of the investigative process, particularly the increasing impact of human rights arguments. Part II steps back to focus on more overarching concerns, such as the operation of the Commission’s leniency and settlement programs, while Part III considers fundamental structural issues, such as the broad role played by the Commission in EU antitrust enforcement. Part IV looks at the debate from the point of view of third-party claimants for damages, assessing the obstacles to effective damages actions in the EU. This Part also discusses the possibilities for synergies between the public and private enforcement regimes and concludes that the Commission would do well to consider the potential benefits of closer cooperation between the two regimes.

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May 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)