Open competition is regarded as a crucial ‘preventative tool’ that limits government discretion and abuse of power when awarding procurement contracts. However, various studies have identified numerous drawbacks to using open auctions when contracting is imperfect. This column discusses the effects of increased buyer discretion on public procurement in Italy. Increased discretion raises the number of repeated wins by contractors, suggesting long-term relationships between buyers and sellers. Furthermore, productive buyer-seller relationships appear to outnumber corrupt ones.
Decio Coviello, Andrea Guglielmo, Giancarlo Spagnolo, 07 August 2016
Toshihiro Okubo, Tetsuji Okazaki, Eiichi Tomiura, 19 July 2016
In the context of increased global trade and accompanying competition, firms are increasingly engaged in industrial clusters. This column uses firm-level transaction data to analyse the impact of firms’ relationships with financial institutions on their networking within clusters. Firms participating in government-supported cluster programmes increase their transaction networks significantly faster than those not in clusters. The column also finds that firms with expanding networks are mainly financed by regional banks, not national or global ones.
Norges Bank Investment Management, 18 July 2016
Growth in the number of publicly quoted companies is a key driver of economic development, so the apparent decline in the number of company listings, at least in developed markets, is naturally worrying for investors, exchanges, and regulators alike. This column provides a framework to address this decline, and proposes possible remedies that could be taken to encourage more listings. The listings ecosystem must establish a new equilibrium to address the evolving conflicts of interest between founders, early investors, underwriters, and future shareholders.
Fabienne Ilzkovitz, Adriaan Dierx, 19 June 2016
Firms with greater market power can behave monopolistically, and recent research suggests that declining market competitiveness is driving income inequality. While competition authorities already measure the overall impact of their interventions by using customer savings, these measurements do not account for indirect effects of intervention. This column introduces a DSGE model to model competition policy interventions as a negative mark-up shock. Competition policy has a significant and positive impact on growth and jobs, and impacts richer and poorer households differently. Interventions have important redistributive effects that benefit the poorest in society.
Peter Andrews, Amelia Fletcher, Michael Grubb, Charlotte Duke, David Laibson, 15 June 2016
Behavioural industrial organisation centres on competition analysis with realistic assumptions, reflecting human behaviour. In this video, economists Peter Andrews, Amelia Fletcher, Michael Grubb, Charlotte Duke and David Laibson discuss how behavioural industrial organisation can be used to model and regulate financial markets, as well as to promote more effective competition. The video was recorded during the FCA symposium on Behavioural Industrial Organisation held in December 2015.
Jean-Marc Fournier, 26 May 2016
The limits of the European Single Market have often been highlighted. This column argues that although implicit barriers remain, the Single Market has delivered substantial benefits to member countries. New empirical evidence is presented of the trade and FDI gains that Central and Eastern European countries have enjoyed since joining the Single Market. On top of making regulations more competition-friendly, regulatory harmonisation can boost the economic links between countries.
Jeremiah Dittmar, Skipper Seabold, 19 August 2015
Internet-based communications technologies appear to be integral to the diffusion of social movements today. This column looks back at the Protestant Reformation – the first mass movement to use the new technology of the printing press to drive social change. It argues that diffusion of the Reformation was not driven by technology alone. Competition and openness in the media were also crucial, and delivered their biggest effects in cities where political freedom was most limited.
Andrew Lo, Richard 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.
Jon Danielsson, Eva Micheler, Katja Neugebauer, Andreas Uthemann, Jean-Pierre Zigrand, 23 February 2015
The proposed EU capital markets union aims to revitalise Europe’s economy by creating efficient funding channels between providers of loanable funds and firms best placed to use them. This column argues that a successful union would deliver investment, innovation, and growth, but it depends on overcoming difficult regulatory challenges. A successful union would also change the nature of systemic risk in Europe.
Daniel Bennett, Wes Yin, 14 August 2014
Many drugs sold in poor countries are counterfeit or substandard, endangering patients’ health and fostering drug resistance. Since drug quality is difficult to observe, pharmacies in weakly regulated markets may have little incentive to improve quality. However, larger markets allow firms to reorganise production and invest in technologies that reduce the marginal cost of quality. This column discusses how the entry of a new pharmacy chain in India led incumbents to both cut prices and raise drug quality.
Joan Costa-i-Font, Alistair McGuire, Nebibe Varol, 10 May 2014
Generic medicines are cheaper than their branded counterparts, offering potential savings in healthcare budgets. Medicine-price regulation plays an important role in the expansion of the market for generic medicines. This column presents new evidence that higher levels of price regulation, by lowering the expected price to generic manufacturers, lead (ceteris paribus) to greater delays in generic entry.
Mario Mariniello, 22 September 2013
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.
Jerónimo Carballo, Gianmarco Ottaviano, Christian Volpe, 11 August 2013
The authors use highly disaggregated firm-level export data from Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Uruguay over the period 2005-08 to provide a precise characterization of firms' export margins, across products, destination countries, and crucially customers. They show that a firm's number of buyers and the distribution of sales across them systematically vary with the characteristics of its destination markets.
Allan Collard-Wexler, Jan De Loecker, 03 February 2013
This paper measures the impact of the minimill, a drastic new technology for producing steel. The authors find that the sharp increase in the industry's productivity is linked to this new technology, and operates through two distinct mechanisms. First, minimills displaced the older technology, called vertically integrated production, and this reallocation of output was responsible for a third of the increase in the industry's productivity. Second, increased competition, due to the expansion of minimills, drove a substantial reallocation process within the group of vertically integrated producers, driving a resurgence in their productivity, and consequently of the industry's productivity as a whole.
Rob Simmons, 03 September 2012
As the new football season kicks off, Europe’s top clubs are preparing to abide by UEFA’s Financial Fair Play initiative, designed to ensure financial discipline and make European football more competitive. But this column argues that the new rules could end up doing just the opposite.
Hans Degryse, Martin Brown, Daniel Hoewer, María Fabiana Penas, 05 June 2012
Might bank consolidation and the increasing reliance on external credit ratings harm access to credit for start-up firms, especially those in high-tech industries? This column examines how the availability of credit for start-ups in Germany is related to their external credit rating as well as the size and expertise of their main bank.
Lorenzo Forni, Andrea Gerali, Massimiliano Pisani, 03 April 2012
How to jump-start productivity growth in Europe’s economies is a question at the heart of debate over economic policy in the Eurozone. This column explores the effect of a decrease in mark-ups in the Italian services sector. Using simulations, it suggests that the potential macroeconomic gains from pursuing competition-friendly reforms could be substantial.
Noboru Kawahama, 22 March 2012
Competition may drive down prices but it also drives down profits – and some would argue innovation as well. How should policymakers balance the short-term need for competition with the the long-term need for innovation? This column explores the idea of ‘innovation and competition policy’ rather than just ‘competition poliicy’.
Alison Booth, Patrick Nolen, Lina Cardona Sosa, 20 February 2012
Some blame women’s under-representation in high-level jobs on differences between the sexes in risk aversion and competition. But are these differences in behaviour hardwired or learned? This column describes a study that tackles this thorny question with a controlled experiment in single-sex and mixed classrooms in a British university. Women are found to become far less nervous about uncertainty over time with the men out of the room.
Robert Frank, 23 December 2011
Robert Frank of Cornell University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his book, ‘The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition and the Common Good’. He argues that Charles Darwin's understanding of competition – in which individual and group interests often diverge sharply – describes economic reality far more accurately than Adam Smith's. They discuss the implications of this view for current debates about inequality, taxation, and policies to get out of economic stagnation. The interview was recorded in London in November 2011. [Transcript available]