Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

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

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Economics of Platforms: A Theory Guide for Competition Policy

BRUNO JULLIEN, University of Toulouse 1 - Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) and WILFRIED SAND‐ZANTMAN, University of Toulouse 1 - Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) offer The Economics of Platforms: A Theory Guide for Competition Policy.

ABSTRACT: Over the past 20 years, the development of the internet has transformed the global economy and had an impact on almost every aspect of our lives. Designed primarily as a means of communication, the internet has revolutionized the way we produce and exchange services and goods, whether they are digital or not. A simple comparison of the world’s most valuable companies in 2007 and in 2018 is a clear testimony of this change. Not only have standard brick-and-mortar firms progressively disappeared from the list, but companies of a new kind have emerged at the top. Since the development of computers in the 1990s, tech giants like Apple and Microsoft have taken over, at least partially, from more traditional firms operating in banking, insurance or the oil industry. But the past 15 years have seen another wave of companies – like Amazon, Alibaba, Baidu, Facebook, Google, Airbnb, Booking.com or Uber, to name a few – whose business model is mainly to facilitate interaction between individuals and/or businesses. These companies rely on different business models but they belong to the same general category, now known as platforms, and share many characteristics. The objective of this report is to discuss these common features in order to explain the functioning of markets with platforms. The main focus of this report will be on whether competition can be effective.

January 29, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Competition Law for the Digital Economy

Competition Law for the Digital Economy

Edited by Björn Lundqvist, Stockholm University, Sweden and Michal S. Gal, University of Haifa Faculty of Law, Israel
The digital economy is gradually gaining traction through a variety of recent technological developments, including the introduction of the Internet of things, artificial intelligence and markets for data. This innovative book contains contributions from leading competition law scholars who map out and investigate the anti-competitive effects that are developing in the digital economy.
Contents:

Preface
PART I GENERAL PERSPECTIVES ON COMPETITION POLICY AND THE APPLICATION OF TRADITIONAL TOOLS FOR THE DIGITAL ECONOMY
1 Regulating competition in the digital economy 2
Björn Lundqvist
2 Taming the shrew: is there a need for a new market power definition for the digital economy? 29
Hedvig K. Schmidt
3 Competition at the dawn of artificial intelligence 71
Robin C. Feldman and Nick Thieme
4 Competition by design 93
Simonetta Vezzoso

PART II CONDUCT THAT VIOLATES ANTITRUST AND THE INTERFACE BETWEEN DATA PROTECTION RULES, OTHER SECTOR-SPECIFIC RULES, AND COMPETITION LAW
5 Privacy-as-a-quality parameter of competition 126
Samson Y. Esayas
6 How to measure privacy-related consumer harm in merger analysis? 173
Elias Deutscher
7 Regulation complementing EU competition law in the digital economy 212
Juha Vesala
8 Online platforms and the Japan Fair Trade Commission: the DeNA case as an example of early market intervention 231
Steven Van Uytsel and Yoshiteru Uemura
9 The European Commission’s decision in Google Search 264
Konstantina Bania

PART III REMEDIES TO BE IMPOSED IN CASE OF RESTRICTION ON DIGITAL MARKETS
10 Consent-based case resolution 303
Katharina Voss
11 Antitrust governance in an era of rapid change 325
Stavros Makris
Index 365

January 28, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Event Studies in Merger Analysis: Review and an Application Using U.S. Tnic Data

Timo Klein, U Amsterdam shares Event Studies in Merger Analysis: Review and an Application Using U.S. Tnic Data.

ABSTRACT: There is a growing concern that U.S. merger control may have been too lenient, but empirical evidence remains limited. Event studies have been used as one method to acquire empirical insights into the competitive effects of mergers. However, existing work suffers from strong identifying assumptions, unreliable competitor identification or small samples. After reviewing the use and challenges of event studies in merger analysis, I use a novel application of Hoberg-Phillips (2010, 2016) Text-Based Network Industry Classification (TNIC) data to readily proxy a ranking of competitors to 1,751 of the largest U.S. mergers between 1997 and 2017. I document that following a merger announcement, the most likely competitors experience on average an abnormal return of around one percent. These abnormal returns are also associated with concerns of market power, which suggests that results are at least in part driven by an anticipation of anti-competitive effects, and hence insufficient merger control.

January 28, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Who Bears the Welfare Costs of Monopoly? The Case of the Credit Card Industry

Kyle F. Herkenhoff, Gajendran Raveendranathan ask Who Bears the Welfare Costs of Monopoly? The Case of the Credit Card Industry.

ABSTRACT: How are the welfare costs from monopoly distributed across U.S. households? We answer this question for the U.S. credit card industry, which is highly concentrated, charges interest rates that are 3.4 to 8.8 percentage points above perfectly competitive pricing, and has repeatedly lost antitrust lawsuits. We depart from existing competitive models by integrating oligopolistic lenders into a heterogeneous agent, defaultable debt framework. Our model accounts for 20 to 50 percent of the spreads observed in the data. Welfare gains from competitive reforms in the 1970s are equivalent to a one-time transfer worth between 0.24 and 1.66 percent of GDP. Along the transition path, 93 percent of individuals are better off. Poor households benefit from increased consumption smoothing, while rich households benefit from higher general equilibrium interest rates on savings. Transitioning from 1970 to 2016 levels of competition yields welfare gains equivalent to a one-time transfer worth between 1.87 and 3.20 percent of GDP. Lastly, homogeneous interest rate caps in 2016 deliver limited welfare gains.

January 28, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

From Pierre Fabre to Coty and Beyond: How Far Can Suppliers Ban Online Sales?

Yves Botteman and Daniel Barrio ask From Pierre Fabre to Coty and Beyond: How Far Can Suppliers Ban Online Sales?

ABSTRACT: How far can suppliers prevent their retailers from engaging in the online resale of their products in the EU? This question has been widely debated by courts, antitrust enforcers, and competition professionals following the European Court of Justice (CJEU) rulings in Pierre Fabre and Coty.

January 28, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 27, 2020

On the Law & Economics of the Android Case

Paolo Siciliani offers thoughts On the Law & Economics of the Android Case.

ABSTRACT:

  • The Android decision, specifically the tie of Google Play with Google Search, is best described as a case of anticompetitive creation of a position of dominance aimed at preserving an original position of dominance in an adjacent market

  • In practise, the defendant is prevented from preserving its core business model on a level playing field, thus raising the risks of false positives

  • The economic theory of harm put forward to underpin this infringement decision is incomplete, as it does not take into consideration the dynamic feature of the impugned conduct, specifically the fact that when the alleged tie was put in place the position of dominance in the tying market was far from certain

January 27, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Antitrust Law in Kosovo: Challenges in Following the EU Enforcement Jurisprudence

Industry Structure, Segmentation, and Competition in the U.S. Hotel Industry

R. Andrew Butters, Thomas N. Hubbard study Industry Structure, Segmentation, and Competition in the U.S. Hotel Industry.

ABSTRACT: This paper investigates how increases in concentration can be interrupted or reversed by changes in how firms compete on quality. We examine the U.S. hotel industry during the past half century. We document that starting in the early 1980s, quality competition came more in the form of costs that vary with hotel size, and less in the form of costs that are fixed with hotel size, particularly for business travelers. We then show that, consistent with Sutton (1991), industry structure has evolved differently since then in areas that are business travel versus personal travel destinations. Demand increases have been associated with more, but smaller, hotels in business travel destinations. In contrast, the growth in the number of hotels is much smaller, and the growth in average hotel size is much greater, in personal travel destinations. We provide evidence that this change reflects the emergence of two new classes of hotels – limited service and all-suites hotels – that did not exist before the early 1980s. These entrants – many of which had high quality rooms but which had limited out-of-room amenities – had a narrower competitive impact on other hotels than did the entrants of the 1960s and 1970s, which competed more on out-of-the-room amenities, and this led the industry structure to evolve differently.

January 27, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fútbol Club Barcelona v Commission: Foul Play—if in Doubt, the Commission to Question the Evidence Submitted by the Parties

Jan Przerwa and Jon Polanec describe Fútbol Club Barcelona v Commission: Foul Play—if in Doubt, the Commission to Question the Evidence Submitted by the Parties.

ABSTRACT: The General Court rules that the Commission should investigate beyond the evidence submitted by the parties if it is in possession of documents calling that evidence into question.

January 27, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 24, 2020

Indian Competition Law

M.M. Sharma (Vaish Associates) has written on "Role of Courts in Enforcement of Competition Law in India"  which was published simultaneously both in the Global Competition Litigation Review , ( 2019 Volume 12, Issue 2/ 2019) as well as in the European Competition Law Review ,( Volume 40  Issue 7  2019)The articles can be cited as : (2019) G.C.L.R., Issue 2 © Thomson Reuters & Contributors ( Pp.57-74) and (2019) 40  E.C.L.R. Issue 7© 2019 Thomson Reuters & Contributors (Pp.312-331) . 

Download Article-Role of courts in enforcement of competition law in India- ECLR-July 2019

Download Article-Role of Courts in Enforcement of Competition Law in India - GCLR-2019 Volume-12

 

January 24, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

No Forum to Rule Them All: Comity and Conflict in Transnational FRAND Disputes October 31, 2019 | 94 Wash. L. Rev. 1085

Eli Greenbaum surveys No Forum to Rule Them All: Comity and Conflict in Transnational FRAND Disputes.

Abstract:  Recent years have seen an explosion in FRAND litigation, in which parties commit to license intellectual property under “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) terms, but they cannot agree on the meaning of that commitment. Much of this litigation is multinational and involves coordinating patent, antitrust, and contract claims across several jurisdictions. A number of courts and commentators have aimed to centralize and thereby streamline these disputes, whether by consolidating all litigation in one judicial forum or through the creation of a comprehensive arbitral process. This Article argues that such efforts are misguided—FRAND disputes are particularly unamenable to centralization, and the costs of centralizing FRAND disputes are high. Rather, absent other agreement between the parties, FRAND disputes should be resolved through the ordinary territorial structures of patent law, and attempts to simplify these disputes should focus on procedural and substantive coordination across jurisdictions.

January 24, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Effect of Leniency Rule on Cartel Formation and Stability: Experiments with Open Communication

Maximilian Andres, University of PotsdamLisa Bruttel, Humboldt University of Berlin, Jana Friedrichsen, German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin); Humboldt University of Berlin - Faculty of Economics  explore The Effect of Leniency Rule on Cartel Formation and Stability: Experiments with Open Communication.

ABSTRACT: Cartels can severely harm social welfare. Competition authorities introduced leniency rules to destabilize existing cartels and hinder the formation of new ones. Empirically, it is difficult to judge the success of these measures because functioning cartels are unobservable. Existing experimental studies confirm that a leniency rule indeed reduces cartelization. We extend these studies by having a participant in the role of the competition authority actively participating in the experiment. Based on chat communication content and price setting behavior, this authority judges whether firms formed a cartel and decides on fines in real time. We find that a leniency rule does not affect cartelization in this setup.

January 24, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Call for Papers: 18th ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATION CONFERENCE Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania May 1-3, 2020

The 18th ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATION CONFERENCE
Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
May 1-3, 2020
 
The deadline for paper submissions is January 29, 2020.
 
The 2020 International Industrial Organization Conference, sponsored by the Industrial
Organization Society and its affiliated journal, the Review of Industrial Organization, will be 
held May 1-3 at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The conference will include panel discussions and contributed sessions on all topics in industrial organization including antitrust economics and regulation. 
 
We are pleased to announce that Margaret Slade will receive the Distinguished Service Award and that Michael Riordan will receive the Distinguished Fellow Award.

The conference will also include two plenary sessions:
  • Mark Armstrong (Oxford) and Alessandro Gavazza (London School of Economics) will discuss their contributions to theoretical and empirical research on search and matching markets.
  • Jean-Francoise Houde (Wisconsin) and Jakub Kastl (Princeton) will provide an overview of research on the industrial organization of banks and financial markets.
To submit a paper, please visit:
                                         http://editorialexpress.com/conference/IIOC2020

DEADLINES:
Paper submissions through the web link above will be accepted through January 29, 2020
There is no submission fee.  Decisions will be announced by February 21, 2020.  Paper 
presenters must register by March 3, 2020.  Non-presenters may register up to April 20, 2020. There will be no on-site registration.

Again this year, the Industrial Organization Society is pleased to award the following two prizes which include an honorarium of $2,500.  To be considered for one of the prizes, completed papers must be uploaded to the conference web site by January 29, 2020.
  • The 12th annual University of Florida Robert F. Lanzillotti Prize will be awarded for the best paper in antitrust economics.
  • The 12th annual University of Florida Public Utility Research Center Prize will be awarded for the best paper in regulatory economics
RISING STAR SESSIONS:  The Friday evening session will be devoted to the best graduate students presenting their research. Session chairs and discussants will be established Industrial Organization scholars. All graduate students are encouraged to submit their papers to these highly select sessions which offer a great opportunity to receive feedback on one's work and to meet with established researchers in the field. Graduate students must submit only to the Rising Star/Graduate Student session area.
 
SPONSORED SESSIONS:  This year there will be several sessions devoted to frontier topics that are jointly selected by the IOS Board and a company working on issues related to Industrial Organization. You may apply directly to present in one of these sessions, but all conference submissions related to these topics will be considered for inclusion in these sessions. Papers will be independently selected by the Program Committee. 
 
To date, session sponsors include Matrix Economics, Microsoft Research, Analysis Group, Google, Charles River Associates, Cornerstone, Amazon and NERA Economic Consulting. Sponsored session topics as of this date include:
  • Antitrust Issues in Health Care (Analysis Group)
  • The impact of artificial intelligence, big data and technology automation on organizations, markets, and the future of work (Microsoft)
  • The Value of Data (Google)
  • New Research in Antitrust Economics (Cornerstone)
CONFERENCE GUIDELINES:  Accepted papers are to be presented by the individual submitting the paper.  Paper acceptances are also conditional on the submitter's willingness to serve as a discussant in another session of the conference. If you wish to propose a full session, contact the Program Chair, Federico Ciliberto at fc3p@virginia.edu.
PROGRAM COMMITTEE:   The Program Committee is chaired by Federico Ciliberto, University of Virginia.
 
Panle Jia Barwick (Cornell University), Matthew Backus (Columbia University), Emek Basker (US Census Bureau), Jay Choi (Michigan State University), Robert Clark (Queens University), Alon Eizenberg (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Silke Forbes (Tufts University), Matthew Grennan (University of Pennsylvania), Jean Francois Houde (University of Wisconsin), Jordi Jaumandreu, (Boston University), Myrto Kalouptsidi (Harvard University), Elena Krasnotskaya (John Hopkins University), Margaret Kyle (Center for Industrial Economics, MINES ParisTech), Matthew Lewis (Clemson University), Eugenio Miravete (University of Texas at Austin), Nathan Miller (Georgetown University), Eduardo Morales (Princeton University), Mar Reguant (Northwestern University), Seth Richards-Shubik (Lehigh University), Mark Roberts (Penn State University), Henry Schneider (Queens University), Katja Seim (Yale University), Konstantinos Serfes (Drexel University), Gloria Sheu (Federal Reserve Board), Michelle Sovinsky (University of Mannheim), Yossi Spiegel (Tel Aviv University), Otto Toivanen (Aalto University), Sofia Berto Villa-Boas (UC Berkeley), Nathan Wilson (FTC), and Mo Xiao (University of Arizona).

FURTHER INFORMATION: 
The conference website https://cssh.northeastern.edu/iioc/ will provide updated registration, hotel and schedule information. The preliminary conference program will be posted there by April 3, 2020.
 
We look forward to receiving your submissions and to seeing you in Philly.
 
Best wishes for a Happy New Year!
 
Federico Ciliberto
Program Committee Chair
 
Kathy Downey
IIOC Conference Coordinator

January 23, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Merger Policy in Digital Markets: An Ex-Post Assessment

Elena Argentesi University of Bologna - Department of Economics Paolo Buccirossi Independent Emilio Calvano University of Bologna - Department of Economics; University of Toulouse 1 - Department of Economics; CSEF - Center for Studies in Economics and Finance Tomaso Duso German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin); TU Berlin- Faculty of Economics and Management - Empirical Industrial Organization Alessia Marrazzo Lear - Laboratory of Economics, Antitrust, Regulation Salvatore Nava Lear - Laboratory of Economics, Antitrust, Regulation have produced Merger Policy in Digital Markets: An Ex-Post Assessment.

ABSTRACT: This paper presents a broad retrospective evaluation of mergers and merger decisions in the digital sector. We first discuss the most crucial features of digital markets such as network effects, multi-sidedness, big data, and rapid innovation that create important challenges for competition policy. We show that these features have been key determinants of the theories of harm in major merger cases in the past few years. We then analyse the characteristics of almost 300 acquisitions carried out by three major digital companies – Amazon, Facebook, and Google – between 2008 and 2018. We cluster target companies on their area of economic activity and show that they span a wide range of economic sectors. In most cases, their products and services appear to be complementary to those supplied by the acquirers. Moreover, target companies seem to be particularly young, being four-years-old or younger in nearly 60% of cases at the time of the acquisition. Finally, we examine two important merger cases, Facebook/Instagram and Google/Waze, providing a systematic assessment of the theories of harm considered by the UK competition authorities as well as evidence on the evolution of the market after the transactions were approved. We discuss whether the CAs performed complete and careful analyses to foresee the competitive consequences of the investigated mergers and whether a more effective merger control regime can be achieved within the current legal framework.

January 23, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bill Baer joins Brookings

See the press release here.

January 23, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Antitrust and Coopservice: Procurement Aggregation is A Serious Thing (Adjudicating Too)

Manuel Peláez Muras Autonomous University of Madrid ; Banco de España  studies Antitrust and Coopservice: Procurement Aggregation is A Serious Thing (Adjudicating Too).

ABSTRACT:

Antritrust and Coopservice (judgment of 19 December 2018, case C-216/17) is a peculiar product of the Court of Justice. It is one of a kind in aggregate procurement, a subfield of public procurement that has remained virtually untouched by the Court. A number of very helpful and reasonable directions can be drawn from this judgment with respect to the duration and quantification of framework agreements as well as the identification of the authorities entitled to use them in the case of framework agreements concluded jointly by several authorities. At the same time, it is not a model of adjudication, incurring in some inaccuracies, obvious mistakes, and even unkindness to the referring national court. This surely make it more enjoyable to read and comment. The present paper shows the slips of the Court, while highlighting the main directions that can be extracted vis-à-vis the opera-tion of framework agreements and joint contracts.

January 23, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

TRANSACTION VERSUS NON-TRANSACTION PLATFORMS: A FALSE DICHOTOMY IN TWO-SIDED MARKET DEFINITION

Gunnar Niels  offers TRANSACTION VERSUS NON-TRANSACTION PLATFORMS: A FALSE DICHOTOMY IN TWO-SIDED MARKET DEFINITION.

ABSTRACT: When it comes to market definition in two-sided markets, an idea that has gained traction—among academics, competition authorities and even the US Supreme Court—is the distinction between transaction and non-transaction platforms. However, this distinction has no theoretical underpinning in the context of the hypothetical monopolist test (HMT). The hypothetical monopolist sets profit-maximising prices on both sides, as a function of own-price elasticities and externalities between the sides, regardless of whether the platform is transaction or non-transaction. I address the various theoretical and practical arguments put forward in support of the distinction between transaction and non-transaction and explain why none of these justify a different approach to market definition. I also discuss why some of the policy suggestions made by proponents of the distinction—for example, that a single market should be defined for transaction platforms but separate markets for non-transaction platforms—reflect some confusion about how the HMT works.

January 23, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Anticompetitive Object/Effect: An Overview of EU and National Case Law

Csongor István Nagy, University of Szeged, Faculty of Law describes Anticompetitive Object/Effect: An Overview of EU and National Case Law.

ABSTRACT: Anticompetitive object is a key notion of EU competition law and is being remolded. This paper presents the trajectory of this process and its impact and demonstrates how this impaired the consistency and predictability of competition analysis. Section 2 gives a concise presentation of an idealized form of the pre-Allianz concept. Section 3 examines the new doctrine’s emergence in Allianz. This is followed by a presentation of its ephemeral marginalization in Cartes bancaires, MasterCard and „Maxima Latvija” (Section 4), where the Court interpreted this doctrine very restrictively and suggested that it may be used on very rare occasions, and its surge in Hoffmann-La Roche & Novartis (Section 5), where the Court failed to resists the siren song of anti-competitive object and showed how the doctrine may erode the pre-existing categories. Section 6 takes stock of the damages caused by the Allianz doctrine to consistency in object-analysis.

January 22, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Printeos: Obligation to Pay Default Interest When Repaying a Fine after Annulment

Gonçalo Banha Coelho addresses Printeos: Obligation to Pay Default Interest When Repaying a Fine after Annulment.

ABSTRACT: The General Court ruled that, in case of annulment of a cartel decision based on an inadequate statement of reasons, in addition to repaying the fine amount received, the Commission must pay default interests at the ECB refinancing rate increased by 3.5 percentage points since the date on which the applicant unduly made provisional payment of the fine in accordance with the principle of restitutio in integrum.

January 22, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Effect of Potential Entrants on Audit Market Competition

Devin Williams, University of Illinois; University of Florida investigates The Effect of Potential Entrants on Audit Market Competition.

ABSTRACT: Concerns regarding a lack of competition in the market for public-company audits focus on Big Four audit firms. Little concern has been raised regarding Non-Big Four firms, yet we know little about competition and barriers to entry in this market. Prior studies only consider competition from audit firms that already have public-company clients. I examine the role of potential entrants – PCAOB registered audit firms with no public clients – as an additional source of competition that can affect the quality and pricing of small firms in the public-company audit market. I find that audit quality increases and audit fees decrease for clients of Non-Big Four auditors when competition from potential entrants increases. Collectively, the results inform regulators and academics of the role potential entrants play in improving the financial reporting environment.

January 22, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)