Friday, August 5, 2022

Private Monopoly and Restricted Entry - Evidence from the Notary Profession

Private Monopoly and Restricted Entry - Evidence from the Notary Profession

 

 

Frank Verboven

KU Leuven

Biliana Yontcheva

Vienna University of Economics and Business

Abstract

We study entry restrictions in a private monopoly: the Latin notary system. Under this widespread system, the state appoints notaries and grants them exclusive rights to certify various important economic transactions, including real estate, business registrations, and marriage and inheritance contracts. We develop an empirical entry model to uncover the current policy goals behind the geographic entry restrictions. The entry model incorporates a spatial demand model to infer the extent of market expansion versus business stealing from entry, and a multi-output production model to determine the markups for real estate and other transactions. We find that the entry restrictions primarily serve producer interests, and give only a small weight to consumer surplus, even conditional on the current high markups. We subsequently perform policy counterfactuals with welfare-maximizing and free entry. We show how reform would generate considerable welfare improvements, and imply a substantial redistribution towards consumers without threatening geographic coverage.

August 5, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Cost-Price Relationships in a Concentrated Economy

Cost-Price Relationships in a Concentrated Economy

By:

Falk Bräuning; José Fillat; Gustavo Joaquim

Abstract:

The US economy is at least 50 percent more concentrated today than it was in 2005. In this paper, we estimate the effect of this increase on the pass-through of cost shocks into prices. Our estimates imply that the pass-through becomes about 25 percentage points greater when there is an increase in concentration similar to the one observed since the beginning of this century. The resulting above-trend price growth lasts for about four quarters. Our findings suggest that the increase in industry concentration over the past two decades could be amplifying the inflationary pressure from current supply-chain disruptions and a tight labor market.

August 4, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Oligopoly under incomplete information: on the welfare effects of price discrimination

Oligopoly under incomplete information: on the welfare effects of price discrimination

By:

Daniel F. Garrett (TSE - Toulouse School of Economics - UT1 - Université Toulouse 1 Capitole - Université Fédérale Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement); Renato Gomes (TSE - Toulouse School of Economics - UT1 - Université Toulouse 1 Capitole - Université Fédérale Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Lucas Maestri (FGV-EPGE - Universidad de Brazil)

Abstract:

We study competition by firms that simultaneously post (potentially nonlinear) tariffs to consumers who are privately informed about their tastes. Market power stems from informational frictions, in that consumers are heterogeneously informed about firms' offers. In the absence of regulation, all firms offer quantity discounts. As a result, relative to Bertrand pricing, imperfect competition benefits disproportionately more consumers whose willingness to pay is high, rather than low. Regulation imposing linear pricing hurts the former but benefits the latter consumers. While consumer surplus increases, firms' profits decrease, enough to drive down utilitarian welfare. By contrast, improvements in market transparency increase utilitarian welfare, and achieve similar gains on consumer surplus as imposing linear pricing, although with limited distributive impact. On normative grounds, our analysis suggests that banning price discrimination is warranted only if its distributive benefits have a weight on the societal objective.

August 3, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Nonlinear Pricing in Oligopoly: How Brand Preferences Shape Market Outcomes

Nonlinear Pricing in Oligopoly: How Brand Preferences Shape Market Outcomes

By:

Renato Gomes (TSE - Toulouse School of Economics - UT1 - Université Toulouse 1 Capitole - Université Fédérale Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Jean-Marie Lozachmeur (TSE - Toulouse School of Economics - UT1 - Université Toulouse 1 Capitole - Université Fédérale Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Lucas Maestri (FGV-EPGE - Universidad de Brazil)

Abstract:

We study oligopolistic competition by firms practicing second-degree price discrimination. In line with the literature on demand estimation, our theory allows for comovements between consumers' taste for quality and propensity to switch brands. If low-type consumers are sufficiently less (more) brand loyal than high types, (i) quality provision is inefficiently low at the bottom (high at the top) of the product line, and (ii) informational rents are negative (positive) for high types, while positive (negative) for low types. We produce testable comparative statics on pricing and quality provision, and show that more competition (in that consumers become less brand-loyal) is welfare-decreasing whenever it tightens incentive constraints (so much so that monopoly may be welfare-superior to oligopoly). Interestingly, pure-strategy equilibria fail to exist whenever brand loyalty is sufficiently different across consumers types. Accordingly, price/quality dispersion ensues from the interplay between self-selection constraints and heterogeneity in brand loyalty.

August 2, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 1, 2022

Concentration and Markups: Evidence from Retail Lotteries

Concentration and Markups: Evidence from Retail Lotteries

 

Brett Hollenbeck

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management

Renato Giroldo

affiliation not provided to SSRN

 

Abstract

In this note, we provide a cleanly identified and empirically relevant example of a setting where an increase in market concentration caused lower prices and markups. This result contradicts some widely used models of competition and highlights the value of richer models of firm behavior and competition in the debate over concentration and market power. Our setting is the Washington retail cannabis industry, which features exogenous variation in market concentration that resulted from retail licenses being awarded via lotteries. The data allow us to compute markups directly by observing wholesale prices. We find a negative causal relationship between markups and concentration, where exogenously more concentrated markets have significantly lower markups and prices.

August 1, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 29, 2022

Innovation, Antitrust Enforcement, and the Inverted-U

Innovation, Antitrust Enforcement, and the Inverted-U

 

Richard Gilbert

University of California, Berkeley

Christian Riis

Norwegian Business School

Erlend Riis

University of Cambridge

 

Abstract

The effects of monopoly power or mergers on incentives to innovate are important issues for antitrust enforcement, but they receive relatively little attention in litigated cases compared to the analysis of predicted effects on prices. This paper reviews what is known about the relationship between market structure and innovation and its implications for antitrust enforcement. A focus is on the significance of the inverted-U result in dynamic markets identified in research by Philippe Aghion, Peter Howitt, and their co-authors. We note that these results do not apply directly to mergers. A merger creates a negative externality by eliminating the incentive of each merging party to invest in an innovation that takes sales from the other party. However, mergers also can create a positive externality for innovations that expand the merged firm’s demand or accelerate discovery. We conclude that the net effects for innovation from mergers and from the acquisition or maintenance of monopoly power depend importantly on the extent to which mergers or monopoly power increase existing profits that are jeopardized by innovation.

July 29, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Regulating Big Tech: Lessons From the FTC’s Do Not Call Rule

Regulating Big Tech: Lessons From the FTC’s Do Not Call Rule

 

 

William E. Kovacic

George Washington University - Law School; King's College London - The Dickson Poon School of Law

David A. Hyman

Georgetown University Law Center

 

Abstract

Big Tech (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google) is under regulatory assault. Cases have been brought against each of these companies in multiple countries around the world, but there is an emerging consensus that more needs to be done – most likely in the form of ex ante regulation that prescribes rules of conduct for dominant information platforms. The European Union and the United Kingdom are well on the way to establishing such frameworks, and the United States appears poised to undertake similar measures in the coming years. Most of the debate has focused on the case for ex ante regulation of Big Tech, with much less attention to the complexities of developing and implementing such regulation.

This is not the first time that regulators have sought to use ex ante regulation to govern a technologically dynamic sector of the economy. In 2003, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) promulgated its Do-Not-Call (DNC) Rule, which allows individuals to block unsolicited commercial telephone calls by enrolling in a national registry. The DNC Rule provides a useful case study of the complexities of developing and implementing ex ante regulation of a dynamic industry in the face of substantial legal, technological, and political risks. We identify a series of lessons for those now seeking to use similar strategies to regulate Big Tech.

July 28, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Big Data, Little Chance of Success: Why Precedent Does not Support Anti-Data Theories of Harm

Big Data, Little Chance of Success: Why Precedent Does not Support Anti-Data Theories of Harm

 

 

Kristen O'Shaughnessy

 

D. Daniel Sokol

USC Gould School of Law; USC Marshall School of Business

Jaclyn Phillips

 

Nathaniel Thomas Swire

 

Abstract

As the digital economy has matured, “Big Data”— extremely large datasets that require sophisticated tools to analyze — has enabled extraordinary innovation, creating a number of benefits, including free products and greater efficiencies. Precisely because Big Data is such a powerful tool, though, scholars, governments, and litigants have called attention to what they view as its potential to harm both competition and consumers. In this article, we explore the advances enabled by Big Data, its competitive implications, and why applying an expansive interpretation of the antitrust laws regarding single firm conduct to Big Data would be out of step with legal precedent and sound economics.

July 27, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

From Divergence to Convergence: The Role of Intermediaries in Developing Competition Laws in ASEAN

From Divergence to Convergence: The Role of Intermediaries in Developing Competition Laws in ASEAN

 

 

Wendy Ng

University of Melbourne - Law School

 

Abstract

Despite the diversity of contexts and circumstances in which competition laws are developed and exist, many countries have enacted competition laws that are broadly similar. To learn more about the dynamics shaping the development of competition law at the national, regional, and international levels, this article investigates the development of competition law in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, a region whose competition laws remain underexplored. This article undertakes a case study on the drafting of competition law in the ASEAN member states with the most recently drafted and/or enacted new comprehensive competition laws, that being Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and the Philippines. It finds that, while there were differences in the processes of drafting and enacting competition law in these countries as well as in their local contexts, their competition laws are similar in many respects. The case study also finds that intermediaries facilitated the processes of translation and adaptation that occurred in developing competition law in these ASEAN member states. This article argues that the important role that intermediaries played in developing competition laws was a key reason for the broad convergence of these competition laws across their diverse local settings.

July 27, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Don't Abolish Employee Noncompete Agreements

Don't Abolish Employee Noncompete Agreements

 

Alan J. Meese

William & Mary Law School

 

Abstract

For over three centuries, Anglo-American courts have assessed employee noncompete agreements under a Rule of Reason. Despite longstanding precedent, some now advocate banning all such agreements. These advocates contend that employers use superior bargaining power to impose such “contracts of adhesion,” preventing employees from selling their labor to the highest bidder and reducing wages. Abolitionists also contend that such agreements cannot produce cognizable benefits and that employers could achieve any benefits via less restrictive alternatives, without limiting employee autonomy.

This article critiques the Abolitionist position. Arguments for banning noncompete agreements echo hostile critiques of other nonstandard contracts during Antitrust Law’s “inhospitality era.” These critiques induced courts and agencies to condemn various nonstandard agreements. Employee noncompete agreements escaped such condemnation because they were governed by state contract law.

The article recounts how Transaction Cost Economics (“TCE”), undermined these critiques. TCE demonstrated that nonstandard agreements, such as exclusive territories, could overcome market failures by preventing dealers from free riding on each other’s promotional efforts. TCE also concluded that such agreements were voluntary integration, unrelated to market power. These scientific developments induced courts to abandon their hostility to nonstandard contracts, and nearly all such agreements properly withstand rule of reason scrutiny.

TCE also undermines the case against employee noncompete agreements. Most notably, TCE predicts that most such agreements are voluntary methods of ensuring that employers capture the benefits of investments in employee training and trade secrets, by deterring rival firms from free riding on such investments and bidding away employees. Application of TCE also rebuts claims that less restrictive alternatives will achieve the same objectives as noncompete agreements.

Finally, TCE undermines contentions that such agreements injure employees by preventing them from receiving lucrative bids from competing employers. This account of harm treats hypothesized bids and resulting imagined (higher) wages as an exogenous baseline against which to measure the impact of such agreements. According to TCE, however, such bids are not exogenous, but instead often occur because noncompete agreements incentivize employers to make investments that increase employee productivity. Banning such agreements will thus reduce employee productivity, eliminating the incentive for rivals to bid for employees. In such cases, claims that noncompete agreements reduce wages invoke an illusory baseline of bids that would not occur but for the enforcement of such agreements.

Empirical evidence confirms TCE’s predictions. Many such agreements apparently arise in unconcentrated markets. Most are disclosed in advance, and robust enforcement induces additional employee training. Finally, employees who receive pre-employment notice of such provisions earn higher wages than similarly situated employees not bound by such agreements. Thus, many such agreements appear to be voluntary means of protecting investments in employee training, improving employee productivity, and increasing GDP.

This is not to say that all employee noncompete agreements produce significant benefits. Some employers decline to disclose such contracts until after employees join the firm. Such agreements apparently depress wages without producing benefits. Moreover, some such agreements could raise rivals’ costs and enhance employers’ market power.

Neither potential impact justifies abolition. States or the FTC could encourage or require pre-contractual disclosure, leaving employers and employees free to adopt provisions that increase their joint welfare. Moreover, even the inventors of raising rivals’ costs theory opined that most markets are not susceptible to such a strategy. Abolitionists have made no effort to establish that employee non-compete agreements usually arise in markets where such a strategy is possible. The rare prospect that parties may employ fully disclosed agreements to pursue such a strategy does not justify abolishing all such agreements.

Indeed, banning all such agreements may have a disparate impact on small, labor-intensive firms, by discouraging optimal investments in employee training. This potential impact may help explain labor union support for abolishing such agreements. Unionized firms predictably adopt capital-intensive production processes in response to collective bargaining and resulting noncompetitive wages. Laws that disadvantage non-union, labor-intensive firms will enhance the demand for the output of unionized firms, increasing the demand for unionized labor. Banning noncompete agreements will thus sometimes boost unionized workers at the expense of their nonunion counterparts.

July 26, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 25, 2022

Antitrust and Trademark Settlements

Antitrust and Trademark Settlements

 

 

C. Scott Hemphill

New York University School of Law

Erik Hovenkamp

University of Southern California School of Law

 

Abstract

In today’s digital economy, online competitive advertising plays a central role in informing consumers about low prices and other desirable product features. Accordingly, rivals have a strong incentive and opportunity to place anticompetitive limits on the flow of information. They do so by reaching collusive agreements in which the firms avoid targeting one another with ads. Ordinarily, such an arrangement might be regarded as a straightforward antitrust violation. However, these deals take the form of settlements of trademark litigation, raising the possibility that the restraints might be justified by trademark law. There is little case law or scholarship identifying when settlements of trademark litigation run afoul of the antitrust laws.

This Article is an effort to fill that gap. We explain how the standard developed in the Supreme Court’s Actavis decision, a watershed ruling about patent settlements, can be adapted and applied to trademark cases. We articulate how courts can identify anticompetitive settlements without having to evaluate the merits of the underlying trademark infringement claims. Settlements imposing broad restraints on competitive targeted advertising may raise significant antitrust concerns that are unlikely to arise in run-of-the-mill settlements that merely restrain what marks a firm can attach to its product. We also consider and evaluate a number of possible procompetitive justifications for restrictive trademark settlements. Our analysis uncovers substantial errors in the first appellate decision addressing these restraints.

July 25, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 22, 2022

Antitrust Interoperability Remedies

Antitrust Interoperability Remedies

 

 

Herbert Hovenkamp

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School; University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School; University College London

 

Abstract

Compelled interoperability can be a useful judicial or statutory remedy for dominant firms, including digital platforms with significant market power in a product or service. They can address competition concerns without interfering unnecessarily with the structures that make digital platforms attractive and that have contributed so much to economic growth.
Given the wide variety of structures and business models for big tech, “interoperability” must be defined flexibly. Approaches to interoperability begin with the premise that anything that can be organized within a firm can also be organized in a market, and vice-versa. The key to a good interoperability solution is to permit individual assets to function competitively where that is preferable, but collaboratively when collaboration produces better results. Interoperability can include everything from “dynamic” interoperability that requires real time sharing of data and operations, to “static” interoperability which requires portability but not necessarily real time interactions. Also included are the compelled sharing of intellectual property or other productive assets, or creation of broader and more competitive management within the firm.
Designing such remedies requires identification of the particular structures or practices that are making these markets less competitive than they might be. Interoperability is not the best remedy in all situations, nor even for all of those that involve digital platforms. For example, it is rarely the best remedy for non-dominant assets, even those that are sold on two-sided digital markets.
Tested by these criteria, the proposed American Innovation and Choice Online Act falls short. Without assessing a market power requirement, it would compel interoperability of ordinary competitive products, and in ways that are likely to produce significant private and enforcement costs and to encourage substantial free riding without offering any competitive benefit.

July 22, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Bespoke Antitrust

Bespoke Antitrust

 

 

Harry First

New York University School of Law

Spencer Weber Waller

Loyola University Chicago School of Law

 

Abstract

Antitrust laws in the United States, and competition rules in Europe, are usually set out in statutes of general applicability, written in broad, almost constitutional form. This is a “one size fits all” statutory style. There is another possible style of antitrust, which we call “bespoke antitrust.” It consists of specialized rules customized for the industry, for a particular plaintiff or defendant, or for the practice in question.

In this article we describe the under-appreciated trend toward bespoke antitrust law. We think that this trend shows up in case law, enforcement agency practice, and regulatory alternatives. We also look at existing and new proposals to create more bespoke antitrust rules and institutions to deal with the challenges of digital platforms and other dominant firm in the tech space. This, we believe, is a particularly important example of the trend toward more bespoke rules for competition law.

We conclude with a cautious endorsement and a caveat. Bespoke antitrust is expensive in many ways and can threaten the rule of law by carving out exemptions if society (or the beneficiaries) are willing to pay the price. Nevertheless, there are important areas where targeted efforts are worth the price. Custom-tailoring has its rewards.

July 21, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Information vs Competition: How Platform Design Affects Profits and Surplus

Information vs Competition: How Platform Design Affects Profits and Surplus

 

 

Amedeo Piolatto

Autonomous University of Barcelona; Barcelona Economics Institute (IEB); Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE)

Florian Schuett

Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC); Tilburg University - Tilburg University School of Economics and Management

 

Abstract

We study the design of online platforms that aggregate information and facilitate transactions. Two different designs can be observed in the market: revealing platforms that disclose the identity of transaction partners (e.g. Booking) and anonymous platforms that do not (e.g. Hotwire). To analyse the implications of this design choice for profits and surplus, we develop a model in which consumers differ in their location as well as their preferred product variety. Sellers offer their products for sale both directly (‘offline’) and indirectly via the platform (‘online’) but are unable to credibly disclose the product variety they offer when selling offline. The model gives rise to a novel trade-off associated with the anonymous platform design: offline, consumers observe location but not variety; online, they observe variety but not location. While the revealing design leads to more informed consumers and better matches, the anonymous design allows sellers to price discriminate and introduces competition between sellers whose markets would otherwise be segmented. We show that the comparison between the designs depends crucially on the relative importance of information about location vis-`a-vis information about variety. For an intermediate range, the anonymous design outperforms the revealing design in terms of both profits and welfare.

July 20, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

The Slogans and Goals of Antitrust Law

The Slogans and Goals of Antitrust Law

 

Herbert Hovenkamp

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School; University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School; University College London

 

Abstract

This is a comparative and historical examination of the slogans and goals most advocated for antitrust law today – namely, that antitrust should be concerned with “bigness,” that it should intervene when actions undermine the “competitive process,” or that it should be concerned about promoting some conception of economic welfare.

“Bigness” as an antitrust concern targets firms based on absolute size rather than share of a market, as antitrust traditionally has done. The bigness approach entails that antitrust cannot be concerned about low prices, or the welfare of consumers and labor. Nondominant firms could not sustain very high prices or cause significant reductions in market output. Concerns about bigness as such invariably translate into protection of small business, or of firms dedicated to older distribution methods of technologies. These firms can be injured by even nondominant rivals who have lower costs or more innovative supply.

The most important advantage of an antitrust policy of protecting the “competitive process” is the phrase’s rhetorical appeal. It invokes a classical liberal bias that sees process rather than substance as the key to good public decision making. However, classical liberalism reaches that point by beginning with a few bedrock substantive starting points, including protection of contract, property rights, and due process. No equivalent bedrock exists for the “competitive process.” As a result, people from the right and the left embrace it, and it cannot produce useful tools for decision making about competition issues. It operates as a slogan.

The history of antitrust welfare tests is rooted in neoclassical economics. Today, they are dominated by a “welfare tradeoff” model developed in the 1960s and a consumer welfare model, drawn mainly from antitrust’s statutory language and legislative history. Robert Bork did these tests severe damage by adopting a welfare tradeoff model and naming it “consumer welfare.” The confusion that ensued has corrupted the debate over antitrust goals ever since. It explains at least part of the reason that so many people today regard consumer welfare tests as toothless, identified with higher margins and lack of competitiveness.

Finally, while many speak of “consumer welfare” as an antitrust goal, “welfare” is rarely what they measure. Rather, they measure – or better, estimate – changes in output or changes in price. The best statement of a welfare test for antitrust is a policy of encouraging markets to produce maximum sustainable output.

July 19, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 18, 2022

Fighting Communism Supporting Collusion

We develop a simple model to explain why a powerful importer country like the United States may provide political support for international collusive agreements concerning certain commodities (e.g., coffee). This behavior raises questions due to the fact that an importer country should have strong economic incentives to avoid the cartelization of its suppliers. We show that an importer country sometimes helps producer countries organize and enforce collusion to advance important geopolitical goals, e.g., by reducing the chances that the producer countries will align with a rival global power (e.g., the Soviet Union). Moreover, using this practice, a powerful importer country can immediately share the cost of collusion with other importers (including allies). Thus, a powerful importer country may see collusion as a superior strategy to foreign aid (a priori a more direct and efficient instrument), which is riddled with free riding problems. The model sheds light on why the United States supported (or failed to support) international commodity agreements for coffee, sugar, and oil during and immediately after the Cold War period.

July 18, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Compass Lexecon Economics Conference – Call for papers Friday, 23 September 2022 at the Saïd Business School

Compass Lexecon invites paper submissions by those wishing to attend the Compass Lexecon Economics Conference to take place on Friday, 23 September 2022 at the Saïd Business School in Oxford, UK.

Conference details

The topic for the Compass Lexecon Economics Conference is “Recent developments in the economics of mergers, and the scope for novel techniques and analysis”.

The conference aims to provide a forum in which economists at government authorities, academic economists, and industry practitioners can exchange ideas on recent advances in empirical and theoretical academic work relevant to the economic analysis of mergers, recent practical experience in merger analysis, and new directions in methodology and approaches (e.g. use of machine learning and data science in merger analysis).

Merger control has become a highly debated topic in the past years as the concerns about the importance of competition in a fast-changing world have increased among different groups, including competition authorities, scholars, and practitioners. Merger control has played a crucial role in preserving innovation and consumer welfare throughout the fast-paced challenges of globalization and digitization, as well as unforeseen circumstances such as the Covid-19 global pandemic.

Recent global changes in competition regulation are a significant matter that affect the study of mergers from an academic and empirical perspective but also the practical analyses prepared by practitioners in the assessment of a potential merger. For example, the UK competition law enforcement has experienced a major strengthening of its authority post-Brexit and is adopting stricter guidelines when assessing mergers. Additionally, the European Commission has radically shifted its policies on using turnover-based thresholds to identify mergers relevant for competition. These new regulations mainly aim to target the fast-changing industries, such as pharmaceuticals and digital platforms, and prevent future “killer acquisitions”, for which the old competition policies have proven ineffective. Furthermore, competition agencies globally are pushing for stronger merger enforcement and the main players “are strongly encouraged to protect competition also when there is uncertainty raised by contentious mergers and to ensure the interests of consumers are promoted over the profits of the merging firms”.

The radical changes that have been made or that are to be implemented from competition authorities as a response to the significant technological advancements of the past years pose new challenges to be discussed among academics and practitioners in economics and allow for current and new approaches of merger assessment to be debated and further developed.

Paper submissions

Anyone wishing to be considered for attendance at the conference should submit an academic paper relevant to the conference topic. It is not a requirement that the paper is directly aimed at the analysis of mergers – we are happy to consider papers that are of a more general nature. However, we do prefer papers covering topics or methods which can have relevance to the economic analysis of mergers and related policy issues, for example papers on empirical methods in industrial organization, work in data science and machine learning which can be applied in merger analysis, work on market definition or other relevant theoretical work on firm and consumer behaviour.

We also welcome submissions of work in progress or incomplete papers, where the submission demonstrates that the work is sufficiently progressed to be presented.

Please submit your paper via email to EconConference@compasslexecon.com. No fee is charged for submissions.

Papers are accepted on a rolling basis, with the last date for submission being 29 July 2022. Authors will be notified about whether their paper has been accepted by 19 August 2022 at the latest.

For any questions regarding the conference or the paper submission process, please email EconConference@compasslexecon.com. For applicants selected to present at the conference, one night’s accommodation organised by Compass Lexecon as well as reasonable travel expenses up to £250 per person will be covered.

July 16, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 15, 2022

A Commentary on Presenting Efficiencies in a Horizontal Merger Review

A Commentary on Presenting Efficiencies in a Horizontal Merger Review

 

Malcolm B. Coate

Retired

Arthur DelBuono

Government of the United States of America - Federal Trade Commission

 

Abstract

The rise of unilateral effects analysis has significantly increased the importance of presenting a comprehensive review of the efficiencies relevant to a potentially problematic merger. Although numerous articles address efficiencies from a theoretical point of view, few practical commentaries exist. This paper provides an extensive discussion intended to aid firms in their efficiency presentations. A range of options for addressing the cognizability of efficiencies (focused on validity, verification, and merger specificity) and the balancing of anticompetitive effects with efficiencies are considered. Although the merging parties might not be able to fully evaluate every issue noted in this overview, a good faith effort to provide a comprehensive analysis should enhance the consideration given to their claims by the enforcement agency.

July 15, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Will Competition Reduce Attention Costs in Social Media?

Will Competition Reduce Attention Costs in Social Media?

Francesco Parisi

University of Minnesota - Law School; University of Bologna

Ram Singh

Delhi School of Economics - University of Delhi

Abstract

Unlike other monopolies, social media networks almost uniformly give access to their services for free to everybody. Economists refer to these markets as “zero-price markets.” The main, and often sole, source of revenue for the network owners comes from fees that are paid by advertisers. Network owners offer access to users in exchange for users’ attention to advertisements. Economists refer to these implicit market exchanges under the heading of “attention economy.” Regulatory solutions and antitrust remedies have been considered to foster consumer protection in the market economy. This paper investigates the conditions under which an increase in competition in the social media market would reduce the attention cost problem highlighted in the literature. Contrary to intuition, this paper shows that an increase in competition in the social media market could increase, rather than decrease, the attention costs imposed on users. Social media networks with monopoly power charge higher prices to advertisers to maximize their profit. Competition in the social media industry would lead to lower (competitive) prices for advertisers which lead to more advertising and higher attention costs imposed on users.

July 14, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Collusion between Vertical Hierarchies under Asymmetric Information

Collusion between Vertical Hierarchies under Asymmetric Information

Yaron Yehezkel

Coller School of Management , Tel-Aviv University

Abstract

The paper considers an infinitely repeated competition between vertical manufacturer-retailer hierarchies. In every period, retailers privately observe the demand, consequently manufacturers pay retailers “information rents”. I compare between several collusive equilibria that differ in the profits on which firms collude and in the level of retailers’ involvement. I find that including forward-looking retailers in the collusive scheme may facilitate or hinder collusion, depending on the likelihood of a high demand and the gap between a high and a low demand. Moreover, collusion on monopoly profits can be easier or more difficult to implement than collusion on upstream profits.

July 13, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)