Competition policy

Fabian Herweg, Daniel Müller, 07 April 2015

Manufacturers discriminating among retailers is an important issue in competition policy. Specifically, the EU allows quantity discounts but forbids discriminatory discounts – a policy that does not jive with standard economic analysis which suggests that banning price discrimination improves allocative efficiency and typically also raises overall welfare. This column argues that the research – and the recommendations that flow from it – are based on excessively restrictive assumptions. When there are nonlinear wholesale contracts, e.g. quantity discounts, the presence of private information can reverse the standard analysis in a way that supports the EU’s policy. 

Andrew W. Lo, Richard T. Thakor, 24 March 2015

R&D-intensive firms such as biopharmaceutical companies operate in a competitive and risky environment. This column presents new evidence on how competition affects the investment decision of R&D-intensive firms. An increase in competition will make the firm increase the R&D investment, and as a response the firm will carry more cash and reduce its debt. Also, more competition will increase the idiosyncratic risk of R&D-intensive firms.

Iain M. Cockburn, Jean O. Lanjouw, Mark Schankerman, 22 November 2014

Patented pharmaceuticals diffuse across international borders slowly, and sometimes not at all. This column analyses the effect of patent protection and price regulation on the speed of and extent to which drugs enter new markets. There is a fundamental tradeoff between affordability – taking the form of low patent protection and strong price regulation – and rate of entry into a national market.

Hugh Rockoff, 04 October 2014

World War I profoundly altered the structure of the US economy and its role in the world economy. However, this column argues that the US learnt the wrong lessons from the war, partly because a halo of victory surrounded wartime policies and personalities. The methods used for dealing with shortages during the war were simply inappropriate for dealing with the Great Depression, and American isolationism in the 1930s had devastating consequences for world peace.

Farid Toubal, Bruce Blonigen, Lionel Fontagné, Nicholas Sly, 15 August 2014

The concerns of economic nationalists about cross-border takeovers are rooted in the idea that foreign enterprises extract the most valuable assets from top performing domestic firms. Practical concerns about economic efficiency of cross-border M&A markets hinge on whether takeovers transfer underperforming domestic economic resources toward more productive uses at foreign enterprises. How then to reconcile these concerns when forming policies about cross-border activity? It’s all in the timing.

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