Chiara Farronato, Jessica Fong, Andrey Fradkin, 24 January 2021

Mergers between digital platforms frequently attract widespread attention, not just from the media but from researchers in economics and law as well. This column explores the effects of a merger between two rival platforms, using the case of the two largest US two-sided markets for dog sitting. The results of the study suggest that online users are, on average, no better off with a single dominant platform compared to two competitors. The authors argue that this net effect is the result of two counterbalancing forces: network effects and platform differentiation.

Xavier Vives, 20 January 2021

The dominance of Big Tech and other ‘superstar’ firms’ has put market power back on the agenda of politicians, as well as in research. But although oligopoly markets have been introduced in macroeconomic and trade models, this is mostly in the context of a very large ‘continuum’ of sectors such that a firm has market power in its sector but no influence on the wider economy.  This column argues that it is high time that oligopoly is integrated fully into the macroeconomics toolbox.

Francis Bloch, Gabrielle Demange, 17 December 2020

Tax avoidance by multinational firms presents a substantial challenge to policymakers and to international organisations. This column explores two possible policy regimes that could be introduced to target global firms focused on digital services: separate accounting and formula apportionment. The results of the study suggest that the separate accounting approach could be optimal, inducing lower efficiency costs and larger fiscal revenues. Such a policy regime would also make country-by-country reporting compulsory and reliable, which would induce additional outside benefits.

Giulio Cornelli, Jon Frost, Leonardo Gambacorta, Raghavendra Rau, Robert Wardrop, Tania Ziegler, 20 November 2020

Credit markets around the world are undergoing a transformation. Fintech and big tech firms are providing more lending to households and small businesses. Using a new database, this column estimates that fintech credit flows reached $223 billion in 2019, while big tech credit reached $572 billion. Both forms of credit are larger where there is greater (unmet) demand for credit and where economic and institutional factors favour the supply of such lending. The Covid-19 pandemic represents an important test for these new business models.

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.

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.

William Kerr, 31 January 2020

Why are cities so keen to create their own technology clusters, and why is it so difficult? Bill Kerr of Harvard Business School tells Tim Phillips what economists know (and don't know) about where tech clusters come from

Tara Rice, Kathryn Petralia, 24 September 2019

On 24 September the CEPR launched the latest Geneva Report on the world economy, called Banking disrupted? Financial intermediation in an era of transformational technology. Tim Phillips asks Tara Rice and Kathryn Petralia, two of the authors, whether fintechs and cryptocurrencies signal the beginning of the end for banks.

Kathryn Petralia, Thomas Philippon, Tara Rice, Nicolas Véron, 24 September 2019

FinTech and Big Tech firms are both increasingly stepping on banks’ traditional turf. This column introduces the 22nd Geneva Report on the World Economy, which looks at the challenges generated by new technology-enabled entrants to the global banking industry and the public authorities that oversee it. It argues that to respond adequately to the FinTech/Big Tech challenge, authorities will need to raise their game and enter uncharted territories.

CEPR Policy Research