Competition policy

Elena Argentesi, Paolo Buccirossi, Emilio Calvano, Tomaso Duso, Alessia Marrazzo, Salvatore Nava, 04 March 2020

Dominant companies in the digital market may use merger and acquisitions – especially ‘killer’ or ‘zombie’ acquisitions – and the (under)enforcement of merger control to stifle competition and cement their market dominance. This column analyses acquisition activity by Amazon, Facebook, and Google between 2008 and 2018, and finds that they often targeted very young firms. Because the evolution of young firms is still uncertain, it is difficult for competition authorities to assess the effects of these mergers, especially when the focus is on single acquisitions without considering the overall acquisition strategy.

Tomaso Duso, 28 February 2020

In the last decade, global digital giants have snapped up hundreds of smaller, innovative companies. Should competition authorities have intervened more often? Tomaso Duso tells Tim Phillips about new research that suggests they should.

Maurizio Bussolo, Francesca de Nicola, Ugo Panizza, Richard Varghese, 28 February 2020

Firms can use political connections to gain an unfair advantage in resource allocation, such as easier access to credit. This column examines around 460,000 firms from six central and eastern European economies and shows that political connections ease credit constraints, distort capital allocation, and may have large welfare costs. Connected firms do not always borrow to invest and, when they do invest, they are likely to misallocate capital.

Massimo Motta, Martin Peitz, 11 February 2020

Big Tech mergers increasingly require regulatory authorities with enhanced toolboxes. To ensure genuine competition in the digital marketplace, novel theories of harm will need to be elaborated and applied. This column provides guidance on these issues, arguing that to properly investigate Big Tech mergers, competition law will need to restructure the standards and burden of proof.

Walker Hanlon, Taylor Jaworski, 31 January 2020

The slowing pace of economic growth in the US and Europe have rekindled fears of reduced innovation and prompted calls for institutional changes meant to increase returns on spending for research and development. This column uses the case of the US interwar aircraft industry to suggest some unforeseen hazards of such change. It recommends considering the design of innovation and antitrust policy in tandem, especially where attempts to provide incentives for innovation may alter the extent of competition and endogenously reconfigure market structure.

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