Giancarlo Spagnolo and Catarina Marvão ‘Cartels and Leniency: Taking stock of what we learnt’

This paper, available at https://ideas.repec.org/p/hhs/hasite/0039.html, reviews the literature on the incentives of leniency applicants.  It is a really useful piece for anyone doing leniency work, and extremely thorough. It is not possible to  provide a summary of the paper: it reviews too many papers and possible scenarios (the first section looks at economic models, the second at empirical evidence). If there is a basic argument underpinning all of this, it seems to be that incentives to increase cartel enforcement results may not be well-aligned with maximising welfare /  may lead to excessively generous leniency conditions; and that leniency reduces collusion but that the EU is too nice to cartelists and extends leniency to far too many companies.

Elisabeth de Ghellinck ‘The As-Efficient-Competitor Test

This paper, published in the Journal of European Competition Law & Practice and available at https://academic.oup.com/jeclap/article-abstract/7/8/544/2194480, looks at the as efficient competitor test (known as AEC by its acquaintances) – the economic test that refuses to come to life (and God knows that some have tried to breathe life into it). After the European Commission tried to make this test the cornerstone of its enforcement activities on abusive practices (in its Guidance on Enforcement Priorities for Exclusionary Practices), and the European Courts first dismissed the relevance of the test in virtually all scenarios (Post Danmark II) before saying that it may actually be useful under certain circumstances (Intel), we have this piece is by an economist trying to identify when the test can be useful. A number of conclusions are reached, in particular:  it is sensible to decide that an AEC test is not a prerequisite for establishing the abusive character of a retroactive rebate scheme, since such a test can only…

Frederic Jenny ‘Abuse of dominance by firms charging excessive or unfair prices: an assessment’

This is a paper by Fred Jenny  for the Israeli competition authority on excessive pricing – the competition law infraction that refuses to die, and is arguably making a comeback. The paper can be found at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2880382. It reviews the debate that has taken place among economists on what the definition of excessive prices could be and whether the control of excessive prices by competition authorities would in fact promote or discourage competition. The paper is structured as follows: Section I takes stock of the enforcement activities of competition authorities against high prices (or the lack of enforcement) in a number of countries; Section II analyses the general arguments in favour or against the enforcement of provisions sanctioning excessive pricing abuses by dominant companies or monopolies; Section III examines the risks associated with wrongful decisions by competition authorities in this area and the cost of such errors; Section IV analyses the economic screens which have been proposed by various economists to…

Michal S. Gal and Niva Elkin-Koren ‘Algorithmic Consumers’

This paper, published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology and available at https://jolt.law.harvard.edu/assets/articlePDFs/v30/30HarvJLTech309.pdf, focuses on the use of algorithms by consumers to orient and even take decisions regarding their purchases. The basic argument is that, with the Internet of Things, systems will move from merely making recommendations to making and executing decisions for the consumer by directly communicating with other systems through the internet. As rightly pointed out in the article, this is not unheard of: in some industries, such as stock trading, algorithms already automatically translate their results into buying decisions; there is even a washing machine that makes autonomous orders and payments (e.g., buying detergent) and updates the owner via a smartphone. The paper usefully contains a literature review on algorithmic competition (which, it must be said, is still rather limited). It also makes some valuable points, such as: algorithmic consumers may submit suppliers to increased competitive pressures and change the parameters of competition (since they will be able…

Wouter Wils ‘The Use of Leniency in EU Cartel Enforcement: An Assessment After Twenty Years’

This paper by Wouter Wils – available at https://www.concurrences.com/en/review/numeros/no-1-2017/articles/the-use-of-leniency-in-eu-cartel-enforcement-an-assessment-after-twenty-years – describes  20 years of leniency in Europe. In addition to some interesting statistics, it contains an overview of arguments for and against the use of leniency. It is useful for anyone doing bid-rigging / promoting the virtues of competition, but putting at risk the job of thousands of trainee lawyers who will no longer have a job searching for examples of the practical application of  leniency by the European Commission.