Competition policy

Pierre Dubois, Morten Sæthre, 04 July 2020

Differences in regulated pharmaceutical prices within the European Economic Area create arbitrage opportunities that pharmacy retailers can access through parallel imports. For prescription drugs under patent, parallel trade affects the sharing of profits among an innovating pharmaceutical company, retailers, and parallel traders. This column discusses recent findings showing that in a country which does not regulate pharmacy retailers’ margins, retailer incentives to bargain lower wholesale prices play a significant role in fostering parallel trade penetration, and that banning parallel imports would benefit manufacturers.

Cristina Caffarra, Federico Etro, Oliver Latham, Fiona Scott Morton, 04 June 2020

There is a developed public discourse on the need for more enforcement, regulation and legislation of digital platforms. Regulating ‘gatekeeper platforms’ has emerged as a major plank of the new European Commission mandate, with a consultation process underway this week for a plan to introduce both ex-ante regulation and a new market investigation tool with quasi-regulatory powers. This column asks how economists can contribute to rationally progressing the debate, so that it is not based on subjective priors, but uses applied theory to make testable predictions, and data to discriminate between theories.

Anna Stansbury, Lawrence H. Summers, 02 June 2020

Since the early 1980s, the US has seen a falling labour share and slow wage growth for typical workers, while measures of corporate valuations and measured markups have increased. A number of papers have argued that increasing monopoly or monopsony power can explain these trends. This column argues instead that the decline in worker power in the US economy is a more compelling explanation for recent macro trends than a broad-based rise in monopoly power.

David Argente, Salome Baslandze, Douglas Hanley, Sara Moreira, 28 May 2020

Patents are at the heart of policies designed to incentivise innovation and productivity growth. In recent years however, while patent activity has skyrocketed, innovation and productivity growth have not. This column collects data on product innovations and links those to their respective patent. While patent filings are found to be followed by product innovations overall, this relationship is much stronger for firms with lower market share.

Luís Cabral, 22 May 2020

Should competition authorities intervene more often in tech mergers? Be careful, Luis Cabral tells Tim Phillips: they risk stifling innovation if they do. 

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