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Gas markets, regulation and politics: implications of the energy transition

Until recently, gas was seen in Europe as a complement to renewable energy—i.e. a cleaner (albeit costlier) alternative to coal. Since 2017, opinions have been changing, primarily as a result of stronger evidence on the pace of climate change. Nonetheless, as Sir Philip Lowe, Oxera Senior Adviser, explains, gas will continue to have an important role—albeit this is contingent on future innovation and the roll-out of gas investment, both of which in turn depend on politics and market regulation

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The puzzle of regulating pay: practical solutions for firms and supervisors

Implementing new regulatory standards for remuneration is challenging for the financial services sector. What are the underlying issues, and how can firms deal with them effectively? Peter Andrews, Senior Adviser, and Jonathan Haynes, Senior Consultant, explain the issues and propose some practical tools for firms and regulators

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Fairness and competition in online markets: friends or foes?

Fairness is emerging as an increasingly important policy goal across sectors. We set out a framework for assessing fairness concerns, and examine the relationship between the aims of competition policy and fairness in current debates. Do the European Commission’s platform-to-business initiative and reputation systems for sharing platforms lead to fairer processes? And do online price differentiation and negotiations between platforms and content creators lead to fair outcomes? What is the role of competition in all of this?

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Competition in the presence of network effects: when fewer is more

On 19 October 2018, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) cleared Post Office’s acquisition of Payzone UK’s bill payments systems business. While the merger took place in a two-sided market with network effects, the CMA found that the merger was likely to have procompetitive effects within the market for bill payments systems. The case illustrates some important principles that apply when considering mergers in the presence of network effects

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Fair ground: a practical framework for assessing fairness

Regulators are increasingly looking to firms to ensure that their practices are ‘fair’ in terms of the process followed (e.g. the type of data used) and the outcomes delivered (e.g. which consumers pay more). So, how can boards and senior managers satisfy themselves that practices are indeed fair and in line with their firm’s principles and risk appetite? We present Oxera’s practical framework, which has been used as a tool by senior decision-makers in financial services firms

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Stock-ing up: the design of equity trading markets in Europe

Equity markets, where investors buy and sell shares, are crucial to the European economy. Regulatory change has opened up competition, leading to more choice and lower trading fees, but also fragmentation and risks to price formation. There is an ongoing debate about the provision of market data services that often overlooks the links between market data services, trading and price formation. How is equity trading functioning from a market design and an end-investor perspective?

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A challenging initial assessment for the water companies in England and Wales

On 31 January, Ofwat published its Initial Assessment of Plans as part of the current water sector price control review in England & Wales. Ofwat categorised three companies’ business plans as ‘fast track’, meaning their proposals over 2020–25 are ready to implement. Four companies’ plans were categorised as needing significant scrutiny and substantial rework, and the remaining companies’ plans were categorised as ‘slow track’, needing to undertake further work on their plans. What are the cost-efficiency and finance aspects of this initial assessment?

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Death of an old star…evolution of a new one?

‘Superstar firms’ are increasingly dominating markets. Network effects may consolidate the position of these firms, but they can also help new entrants to undermine them. In some markets, network effects will both dampen competition ‘within’ the market and spur competition ‘for’ the market. Francesca Arduini, Oxera Analyst, argues that we can employ the framework of evolutionary game theory to derive four key policy insights into this topic

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Dealing with digital dominance: insights from Germany

The German government is looking at how competition law can better address abuse of dominance in digital markets. As part of this, an academic study has recommended giving authorities powers to intervene earlier and in additional settings where large platforms or valuable datasets are involved. How can these proposed reforms improve market outcomes while limiting the scope for unintended consequences?

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