Agenda

Oxera’s monthly online publication
brings you leading-edge economic thinking
as it applies to business, law and regulation.

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Brexit: implications for the banking sector

The ease of international transfers is a central element of the EU banking system. So how is the UK’s forthcoming exit from the EU likely to affect investors, employees and customers of banks? Oxera Partner, Dr Luis Correia da Silva, looks at the areas that are likely to be affected and the scale of the impact


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The European mobile mergers controversy

As the European mobile market continues to experience high growth in customer usage of data services, but at best stagnation of revenues, how should mobile mergers be analysed? Marc Lebourges, Europe and Economics Regulation Director at Orange, follows his 2014 Agenda article by looking at these developments and the current situation for mobile operators. The article responds to the February 2017 Agenda article, ‘Mergers and innovation: fewer players, more ideas?’


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Behavioural remedies: the CMA’s approach to the Mastercard–VocaLink merger

11 April 2017 saw the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) clear Mastercard’s acquisition of VocaLink, the formerly bank-owned company that runs a large part of the payment infrastructure in the UK. This was one of the few cases in the UK that has received Phase 1 clearance with non-structural undertakings. This article gives an overview of the CMA decision and some of the lessons from it


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Class actions: the end of the road for mobility scooters

In 2016 Dorothy Gibson made legal history by being the first representative to bring an action for competition damages under the UK’s new ‘opt-out’ collective proceedings regime. What can that case, which was ultimately withdrawn in May 2017, tell us about the economic and legal issues that will be central to these new class actions in the future?


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Hard shoulder: using behavioural nudges to reduce congestion

Road congestion is expensive and inconvenient, but measures to alleviate it can be politically unpopular. Behavioural economics can help by proposing congestion mitigation policies that nudge individuals towards socially optimal travel decisions. How does the framing of information and incentives affect travel decisions, and when are interventions most likely to influence long-term behaviour? We look at how policymakers can use nudges to reduce urban congestion


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Using conjoint analysis in merger cases: a competition practitioner’s perspective

If applied correctly, conjoint analysis can be a powerful tool in merger cases, as it can overcome the artificial nature of hypothetical ‘what-if’ questions. The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has used this survey technique in six merger cases to date. Marinus Imthorn, Ron Kemp and Ivo Nobel of the ACM illustrate how it can be used effectively to estimate customer behaviour, and share some lessons from their experience


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Shrinkflation! A bite missing?

While the price of a Toblerone bar has not changed in recent years, its size has—between 2009 and 2010, a standard bar became 30g lighter (from 200g to 170g), and by 2016 it had shrunk to 150g. What factors lead a firm to pass on a cost shock by changing the size of a product rather than its price? And what effect does this have on consumers and inflation statistics?


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The policy of truth? Deception in markets and in public policy

Political manipulation of voters is nothing new. However, ‘post-truth’ politics arguably takes matters to a new level. Behavioural economics has developed a framework for examining how people can be deceived in markets and whether the market corrects for this. So how might behavioural economics and ‘post-truth’ be regarded as two sides of the same coin? We examine ways in which people can be manipulated through deception—and the potential remedies


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Small number, big impact: the productivity factor for energy networks in Germany

The German Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur, BNetzA) is currently determining the general productivity factor (Xgen) for all electricity and gas networks in Germany. This factor is intended to reflect the productivity gains that an efficient network operator would be expected to achieve as a result of technological progress or cheaper inputs. In a project for Germany’s utility association, BDEW, Oxera used advanced methods to calculate a general productivity factor for German energy networks of around 0% 


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Should we be cross about cross-subsidies? Experience from the financial services sector

Cross-subsidies, where one group of consumers pays a higher amount so that the price paid by another group can be reduced, are common in many markets. But the practice may raise concerns about whether firms are exploiting those consumers who pay more, and can lead to calls for competition authorities or regulators to intervene. How might we assess whether cross-subsidies represent a problem? We look at examples from the consumer credit sector


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