Competition policy

Ginger Zhe Jin, Michael Luca, Daniel Martin, 22 July 2015

Theories of voluntary disclosure suggest that even when disclosure is voluntary, market forces can drive firms to completely reveal information about their quality. This column investigates these predictions in an experimental setting. Laboratory results suggest widespread failures of the theoretical predictions – senders do not fully disclose, and receivers are not fully sceptical about non-disclosure. This suggests a role for policymakers to help customers understand the sound of silence.

Paolo Buccirossi, Catarina Marvão, Giancarlo Spagnolo, 14 July 2015

EU anti-cartel decisions have imposed billion of euros of fines in recent years, but private actions by cartel victims are also possible. This column discusses a 2014 EU Directive that facilitates private actions by cartel victims while attempting to reduce conflicts between private and public enforcement.

Petr Matous, Yasuyuki Todo, 16 June 2015

Japanese business groups, or keiretsu – cartels of companies with interlocking interests – have contributed much to the success of Japanese manufacturing in the 20th century. This column explores the future of this form of corporate governance, amid increasing calls for their dissolution. An examination of trade networks in the automotive industry shows that automakers no longer exhibit a preference for dealing with keiretsu partners. Globalisation, procurement scandals, and advances in modularisation have helped to erode the benefits of these long-term relationships.

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.

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