Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Interlocking Directorates in the European Union: An Argument for Their Restriction

Vidir Petersen, University of Iceland identifies Interlocking Directorates in the European Union: An Argument for Their Restriction.

ABSTRACT: The EU Commission has recently undertaken a review of the EU Merger Regulation. In this process it has published a White Paper that proposes to extend the Regulation to cover situations in which firms acquire minority shareholding in their competitors. However, the White Paper is silent about the closely related phenomenon of interlocking directorates (interlocks), which occurs when the same person sits on the board of two firms. This issue has never been directly addressed by the European Union, perhaps because the theory of interlocks is underdeveloped in Europe. This paper provides comprehensive antitrust arguments for why the EU should restrict certain interlocking activity. The main argument is that the EU should prohibit horizontal interlocks (interlocks between competing firms) per se, as they raise serious antitrust concerns. The paper further argues that non-horizontal interlocks should be monitored, and it addresses certain important policy questions that the EU might face when designing the regulatory framework.

December 31, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What Structural Presumption? Reuniting Evidence and Economics on the Role of Market Concentration in Horizontal Merger Analysis

Sean Patrick Sullivan, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission; University of Virginia - Department of Economics asks What Structural Presumption? Reuniting Evidence and Economics on the Role of Market Concentration in Horizontal Merger Analysis.

ABSTRACT: In horizontal merger analysis, the “structural presumption” is a proposition standing for the typical illegality of mergers combining rival firms with large shares of the same relevant market. Courts and commentators are rarely precise in their use of the word “presumption,” however, and discussion of the structural presumption suffers from foundational uncertainty about what kind of presumption the proposition actually entails. The potential choices are as follows: it could be (1) a presumption in the sense of a substantive factual inference based on economic theory, or (2) a presumption in the sense of a procedural device for artificially shifting the burden of production at trial. This paper argues that the substantive factual inference approach is the better reading of caselaw and the sounder application of the laws of antitrust and evidence. By instead treating the structural presumption as a burden-shifting legal presumption, modern merger analysis needlessly complicates the use of market concentration evidence and systematically undervalues the actual probative weight of this evidence. In this context, a formal legal presumption confers weaker evidentiary weight than a simple substantive inference.

December 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rebates and Article 102 TFEU: The European Commission's Duty to Apply the Guidance Paper

Nicolas Petit, University of Liege - School of Law describes Rebates and Article 102 TFEU: The European Commission's Duty to Apply the Guidance Paper.

Abstract: This paper shows that the European Union (EU) courts' case-law and general principles of EU law place the European Commission (“Commission”) under a duty to apply the Guidance Communication on Enforcement Priorities (“Guidance Paper”) in abuse of dominance cases started after its adoption. This duty includes the obligation to test Article 102 TFEU cases under the As Efficient Competitor (“AEC”) framework, as set out in the 2009 Guidance Paper. The judgments handed down by the Union courts in Intel v Commission and Post Danmark II do not alter in any way the Commission’s “self binding” duty to apply the Guidance Paper. If the Commission wishes to depart from the AEC framework, it must officially withdraw its Guidance Paper.

 

December 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Free from What? Competition, Regulation and Antitrust During the Gilded Age

Nicola Giocoli, University of Pisa asks Free from What? Competition, Regulation and Antitrust During the Gilded Age.

ABSTRACT: As the embodiment of classical competition, freedom of contract was still a fundamental notion for the American economists of the Gilded Age. For this reason, it played a key role in the controversies about competition and regulation that agitated the US legal and political landscape between 1880 and 1910, following the dramatic rise in industrial size and concentration. The essay argues that when debating about the good and the bad of a free market system vis-à-vis government interference, American jurists and politicians were actually referring to the freedom of contract ideal developed by the Classics and still endorsed by most economists of the time.

December 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Revisiting the Concept of Undertaking from a Public Procurement Law Perspective – A Discussion on EasyPay and Finance Engineering

Albert Sanchez-Graells, University of Bristol Law School and Ignacio Herrera Anchustegui, University of Bergen - Faculty of Law are Revisiting the Concept of Undertaking from a Public Procurement Law Perspective – A Discussion on EasyPay and Finance Engineering.

ABSTRACT: In EasyPay and Finance Engineering (C-185/14), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has revisited the concept of undertaking for the purposes of the application of EU competition law. It has clarified the test applicable to economic agents engaging in ‘mixed’ economic and non-economic activities. The EasyPay test determines that, in order not to be qualified as “economic” because of its links with another activity that fulfils an exclusively social function based on the principle of solidarity and entirely non-profit making, an activity must, by its nature, its aims and the rules to which it is subject, be inseparably connected to it. In the paper, we discuss how the CJEU has arguably given a stricter interpretation and adopted a less lenient approach to the severability or separation of activities than in previous cases like FENIN, Selex or Compass-Datenbank. In our view, this interpretation is anchored on a functional analysis of the concept of undertaking, and it is a welcome development that will have far reaching implications.

Beyond that general discussion, the paper focuses on the potential implications of the EasyPay test in the area of public procurement and, in particular, for the activities of central purchasing bodies. We submit that EasyPay facilitates a revision of the current position regarding the direct applicability of EU competition law to entities carrying out public procurement activities and, in particular, central purchasing bodies. We also submit that this is highly desirable because it grants legal certainty to economic operators when dealing with a central purchasing body, to the effect that the purchasing activities will be under competition law and the derived constrains on the market behaviour of large public buyers that may abuse of their buyer power.

December 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 28, 2015

2016 Next Generation of Antitrust Scholars Conference

Back for the fourth time - 2016 Next Generation of Antitrust Scholars Conference.

Register here (so that we know how much food to order).

 

2016 Next Generation of Antitrust Scholars Conference

 

Friday, January 22, 2016
NYU School of Law
108 West 3rd Street
Lipton Hall


Conference Co-sponsors
NYU School of Law
American Bar Association, Section of Antitrust Law

Conference Co-organizers
Edward Cavanagh, St. John's University School of Law
Harry First, NYU School of Law
D. Daniel Sokol, University of Florida Levin College of Law

Abstract
The purpose of this day-long conference is to provide an opportunity for antitrust/competition law professors who began their full time professorial career in or after September 2008 to present their latest research. Senior antitrust scholars and practitioners in the field will comment on the papers.

Registration
Free and open to the public. NY CLE credits are available to attendees. For registration and more information visit the ABA Section of Antitrust Law.

Agenda

08:20 – 08:50am         Registration and Continental Breakfast

08:50 – 09:00am         Introductory Comments

09:00 – 10:45am         Session 1: Institutional Issues I

Session Chair: Stephen Houck, Menaker & Herrmann

Presenter: Maciej Bernatt, University of Warsaw
The Judicial Review of FTC Decisions: Any Lessons for Europe?
Discussant: Andrew Gavil, Howard University School of Law

Presenter: Rebecca Haw Allensworth, Vanderbilt University Law School
New Antitrust Federalism
Discussant: Jonathan Baker, American University Washington College of Law

Presenter: Angela Zhang, King’s College London
The Faceless Court
Discussant: Harry First, NYU School of Law

Presenter: Matthew Jennejohn, Brigham Young University Law School
Innovation and the Design of Antitrust Institutions
Discussant: Spencer Waller, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Practitioner Discussant: Stacey Mahoney, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

10:45 – 11:00am         Break

11:00 – 12:45pm         Session 2: Antitrust Economics

Session Chair: Richard Steuer, Mayer Brown

Presenter: Felix Chang, University of Cincinnati College of Law
Vertical Integration in Derivatives Markets
Discussant: Tim Wu, Columbia Law School

Presenter: Murat Mungan, Florida State University College of Law
Sharing of Cost Related Information Can Increase Consumer Welfare Under Risk-aversion
Discussant: Larry White, NYU Stern School of Business

Presenter: Yong Chao, University of Louisville Department of Economics
All-Units Discounts as a Partial Foreclosure Device
Discussant: Luis Cabral, NYU Stern School of Business

Presenter: D. Daniel Sokol, University of Florida Levin College of Law
Policy Innovations, Political Preferences, and Cartel Prosecutions
Discussant: Christopher Sprigman, NYU School of Law

Practitioner Discussant: W. Dale Collins, Shearman & Sterling

12:45 – 1:45pm             Lunch

Keynote Address: Jonathan Jacobson, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; Incoming ABA Section of Antitrust Chair
The Role of Academia in Antitrust

1:45 – 3:05pm             Session 3: Antitrust and Intellectual Property

Session Chair: Steven Edwards, Hogan Lovells

Presenter: Daryl Lim, John Marshall Law School
Patent Holdups
Discussant: Scott Hemphill, NYU School of Law

Presenter: Liza Vertinsky, Emory University School of Law
Pre-Competition
Discussant: Hillary Greene, University of Connecticut School of Law

Presenter: Ramsi Woodcock, Georgia State University J. Mack Robinson College of Business
Innovation and Reverse Payments
Discussant: Michael Carrier, Rutgers School of Law - Camden

Practitioner Discussant: Eric Stock, NY AG Office

3:05 – 3:30pm             Break

3:30 – 5:00pm             Session 4: Institutional Issues II

Session Chair: Elizabeth Prewitt, Hughes Hubbard & Reed

Presenter: Marek Martyniszyn, Queen’s University Belfast
Foreign State’s Entanglement in Anticompetitive Conduct
Discussant: Edward Cavanaugh, St. John’s University School of Law

Presenter: Niamh Dunne, London School of Economics
Ratemaking through EU Law: Competition Law and Regulatory Approaches
Discussant: Mark Patterson, Fordham University School of Law

Presenter: Avirup Bose, Jindal Global Law School
Institutional Design in India’s Competition Law
Discussant: Eleanor Fox, NYU School of Law

Practitioner Discussant: Lisl Dunlop, Manatt Phelps & Phillips 

5:00 – 5:30pm             Cocktail Reception

December 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Negotiation of Settlements and Remedies in Young Agencies: The Mexican Experience

Carlos Mena-Labarthe, Government of Mexico - Comision Federal de Competencia; Instituto Tecnológico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM) offers Negotiation of Settlements and Remedies in Young Agencies: The Mexican Experience.

ABSTRACT:

Young competition agencies face many challenges in order to consolidate a sound competition policy. This paper discusses remedies and its negotiation as valuable tools for emerging competition authorities. Along these lines, the paper will try to address the many edges that the settlement and negotiation of remedies entail. In the particular case of young competition agencies, their short expertise in these matters poses difficulties to set criteria and evaluate the effectiveness of the remedial measures imposed or accepted over the time. Furthermore, agencies will usually have to outweigh vital strategic institutional elements such as legitimacy, credibility and deterrence when implementing a settlement policy. The Mexican competition regime is relatively new, compared to other jurisdictions. This paper will take advantage of its experience to exemplify the arguments hereby established. The development of thorough analysis of the possible solutions to address competition concerns and the importance of setting standards in order to generate predictability and certainty are some of the challenges the Commission has faced. Moreover, the design and negotiation of remedies regarding the new market investigation procedures will also be discussed. Finally, the paper will conclude outlining some recommendations for young agencies to develop a long-run remedies and settlements' policy.

December 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The European Internal Market and Innovation: The Challenges Ahead

Alberto Heimler, Government of the Italian Republic (Italy) - National School of Administration addresses The European Internal Market and Innovation: The Challenges Ahead.

ABSTRACT: The purpose of the European internal market is to allow all firms in the Union to compete freely, without artificial barriers built up to protect them. The Treaty provisions and the subsequent case law are quite comprehensive and they are meant to eliminate restrictive regulatory barriers, anticompetitive practices by firms and anticompetitive subsidies. However, especially with respect to State measures (restrictive regulatory provisions and State aid) the results that are achieved by the Union depend strictly on the follow on policies that are adopted by Member States. Sometimes such policies are mandated. For example in public procurement European law deals mainly with adjudication (and only above a given threshold), while Member States are responsible for execution and sanctioning (and also adjudication below the threshold). Furthermore, in the process of reform of public utilities, liberalizations decided at the European level have to be followed up by coherent decisions at the Member State level. If such Member State interventions are not well thought out, the whole purpose of the reforms collapses. And indeed in public utilities, the European Union started in the 1990s by providing some very general indications to Member States and eventually, having recognized that markets were not sufficiently opened up, making its indications more and more stringent (but still leaving most of the responsibility of reform to Member States). Recently the Service Directive has extended this approach to liberalization to the general category of service activities. The Directive identified regulatory provisions that were prohibited and those that had to be justified by Member States. However the Directive did not introduce general categories of regulatory restriction to be justified, and instead chose to identify them precisely, falling short of providing an all-comprehensive list. A very effective revision of the Directive would be to introduce explicitly in the text the general categories of regulatory restrictions contained in the OECD Toolkit for Competition impact assessment (is the number of players restricted? Is their possibility to compete restricted? Are their incentives to compete restricted?). Should regulations have these effects, Member States would have to justify them. The regulatory reform that would be initiated in this way would promote the introduction of an innovation friendly regulatory structure.

December 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Most SSRN downloaded full time antitrust law professors of 2015

These are the most SSRN downloaded antitrust law full time faculty based on the posting of an antitrust paper from 2011 to the present.  Not all of the faculty write exclusively in antitrust and in some cases, they predominantly write in another field.

Revised 12/28/15

Further revised 1/10/16

Name

Institution

Downloads in 2015 (based on December 28, 2015 numbers)

Mark Lemley

Stanford

17,184

Herb Hovenkamp

Iowa

7,163

Tim Wu

Columbia

6,743

Josh Wright

George Mason

4,592

Jim Chen

Michigan State

4,191

Christopher Yoo

Penn

4,010

Michael Carrier

Rutgers

3,859

Maurice Stucke

Tennessee

3,514

Daniel Sokol

Florida

3,453

Robin Feldman

Hastings

3,186

Einer Elhauge

Harvard

2,899

Jorge Contreras

Utah

2,706

Kathy Spier

Harvard

2,327

Robert Lande

Baltimore

2,253

Anca Chirita        

Barak Orbach

Durham

Arizona

2,193

2,119

Ioannis Lianos

UCL

1,958

David Hyman

Illinois

1,949

Scoot Hemphil

NYU

1,928

Doug Ginsburg

George Mason

1,900

Spencer Waller

Chicago Loyola

1,892

Louis Kaplow

Harvard

1,849

 

 

December 27, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Effective European Antitrust: Does EC Merger Policy Generate Deterrence?

Joseph A. Clougherty, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Tomaso Duso, German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin); Duesseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE), Miyu Lee, Humboldt University of Berlin - School of Business and Economics, and Jo Seldeslachts, University of Amsterdam; Tinbergen Institute ask Effective European Antitrust: Does EC Merger Policy Generate Deterrence?

ABSTRACT: We estimate the deterrence effects of European Commission (EC) merger policy instruments over the 1990-2009 period. Our empirical results suggest that phase-1 remedies uniquely generate robust deterrence as – unlike phase-1 withdrawals, phase-2 remedies, and preventions – phase-1 remedies lead to fewer merger notifications in subsequent years. Furthermore, the deterrence effects of phase-1 remedies work best in high-concentration industries; i.e., industries where the HHI is above the 0.2 cut-off level employed by the EC. Additionally, we find that phase-1 remedies do not deter clearly pro-competitive mergers, but do deter potentially anti-competitive mergers in high-concentration industries.

December 25, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Can Entry or Exit Event Studies Inform Horizontal Merger Analysis? Evidence from Grocery Retailing

Daniel S. Hosken, Government of the United States of America - Federal Trade Commission Luke Olson, Federal Trade Commission, and Loren K. Smith, Compass Lexecon ask Can Entry or Exit Event Studies Inform Horizontal Merger Analysis? Evidence from Grocery Retailing.

ABSTRACT: This study estimates how prices change following the entry and exit of grocery retailers. We estimate the effects of entry (exit) by comparing affected markets to a set of unaffected markets using both a difference‐in‐difference estimator and a synthetic control estimator. We find that entry typically results in reduced prices. More surprisingly, we find that exit is frequently associated with falling prices. Our estimated effects of entry on grocery prices are similar in magnitude to estimates of merger price effects in the supermarket industry. This finding suggests that entry event studies may be a useful tool for horizontal merger analysis.

December 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

CADE launches English version of the draft FAQ on the Leniency Program

CADE launches English version of the draft FAQ on the Leniency Program
 
18/12/2015

The Administrative Council for Economic Defense – CADE launched, on December 18th 2015, the English version of the draft Frequently Asked Questions on the agency’s Antitrust Leniency Program. The FAQ comprehends the best practices and proceedings usually adopted by CADE’s General Superintendence when negotiating and signing leniency agreements. The Portuguese version was published in November 2015.

The FAQ represents a milestone in the history of the Leniency Program in Brazil, reflecting CADE’s experience with leniency agreements negotiations built in the past 15 years, in line with the international best practices. The general objective of the document is to strengthen and expand CADE’s Leniency Program, increasing transparency and legal certainty on the negotiation rules and proceedings.

The document was drafted in a Q&A format, explaining in a clear and direct way the general aspects of CADE’s Leniency Program, and the main steps in the negotiation and execution of the agreement.

Although the FAQ is not binding, a significant part of its content stems directly from Law No. 12.529/2011 and CADE’s Internal Statute (Regimento Interno do CADE – RICADE), which are both binding. The document aims at preserving institutional memory, providing interpretation of the existing norms, and serving as a reference to leniency agreements negotiations.


Public Consultation

With the publication of the English version of the draft FAQ on CADE’s Antitrust Leniency Program, the deadline for comments by the society and other institutions and competition authorities was extended until February 10th 2016.

Contributions should be sent to guialeniencia@cade.gov.br.

December 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS IN EUROPEAN AND NORTH AMERICAN ENERGY MARKETS: EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS OF LEGAL AND OWNERSHIP UNBUNDLING

Stefan Bogner, WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business) Stephan M. Gasser, WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business) and Margarethe Rammerstorfer, MODUL University Vienna, Department of International Management discuss MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS IN EUROPEAN AND NORTH AMERICAN ENERGY MARKETS: EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS OF LEGAL AND OWNERSHIP UNBUNDLING.

ABSTRACT: Competition and antitrust law aims to prevent companies from engaging in anti-competitive behavior and to promote and protect market competition. In this context, mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are under particular scrutiny, since they are often assumed to be motivated by possible market power increases, thus adversely affecting market efficiency. With a view to recent efforts within the European Union to increase the effectiveness of competition law in the energy sector (that is, legal and ownership unbundling as policy tools geared towards forcing corporations into demerging transactions), an event study approach is applied in this article to evaluate the market response to the announcement of mergers and acquisitions in EU and U.S. energy markets and to determine whether or not the hypothesis that M&As result in increased market power of the joined companies actually holds true. Findings indicate that increases in market power are not the main motive for energy market M&As. The results thus oppose the general adequacy of legal and ownership unbundling as veritable competition law instruments against market imperfections and failures, but indicate that unbundling can indeed be a viable policy solution if implemented on a case-by-case basis.

December 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Optimal Product Variety in Radio Markets

Steven Berry (Cowles Foundation, Yale University) ; Alon Eizenberg (Dept. of Economics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem) ;and Joel Waldfogel (Carlson School, University of Minnesota) think about Optimal Product Variety in Radio Markets.

ABSTRACT: A vast theoretical literature shows that inefficient market structures may arise in free entry equilibria. Previous empirical work demonstrated that excessive entry may obtain in local radio markets. Our paper extends that literature by relaxing the assumption that stations are symmetric, allowing instead for endogenous station differentiation along both (observed) horizontal and (unobserved) vertical dimensions. We find that, in most broadcasting formats, a social planner who takes into account the welfare of market participants (stations and advertisers) would eliminate 50%-60% of the stations observed in equilibrium. In 80%-94.9% of markets that have high quality stations in the observed equilibrium, welfare could be unambiguously improved by converting one such station into low quality broadcasting. In contrast, it is never unambiguously welfare-enhancing to convert an observed low quality station into a high quality one. This suggests local over-prov! ision of quality in the observed equilibrium, in addition to the finding of excessive entry.

December 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Competitive pricing strategies in social networks

Chen, Ying-Ju ; Zenou, Yves ; Zhou, Junjie think about Competitive pricing strategies in social networks.

ABSTRACT: We study pricing strategies of competing firms who sell heterogeneous products to a group of customers in a social network. Goods are substitutes and each customer gains network externalities from her neighbors who consume the same products. We show that there is a unique subgame-perfect equilibrium where, first, firms choose the prices of each good for each consumer, and, then, individuals decide their consumption of the goods. We also fully characterize the equilibrium prices for any network structure, and relate these equilibrium outcomes to the familiar Katz-Bonacich network centrality measures. Contrary to the monopoly case, the equilibrium price of a customer not only depends on her own characteristics but also on others' characteristics. We show that firms price discriminate and charge lower prices to more central consumers. This means that more central consumers obtain a larger discount because of their impact in terms of consumption on their neighbors. We also show that the firms' equilibrium profits can decrease when either the network becomes denser or network effects are higher.

December 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Search and Price Dispersion in Online Grocery markets

Timothy Richards (Arizona State University) ; Stephen Hamilton (Department of Economics, California Polytechnic State University) ;William Allender (McMaster University) examine Search and Price Dispersion in Online Grocery markets.

ABSTRACT: Prices for similar products often differ between retail outlets, leading consumers to actively search for products that meet their needs at the lowest possible price. Prices differ among retailers, and search intensity differs among consumers because search is a costly activity and consumers differ in their costs of search. How variety and the multiproduct nature of retailing affect search costs, search intensity, and the dispersion of prices, however, is not well understood. In this paper, we use online grocery pricing data form four retailers in the UK to estimate search costs and equilibrium price dispersions. When consumers search for singe products, we find that variety reduces the cost of search and induces consumers to search less, which increases the pricing power of online retailers. However, when consumers search for multiple products, search costs still fall in variety, but consumers search more intensively across stores, potentially increasing! the competitiveness of online retail markets.

December 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Breaking Down Hong Kong's New Competition Law

This interview for Bloomberg with Clara Ingen-Housz (Linklaters) explores a number of issues on implementation (and business preparedness) for the Hong Kong Competition law.  The Commission has a top notch team and I expect enforcement in Hong Kong to be very good.

 

 

 

The Commission has some great new videos.  I particularly like this one (with fat cats):

 

December 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Retail Market Power in a Shopping Basket Model of Supermarket Competition

Timothy Richards (Arizona State University) ; Stephen Hamilton (Department of Economics, California Polytechnic State University) ; Koichi Yonezawa (Technical University of Munich) explore Retail Market Power in a Shopping Basket Model of Supermarket Competition.

ABSTRACT: Supermarket consumers typically purchase more than one item at a time. Modeling demand relationship among items in consumers' shopping baskets is therfore essential to understanding how retailers set prices. To date, models of price competition among retailers typically assume consumers make discrete choices among categories in the store or derive utility from independent goods that is unaffected by basket composition. In this paper, we develop a model of price competition among items in consumer shopping baskets. We derive inferences for market power under complementary categories and compare outcomes with the prediction of models that assume discrete choice among independent categories. We show that complementarity generates substantially greater pricing power for retailers than independent goods, resulting in less competitive behavior.

December 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Attribute Search in Online Retail Grocery Markets

Timothy Richards (Arizona State University) and Stephen Hamilton (Department of Economics, California Polytechnic State University) discuss Attribute Search in Online Retail Grocery Markets.

ABSTRACT: Online shopping is common in many categories of retail goods. The recent trend towards online retailing has created an unprecedented empirical opportunity to examine consumer search behavior using click stream data. In this paper we examine consumer search intensity across a wide range of grocery products that differ in the depth of product assortment. We develop a model of attribute search in which consumers search within a chosen retailer for products that match their tastes, and that equilibrium prices reflect retailers’ expectations of how intensively consumers intend to shop. The model predicts an inverse relationship between product variety and attribute search in which greater product variety reduces search intensity and leads to higher retail prices. We test these hypotheses using consumer data on online search and purchase behavior from the comScore Web Behavior Panel. Our results indicate that consumer’s search less and pay higher retail pri! ces in categories with deeper product assortments, a finding that suggests deeper product assortments can produce anti-competitive effects in retail food markets mediated through equilibrium responses in consumer search.

December 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Firebird Suite: cartel suppression reborn in Japan

Mel Marquis, EUI discusses Firebird Suite: cartel suppression reborn in Japan.

ABSTRACT: This article has two main objectives. First, it attempts to explain how, as if rising from the ashes, Japanese competition law enforcement has experienced a significant renaissance. Second, it provides an overview of Japan’s anti-cartel regime. With regard to the first objective, Part II of the article notes the importance of the Strategic Impediment Initiative talks between Japan and the USA but it ultimately characterizes those talks as a second-order factor, underlining instead the deeper issue of Japan’s stagnant economy. It is suggested that the old cultural assumption that economic recovery is possible without a genuine commitment to competitive markets and an effective competition policy has largely been overcome, and that this shifting economic ethos has enabled the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) to become a more assertive enforcer. Additional factors highlighted include the leadership (2002–12) of the former Chairman of the JFTC, and other influences such as the OECD’s evaluations of Japanese regulatory reform. As concerns the article’s second objective, Parts III and IV explain the basics of the rules governing Japan’s fight against cartels. The article reviews, inter alia, the concept of a ‘substantial restraint of competition’ and the JFTC’s powers when it investigates and sanctions illegal conduct—either in cartel scenarios or, notoriously in Japan, bid-rigging cases. Part V highlights recent developments such as the JFTC’s managerial transition under a new Chairman, and it briefly reports and assesses the amendments made to the Anti-Monopoly Act in December of 2013. Part VI concludes with final remarks.

December 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)