Cristina Caffarra, Gregory Crawford, 26 August 2020

New law for a Mandatory Bargaining Code has been introduced in Australia to implement a decision that publishers should be compensated for use of news content by giant digital platforms. This reflects a policy view that the large disparity in bargaining power between platforms and individual publishers requires positive intervention to support quality journalism and news production.  This column argues that the Code as formulated by the ACCC has desirable properties in line with bargaining theory (including the use of ‘final offer arbitration’ as a backstop); it also leaves implementation of the regulation to the parties involved, not to an agency suffering from extreme asymmetric information. At a time when the design of regulation for ‘gatekeeper’ platforms is very much top of the agenda, this ‘decentralised regulation’ approach should be considered as part of a menu of possibilities in multiple settings. 

Dirk Bergemann, Alessandro Bonatti, Tan Gan, 26 August 2020

The rise of large digital platforms — from Facebook, Google, and Amazon in the US to JD, Tencent, and Alibaba in China — has led to the unprecedented collection and commercial use of individual data. This column argues that a central, underappreciated feature of those data is their social aspect: data captured from an individual user describe not only that individual, but other users with similar characteristics or behaviours. The policy implications of this insight include the need for privacy regulations focused less on personalised prices, and more on group-based price discrimination.

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.

Thorsten Kaeseberg, 12 December 2019

The agendas and roadmaps for the future of digital policy in Europe have been debated extensively. This column proposes a menu of different policy instruments for the new European Commission in order to achieve this transformation. These include reforming the framework of the e-commerce Directive, regulating super-dominant digital platforms, facilitating data intermediaries as counter-balancing actors, facilitating the rise of European platforms, and pushing blockchain. 

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The intensive course in Competition in Digital Markets will be held at the Barcelona GSE from November 20 to 22, 2019. This course offers the opportunity to understand how the digital economy works, and under what conditions competition may not function as it should in this sector. It provides participants with a thorough understanding of how to evaluate the substitutability between different offerings and when to view practices such as tying, exclusive contracts, price-parity clauses, and discriminatory access to platforms as anti-competitive (but also explain in what circumstances they are likely to be beneficial).

Course lecturers includes leading international competition scholars and practitioners with extensive experience of the application of economic techniques to competition cases in this area:

Giulio Federico (Head of Unit, CET, DG Competition European Commission)

Chiara Fumagalli (Associate Professor of Economics, Bocconi University)

Massimo Motta (Professor of Economics, ICREA-UPF and Barcelona GSE; former Chief Competition Economist, European Commission) - course director

Martin Peitz (Professor of Economics, University of Mannheim)

An Early Bird discount will be offered to participants confirming their attendance before October 20. A reduced course fee is also available to Regulators, Competition Authorities, Academics and Barcelona GSE Alumni.

Susan Lund, Jacques Bughin, 10 April 2019

The history of trade reflects the ongoing march of technological innovation. This column argues that despite today’s increased trade tensions, rising nationalism, and slowdown in global goods trade, globalisation is not in retreat. Instead, it is entering a new chapter that is being driven by flows of information and data, as well as technological changes that are reshaping industry value chains.

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