Christian Catalini and Catherine Tucker ‘Antitrust and Costless Verification: An Optimistic and a Pessimistic View of the Implications of Blockchain Technology’

This paper’s basic argument is that the blockchain holds both promises and threats for antitrust. There is reason to think that the decentralised nature of some blockchain implementations may reduce the need for antitrust enforcement, as it prevents the accumulation of market power by digital platforms. But there is also reason to believe that the technology may pose practical challenges for antitrust enforcement. Antitrust law is set up on the premise that there is a clearly demarcated firm (or set of firms) that may try to seek market power. The decentralised nature of the technology means that identifying an entity to prosecute or hold responsible for any degree of market power (or its abuse) is impossible, and that collusion and price setting between competitors may be harder to detect. The paper begins by describing the blockchain, and why it should matter for antitrust. From an economics perspective, an implementation of blockchain technology has two key characteristics: (i) a set of…

Andres Caro ‘Leveraging market power online: the Google Shopping case’ (2018) Competition Law Journal 17(1) 49

The Google Shopping case raises many important questions, such as: how do we deal with the leveraging of market power in digital markets? How do we weigh the benefits to consumers against the potential harm to competition? And, lastly, what are the appropriate remedies for this type of behaviour? In addressing these questions, this paper is structured as follows: A first section describes the background to the Google Shopping decision by the European Commission. Google aggregates, sorts, displays and provides direct access to retailers’ webpages in exchange for a fee through Google Shopping. Other online platforms, including Nextag, Foundem and Shopzilla, offer similar services. However, until early 2018 ‘while competing comparison shopping services can appear only as generic search results and are prone to the ranking of their web pages in generic search results on Google’s general search results pages being reduced (‘demoted’) by certain algorithms, Google’s own comparison shopping service is prominently positioned, displayed in rich format and is…

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…