Competition policy

Koen Frenken, Arnoud van Waes, Magda Smink, Rinie van Est, 03 April 2018

The success of Airbnb and Uber has heralded the rise of online platforms and marketplaces for goods and services. This column identifies public interests that are common to most sharing and gig platforms, and presents a policy framework based on four basic policy options: enforce existing regulations, enact new regulations, deregulate, or tolerate.

Nicoletta Berardi, Patrick Sevestre, 13 March 2018

Identical products are often sold at different prices at different times and in different shops. This column uses data from 1,000 products across more than 1,500 stores to argue that, in France at least, consumers are in a relatively good position to decide where to go shopping. Expensive and cheap stores tend to be persistently expensive or cheap over time and across the products they most commonly sell, and the retail chain to which a store belongs is a good indicator of its expensiveness.

Itai Ater, Oren Rigbi, 20 January 2018

The ability to compare prices openly and easily is widely thought to foster competitiveness, but mandatory disclosure of pricing information can also facilitate collusion between sellers. This column uses evidence from before and after the introduction of price disclosure regulation in the Israeli supermarket industry to evaluate how price transparency affected food prices. Mandatory disclosure decreased the dispersion and, to a lesser extent, the levels of prices. On average, Israeli consumers saved about $27 per month thanks to the regulation.

Ryoko Ueda, Keiichiro Kobayashi, 18 November 2017

Strategic shareholding – companies holding minority shares in other companies for the sake of business relations – can be used for anticompetition purposes or to reduce pressure from shareholders. This column explores strategic shareholding in Japan. Roughly one third of shareholders are found to be strategic, with three quarters of these being business corporations. However, in Japanese corporate culture it is not uncommon for such shareholding to occur as part of technical or business partnerships without affecting managerial independence.

Monika Schnitzer, Martin Watzinger, 31 October 2017

Conventional wisdom holds that venture capital-financed start-up companies generate positive spillovers for other businesses, but these spillovers are hard to measure accurately. This column uses a broader analysis of patent spillovers than previous studies to argue that venture capital-financed start-up companies help established companies innovate, and play a significant role in the commercialisation of new technologies. This suggests that subsidies for venture capital investment should be at least as large as current R&D subsidies.

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