Competition policy

Laurent Gobillon, Carine Milcent, 21 July 2017

It is widely believed that the goal of keeping health expenditures under control while increasing the quality of the healthcare system can best be achieved by giving a greater role to market forces. This column evaluates the effect of a pro-competition reform implemented in France over 2004-2008 on hospital quality. It finds that the impact on quality depends on the managerial autonomy of hospitals. And due to the French healthcare market structure, the overall effect of the reform has been limited.

Christos Genakos, Tommaso Valletti, Frank Verboven, 16 June 2017

Europe is experiencing a wave of mergers in the telecommunications industry. This column argues that an increase in market concentration in the mobile industry generates an important potential trade-off: while consolidation increases prices, investment per operator also goes up. Competition and regulatory authorities should be open to the potential trade-off between market power effects and efficiency gains from agreements between firms.

Nicholas Crafts, 18 April 2017

Depending on the outcome of negotiations, Brexit potentially changes the rules that govern the use of industrial policy. The UK government has in mind risky policy reforms that appear to be incompatible with EU rules on state aid. This column argues that this is an unheralded downside of a hard Brexit. 

Micael Castanheira, Carmine Ornaghi, Georges Siotis, 01 March 2017

Conventional wisdom holds that increased competition improves market outcomes. This column argues that the link from competitiveness to allocative efficiency is weaker than this wisdom would suggest. Using evidence of generic substitutes of previously patent-protected drugs, it shows that firms can use non-price instruments which affect – or even reverse – the way competitive shocks alter market outcomes, with significant welfare implications.

Philippe Jehiel, Laurent Lamy, 22 November 2016

Bid preferences and set-asides are popular discriminatory practices in US public procurement, but are prohibited in the EU. This column argues that discrimination can be cost-reducing provided it is targeted to favour those firms whose participation is more responsive to the auction procedure. Situations when set-asides may be cost-reducing are also discussed.

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