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The future of merger control: hard Brexit, difficult questions?

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU raises complex issues of policy in many areas of public life. Merger review is no exception, with both EU and UK merger policy being affected. How should the UK’s competition authorities respond to increased demands on their resources in the short-to-medium term? What would be the long-term consequences of applying non-competition considerations in merger review?


To be fair: what does economic justice look like?

What is meant by economic (or distributive) justice has far-reaching implications for economic policies and their outcomes. However, in policymaking the interpretation is often implicit, with limited awareness and discussion of alternative concepts or their merits and drawbacks. What are these key concepts of economic justice, and what is their role in competition policy, regulation and regional state aid?


How systemically important are insurers? Empirical evidence and policy implications

Due to concerns about insurance companies posing systemic risk during financial crises, some of the largest global insurers have been classified as systemically important, alongside the banking sector, and are subject to additional prudential regulation. But how systemically important are they, and what is the appropriate regulatory approach? Professor Dr Christoph Kaserer, Technische Universität München and Oxera Associate, and Christian Klein, Technische Universität München, have explored these issues and identified important policy implications for the insurance sector


Energy scarcity: arrivederci?

Italy is expected to introduce a capacity market, given its increasing risk of retirement of flexible generation capacity and a consequent reduction in security of supply. Simona Benedettini, Regulatory and Competition Specialist, and Giordano Colarullo, General Manager, both at Utilitalia, the Italian utilities federation, look at the Italian electricity capacity mechanism and whether capacity markets are compatible with the European single market


Summoning the energy: consumers and competition

If energy consumers say they are happy, and there are several suppliers in the market, then the market is functioning well—right? Not necessarily. Identifying the existence and scope of behavioural biases allows for a better understanding of the drivers of competitive market indicators. How can behavioural economics influence competition in retail energy markets, and how can hypothesised biases be tested? We consider the topic with Australian markets as a case study


Efficient, abusive, or both? Ways to evaluate unilateral conduct

Efficiency arguments play a role in abuse of dominance investigations, but often only implicitly and at the end of the process. Established quantitative techniques can help to make efficiency analysis more integral in abuse cases. Such techniques are often considered by regulators when concluding regulatory settlements. Can competition authorities use them too?


Green signal for the Northern rail franchise: assessing mergers in passenger rail

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has completed its first in-depth (Phase 2) rail franchise case in over ten years—one of the largest it has ever dealt with. The investigation into the award of the Northern rail franchise to Arriva examined more than 1,000 local overlaps between Arriva’s bus services and Northern’s rail services, and over 150 rail–rail overlaps. Ultimately remedies were required on only three overlaps. What are the main insights?


Expert evidence: golden tips

Economists are increasingly used as experts in arbitration and court proceedings around the world. But how can tribunals and courts best deal with complex expert evidence, and how can litigating parties use experts most effectively? Sir Bernard Eder of Essex Court Chambers, former High Court judge in the UK, and now an arbitrator and International Judge at the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC), shares his ‘golden tips’


Financial resilience: demonstrating long-term viability for utilities

Company failure can impose costs on customers as well as society more broadly. To mitigate this, regulators have in recent years subjected companies’ business models to increased scrutiny to enable a broader set of stakeholders to assess risks to financial viability. Stress-testing has been embedded in the banking sector and is increasingly being used elsewhere—such as in the UK water sector


Contract theory in regulation: the in-betweener of risks and incentives

On 10 October 2016, Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström were awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for ‘their contributions to contract theory’. Their research has helped to define how contracts enable cooperation between parties with potentially conflicting incentives. Applications of this work can be found in many areas of society and policy, from employment contracts to corporate finance and governance. What has been its effect on regulation?

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