Competition policy is central to the management of a modern economy. This column analyses some key distortions caused by competition policy and argues in favour of criminal sanctions in nations lacking resources for an appropriate fine-tuning of antitrust fines.
In 2004, European merger law was substantially revised, with the aim of achieving a ‘more economic approach’ to merger policy. This column discusses a recent empirical assessment of European merger cases before and after the reform. Post-reform, the outcomes of merger cases became more predictable, and the Commission prohibited fewer pro-competitive mergers. While there remains room for improvement in several aspects, the reform seems to have been successful in bringing European competition law closer to economic principles.
Since the adoption of the Anti-Monopoly law in 2007, the Chinese competition authorities have stepped up enforcement of mergers and anti-competitive practices. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has relied heavily on behavioural remedies in merger cases (as opposed to the more efficient structural remedies favoured by the European Commission). Furthermore, merger policy has been used to protect domestic industries from competition. In contrast, Chinese fines for cartels have shown no foreign bias, and if anything have been too low.
Horizontal acquisitions affect prices through two channels: by eliminating competition between the firms involved, and by changing the incentives for collusion in the affected industry. This column summarises recent research that quantifies these two effects using a new methodology – one that accounts for the difference between financial interests and corporate control. A study of the disposable-razor industry shows that small firms have the greatest incentive to undercut pricing agreements. After acquisitions, acquiring firms have greater incentives to collude, whereas other firms in the industry are more likely to defect.
Cartel fines imposed by the European Commission routinely reach hundreds of millions of euro, having increased since the new 2006 fining policy. This column argues that they are still below their optimal level and come too slowly. Fines were often lower than the additional cartel profits and imposed 10 to 20 years after making the law-breaking decision was made – sometimes after the responsible managers had retired. To speed investigations, the Commission should Increase resources dedicated to inquiries; fines should also be raised.
Other Recent Articles:
- New challenges for bank competition policy
- Value-added exchange rates
- Market access in global and regional trade
- Own goal: Is UEFA’s Financial Fair Play initiative misguided?
- Financing start-ups: The impact of credit scoring and bank concentration
- Cloud computing: Economic issues
- Raising the competition: The case of Italy
- Innovation and competition policy: A new type of policy
- Bank competition and stability: Cross-country heterogeneity
- Does price regulation affect the adoption of new pharmaceuticals?
- Patent Boxes: An innovative way to race to the bottom?
- Competitiveness: The Great American Distraction
- Exchange consolidation: Are regulators once more sowing the seeds of instability?
- Can competition pull along the public sector? Evidence from Indian railways
- Talking shop: The costs of entry restrictions in retail trade
- Intellectual property rights and FDI knowledge diffusion
- Low-wage East meets high-quality West: New firm-level evidence from France
- Competition and cash crops in sub-Saharan Africa
- Collective cooperation: The phenomenon of open source
- Competition, commissioning and the quality of healthcare: The evidence on Britain’s NHS reforms
- Internationalisation, innovation, and productivity of firmsAltomonte, Aquilante, Békés, Ottaviano
- Predicting economic turning pointsAhir, Loungani
- How rich nations benefit from EU membershipCampos, Coricelli, Moretti
- The chartbook of economic inequalityAtkinson, Morelli
- The ECB should do QE via forex interventionFrankel
- A tale of two depressions: What do the new data tell us? February 2010 updateEichengreen, O’Rourke
- The ECB’s stealth bailoutSinn
- Educated in America: College graduates and high school dropoutsHeckman, LaFontaine
- Eurozone breakup would trigger the mother of all financial crisesEichengreen
- Panic-driven austerity in the Eurozone and its implicationsDe Grauwe, Ji
Claessens, 18 April 2014
Campos, Coricelli, Moretti
Ostry, Berg, Tsangarides
CEPR Policy Research
- The buyer margins of firms' exportsCarballo, Ottaviano, Volpe
- Commodity and Equity Markets: Some Stylized Facts from a Copula ApproachDelatte, Lopez
- Ethnic Unemployment Rates and Frictional MarketsGobillon, Rupert, Wasmer
- Finance and Poverty: Evidence from IndiaAyyagari, Beck, Hoseini
- The Manipulation of Basel Risk-WeightsMariathasan, Merrouche
- Making city lights shine brighterYusuf, Leipziger
- The euro in the 'currency war'Bénassy-Quéré, Martin
- The roots of shadow bankingPerotti
- What’s wrong with Europe?Baldini, Manasse
- How the EZ crisis is permanently changing EU institutionsMicossi
- The 13th Annual GEP Postgraduate Conference 20141 - 2 May 2014 / Nottingham / Sponsored by Nottingham Centre for Research on Globalisation and Economic Policy (GEP) University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
- Exchange Rates and External Adjustment2 - 3 June 2014 / Zurich / Swiss National Bank
- 13th Summer School in International Development Economics: Investment, Saving and Wellbeing in Developing Countries10 - 13 June 2014 / Palazzo Feltrinelli, Gargnano, Lake Garda (Italy) / Organisers: Centro Studi Luca d’Agliano, Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Paolo Baffi Center on International Markets, Money and Regulation, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods of the University of Milan, Department of Economics, Quantitative Methods and Business Strategies of the University of Milan Bicocca, Vilfredo Pareto Doctoral Program in Economics of the University of Turin, The Lombardy Advanced School of Economic Research (LASER).
- 3rd WB-BE Research Conference: Financing growth: Levers, Boosters and Brakes23 - 24 June 2014 / Banco de España headquarters in Madrid / This conference is sponsored by Banco de España and The World Bank