Florian Wagner Von Papp ‘Competition Law in EU Free Trade and Cooperation Agreements (and What the UK Can Expect After Brexit)’ European Yearbook of International Economic Law, Forthcoming

This paper – which can be found here – focuses on the interplay between trade and competition from a competition perspective. Its basic argument is that the more integrated a trade area is, the more similar competition rules are likely to be, and the easier it will be for international cooperation to occur.  The focus of the paper is on demonstrating how this occurs in practice, by looking at “the concentric circles of cooperation around the EU by examining the intergovernmental and inter-agency agreements concluded by the EU to face the complexities of the transnational economy of the 21st century.” Section 2 contains a short overview of the relationship between free trade and competition law. Free trade interacts with competition law on many levels, and their relationship is mainly symbiotic and self-reinforcing. However, competition and trade law conflict at points. Free trade should increase competition, since market entry by foreign competitors undermines domestic market power. Competition law is then useful…

Lee Hyo-young ‘Applying Competition Policy to Optimise International Trade Rules’ Korea Institute for International Economic Law 17-01

This paper – which can be found here – focuses on the relationship between trade and competition, and particularly on how the (apparently deceased, now revived) Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) imposes new rules on State-Owned Enterprises. It is structured as follows: Part II reviews how competition policy has historically figured in trade agreements. It contains an overview of the relationship between competition and international trade rules – in the Havana Charter, GATT and the WTO. This section also discusses how both competition and international trade law share the objective of enhancing economic efficiency and consumer welfare through trade liberalization and open markets. As a result, competition law is important for successful trade liberalisation, and to prevent anticompetitive and collusive conduct between businesses and governments that, from an international trade law perspective, amount to a form of non-tariff barrier that hinders access to markets by foreign competitors. After reviewing the main international trade law treaties, the author concludes that current rules fail…

Ariel Ezrachi and Maurice Stucke ‘The fight over antitrust’s soul’ (2017) Journal of European Competition Law & Practice 9(1) 1

The piece – which can be found here – begins by describing recent trends in academic discussions in antitrust, which I think this blog has followed in some detail over the past two years. On the one hand, we have the ‘hipster antitrust/New Brandeis’ school, with its criticism of Chicago school-based enforcement and its calls for greater intervention. On the other hand, we have the reactions to this antitrust movement which: ‘warn about enforcement chilling pro-competitive behaviour, and undermining the market’s ability to self-correct […] is unconcerned about the trend toward concentration, and reject fairness or distribution concerns as part of competition policy.’ The authors trace this debate to a number of factors. While they identify a number of them, from my perspective the debate ultimately stems from different understandings about how the economy works in practice. Some differences could ultimately be settled by reference to empirical data – for example, the debate between those who believe markets necessarily self-correct…

Niamh Dunne ‘Competition Law (and its Limits) in the Sharing Economy’ Forthcoming, Nestor Davidson, Michèle Finck and John Infranca (eds.), Cambridge Handbook on Law and Regulation of the Sharing Economy (Cambridge University Press)

As the title indicates: ‘This contribution (which can be found here) considers the potential application of competition law—specifically, the ‘antitrust’ rules governing anticompetitive unilateral or coordinated conduct—within the sharing economy.’ The sharing economy is described as a sector marked by recurrent characteristics, such as: (i) its underlying economic rationale is the under-utilisation of durable goods or other assets, which generates excess capacity that can be rented out; (ii) sharing economy businesses provide classic examples of ‘disruptive’ innovation, which originates outside a value network and displaces it; (iii) the innovations that underpin the sharing economy are rooted in the internet and mobile technologies; (iv) sharing economy businesses are often platforms in multi-sided markets; (v) sharing economy firms frequently conflict with regulatory regimes that control and limit the activities of competitors, resulting in recurrent critiques that such competition is inherently ‘unfair’. The paper is structured as follows: Section II examines how prohibitions against anticompetitive unilateral conduct may apply to the sharing economy. It begins…

Carl Shapiro ‘Antitrust in Times of Populism’

This paper – which can be found here – has been surrounded by a lot of publicity, and is a potentially important piece. It begins with an observation that goes to the heart of the debate:  ‘politicians are calling on antitrust to solve an array of problems associated with the excessive power of large corporations’. The author believes that ‘concerns about corporate power, and today’s renewed interest in antitrust, represent an opportunity to strengthen competition policy.’ At the same time, he alerts that the role of antitrust in promoting competition could well be undermined if antitrust is called upon or expected to address problems not directly relating to competition, such as the political power of corporations or income inequality. The ‘central purpose of this article is to assess the relevant economic evidence regarding competition (…) and then, based on that evidence and on antitrust learning and experience, identify ways to improve and strengthen antitrust.’ The paper is structured as follows:…

Steve Davies  ‘The deterrence value of competition policy can and should be measured’

This blog post – which can be found here –  pulls together the results from three recently completed papers on cartel deterrence (namely: (1) “The Deterrent Effect of Anti-Cartel Enforcement: A Tale of Two Tails”, with Bos, Davies, Harrington and Ormosi, 2017; (2) “Quantifying the deterrent effect of Anti-Cartel Enforcement”, Davies, Ormosi & Mariuzzo, 2017; and (3) “Cartel enforcement and deterrence over the life of a Competition Authority”, with Armoogum, Davies & Mariuzzo, (2017)). Given that deterrence can never be directly observed – because it refers to events that never occur – the papers are instead based on two statistical regularities that the authors uncovered from close scrutiny of large databases already in the public domain. The first regularity comes from a historical comparison of the overcharges set by 500 legal and illegal cartels. This comparison reveals a significantly lower incidence of illegal cartels in the two tails of the distribution of overcharges – i.e. when it is illegal to…

Murillo Campello (Cornell), Daniel Ferrés  (Montevideo) and Gaizka Ormazabal  (IESE)  ‘Whistle-Blowers on the Board? The Role of Independent Directors in Cartel Prosecutions’ (2017) The Journal of Law and Economics 60(20 241

The goal of this paper – which can be found here – is to examine ‘whether market-based penalties for nonexecutive officials [more specifically, independent board members] in firms involved in price-fixing are significant in shaping their behaviours.’ The reason to focus on independent board members is that they ‘are highly sensitive to market sanctions (for example, in the form of reputational losses). Importantly, directors have powers not only to order internal investigations but also to require officers and employees to cooperate with prosecutors. In some cases, boards also establish special committees and appoint outside counsel to consider applications for leniency. As a result, they constitute a set of corporate insiders whom antitrust policies can exploit in designing prosecution policies.’ The paper is structured as follows: Second 2 begins by providing an overview of US and EU regimes for cartel prosecution and leniency. It also describes the role of corporate boards in cartel investigations. In the US: ‘Once the corporation learns…

Pierre Cremieux and Edward A. Snyder ‘Enforcement of Anticollusion Laws against Domestic and Foreign Firms’ (2016) The Journal of Law and Economics 59(4) 775

This paper – which can be found here – looks into whether cartel enforcement in the EU and the US is protectionist or neutral. With globalization, individual authorities decide with increasing frequency whether to proceed with actions against foreign firms, and what penalties to impose when they are found liable. In principle, individual authorities should exhibit a neutral approach to the origin of an investigated entity – i.e. the national identities of firms should not influence enforcement actions. This paper seeks to confirm whether this is indeed the case, and is structured as follows: Section 2 discusses three potential hypotheses con­cerning the behaviour of antitrust authorities in a global context. First, authorities may follow a neutral approach according to which the national identities of firms play no role in enforcement decisions to impose a fine or its amount. Second, they may treat foreign firms more harshly than domestic firms. Third, they may focus their enforcement efforts on domestic firms and…

Kate Collyer, Hugh Mullan and Natalie Timan “Measuring Market Power in Multisided Markets’

This paper – a contribution to OECD work on how to deal with multisided market which can be found here –  seeks to provide pragmatic suggestions on how to measure market power in multi-sided markets. It is quite practical: it draws operational conclusions on how to adapt existing enforcement and merger assessment tools to address some of the challenges posed by multi-sided markets. The paper is structured as follows: The first section of the paper sets out some important features of multi-sided markets, including indirect network externalities, single-homing and multi-homing, price structures, and tipping. These have been discussed extensively in previous posts, so I’m not going to elaborate on them here. Suffice it to say that: ‘The standard results from one-sided markets do not apply directly to multi-sided markets and any assessment of market power needs to take this into account explicitly. Many of our standard tools for assessing market power are more complex to apply in multi-sided markets and…

David Evans and Richard Schmalensee ‘Network Effects: March to the Evidence, Not to the Slogans’ (2017) Antitrust Chronicle

The basic position of this paper – which can be found here – is that: ‘Competition authorities (…) with support from some dismal scientists, saw the dark side of network effects. Firms could rig the race to become the winner and thereby “tip” the market to make themselves monopolies. And even if a firm won fair and square, network effects would result in insurmountable barriers to entry and would be the font of permanent monopoly power. (…) A recent argument in this debate is that online platforms have troves of data that make network effects even more potent. Unfortunately, this view of network effects evolved from a seminal economic contribution to a set of slogans that don’t comport with the facts.” A first section looks at the economics of networks. This covers the origins of theoretical studies on this topic – which focused on telephone networks and fax machines, and standard-tipping (i.e. the VCR-BetaMax war). Theoretical refinements to the theory…