Is competition really delivering the goods?

Professor Stephen Davies from the School of Economics and Centre for Competition Policy will be giving a talk on;

“Is competition really delivering the goods? A stocktake of competition within the UK from the consumer’s perspective”

  Contemporary Economic Issues, Arts 01.02 Lecture Theatre, 6pm,  Monday 4th February 2013

One of the few things that most economists and political parties agree on is that ‘competition’ is the best way to run an economy so as to provide consumers with the lowest price, best quality and ample choice. This lecture takes an overview of the current state of competition in the UK. Illustrating with case studies of the products and services which most matter to consumers, it questions whether competition really is delivering the goods?

Sookmyung Women’s University, Korea visit CCP

Group photo

A group photo of the visitors from Sookmyung Women’s University

On Tuesday 15th January, the CCP were delighted to welcome a class of undergraduate competition students from the Sookmyung Women’s University in Korea. Read more of this post

CCP Seminar: An Experimental Analysis of Pricing-to-Market and Money Illusion

The CCP seminar series continues on Friday 25th January with Enrique Fatas (CCP and ECO) presenting his research on ‘An Experimental Analysis of Pricing-to-Market and Money Illusion‘ in collaboration with Guillermo Mateu (LESSAC, Burgundy School of Business) and Antonio J Morales (University of Malaga). An abstract for his seminar can be found below.

Abstract

We experimentally analyse pricing behaviour in segmented international markets. Experimental firms first decide in which foreign market to trade and then compete on prices. Markets are equivalent in real terms and only differ in the currency the price competition is run under. We find that prices increase with the nominal exchange rate (e.g., pricing-to-market). We develop a coarse pricing grids model in which boundedly rational agents adjust their prices to different nominal exchange rates. The equilibrium predictions of the model capture well both average treatment effects and the distribution of prices observed in the laboratory.

Morten Hviid on The Cab Rank Rule

The Legal Services Board have just published a report co-authored by CCP Director Morten Hviid:

In May 2012 the LSB commissioned Prof. John Flood (University of Westminster) and Prof. Morten Hviid (University of East Anglia) to carry out a literature review analysing the impact on the market of paragraphs 601-610 of the of the Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) code, otherwise known as the ‘cab rank rule’.

You can download the report from the LSB’s website.

Coverage of Appointment of Amelia Fletcher

The Times, 18th January 2013, p38Times coverage of Amelia Fletcher appointment

Online coverage can be found on Bloomberg, Global Competition Review (GCR), Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News.

OFT’s Chief Economist to join University of East Anglia

Amelia Fletcher

Dr Amelia Fletcher, currently Chief Economist at the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), is to join the University of East Anglia (UEA) as a Professor of Competition Policy, it was announced today.

Dr Fletcher will become a professor in the Norwich Business School and a member of UEA’s Centre for Competition Policy – a leading research centre, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, which specialises in the study of competition policy and regulation.

She joined the OFT in 2001, having previously worked as an economic consultant for Frontier Economics and prior to that London Economics.

Prof Neil Ward, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at UEA, said: “We are delighted with the appointment of Amelia to this chair. As well as her outstanding intellect, she has an unparalleled track record as a senior policy-maker and practitioner in competition policy and considerable experience in commissioning and managing research.”

Dr Fletcher, who takes up her new position in April, said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as Chief Economist at the OFT and am immensely proud of its record of economic and policy excellence, as well as its achievements in making a difference for consumers.

“However, I feel ready for a new challenge and am honoured to be taking up this chair at UEA.

The Centre for Competition Policy is a world-leading academic centre in competition policy and I look forward to working alongside colleagues to develop valuable new academic initiatives, as well as supporting the established work of the centre and building up my own research profile.”

Dr Fletcher was also a prominent figure in British indie music in the 1980s. She was the lead singer and songwriter with cult band Talulah Gosh, and now records with her current band Tender Trap. Last month former band-mate Elizabeth Price won the Turner Prize, prompting Talulah Gosh to be described in the Guardian as “one of the most over-achieving indie bands in history”.

Dr Pinar Akman has become a Non-Governmental Advisor to the UK for the International Competition Network

Dr Pinar Akman (a Senior Lecturer in Law at UEA Law School and a Faculty Member of the Centre for Competition Policy) has become a Non-Governmental Advisor (NGA) to the UK for the International Competition Network (ICN) Unilateral Conduct Working Group (UCWG). Read more of this post

Speakers at the 2013 CCP Conference

We are pleased to announce that the following individuals have confirmed they will be speaking at our conference. Further names (and titles and abstracts) will be added in due course.

Bill Kovacic (former Chairman of the FTC, Global Competition Professor of Law and Policy and Director of Competition Law Center at George Washington University, USA)

David Gerber (Distinguished Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law, USA)

Thibaud Vergé (Chief Economist at the Authorité de la Concurrence, France)

Tomaso Duso (Professor of Empirical Industrial Economics, Duesseldorf Institute for Competition Economics, DICE, Germany).

Alex Chisholm (Chief Executive Designate, UK Competition and Markets Authority, CMA, UK)

Hassan Qaqaya (Head, Competition law and Consumer Policies Branch, UNCTAD, Switzerland)

Stephen Martin (Professor of Economics, Purdue University, USA)

Laurent Warlouzet (Marie Curie Fellow, LSE, UK)

Imelda Maher (Professor in European Law, University College Dublin, Ireland)

The CCP Summer Conference takes place at UEA, Norwich on 6th and 7th June 2013.

Policy Brief: Strategic Obfuscation and Consumer Protection Policy in Financial Markets: Theory and Experimental Evidence

Strategic Obfuscation and Consumer Protection Policy in Financial Markets: Theory and Experimental Evidence

BACKGROUND

  • There has been a surge of interest in recent years in the behaviour of retail financial markets and how to improve market outcomes given consumers’ incomplete understanding of these markets.
  • There is evidence that firms may deploy strategies designed to take advantage of consumers’ limitations: firms may choose to obfuscate, where ‘obfuscation’ refers to strategic actions designed to prevent some consumers from recognising the best offer.
  • Possible consumer protection policies include education programmes designed to improve the financial literacy of consumers, a disclosure policy that forces firms to disclose all possible fees, and a cap on obfuscation possibilities such as limiting the length of the footer section of a credit card contract. Read more of this post

CCP Seminar: Unfair Competition

The CCP’s Spring seminar series continues on Friday 18th January as we welcome back from study leave our very own Christopher Wadlow (CCP and UEA Law School) who shall be presenting his latest research on ‘Unfair Competition‘. An abstract for his seminar can be found below.

Abstract

Two Worlds and Welcome to Them.
The double lives of Franz Bohm (1895-1977) and Rudolf Callmann (1892-1976).

Competition is sometimes portrayed as a race, a struggle, a game, or a fight to the death. Do any of these metaphors help us to understand competition, and its legal regulation, or do they mislead? This seminar will revisit a theory originated by Franz Bohm in Germany in the 1930s, and taken up by Rudolf Callmann in the USA, which attempted to provide an underlying theoretical model for a law of unfair competition.

Callmann’s theory of unfair competition was based on the proposition that there were two co-existing spheres of human activity: a (social) sphere of peaceful co-existence, and an economic sphere of (regulated) conflict. Rules of conduct accepted in the peaceful social sphere of life were inherently unsuited to the competitive economic sphere, where the primary objective of legal regulation was to promote competition as a good in itself, and only to moderate the competitive process if it failed, or threatened to get out of hand. The primary per se prohibitions were against monopolisation and cartelisation, but other proscriptions of anti-competitive conduct were valid, provided that their effect was to optimise the level of competitive activity, rather than to protect competitors against abstract or subjective ‘unfairness’.

These propositions may sound simple, even trivial. From my point of view in unfair competition law (rather than the body of law which has emerged as antitrust) I would rather say that they are touched with profundity, and that they undermine the stated or unstated bases of many of the elaborate ‘unfair competition’ laws with which I have any acquaintance.