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Regulating oligopolies in telecoms: the new European Commission guidelines

In February 2018 the European Commission published draft guidelines on determining significant market power (SMP) in electronic communications markets. This is one of several policy developments in the regulation of these markets, which are increasingly oligopolistic rather than monopolistic. What are some of the new (and old) issues raised by these developments?

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The impact of state aid on competition: an economic framework for the European Commission

In December 2017 the European Commission published Oxera’s ex post assessment of the impact of state aid on competition, a study that could have significant implications for future state aid control. We first developed an economic framework that the Commission can use in state aid assessments to evaluate the competitive effects of the aid. We then applied the framework in four case studies, providing insights into the main drivers of the impact of aid on competition

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To mothball or not to mothball?

The current power generation shift from carbon-intensive energy sources towards carbon-neutral, intermittent sources such as wind and solar continues to be a priority throughout the EU. This transition has consequences for the efficient design of power markets. Jan Bouckaert, Oxera Associate and Professor of Economics at the University of Antwerp, and Geert Van Moer, PhD Fellow of the Flanders Research Foundation, and University of Antwerp, discuss recent research on the implications for investments in conventional power plants

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How did cats get the cream of the Internet?

Cat videos have won the Internet—Grumpy Cat, Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat fill our social media feeds. Why do people create these videos? What motivates them, and how does the cat video market work? Equally, why do we watch videos of cats rather than watching perceived higher-quality content such as opera or learning a language online?

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Ofwat’s PR19 methodology: what’s changed?

On 13 December 2017, Ofwat published its final methodology for how it will set prices for water companies in England and Wales from April 2020. This follows a consultation paper issued in July. In the final methodology, many of the policy decisions remain the same. However, Ofwat has now provided an initial view on the cost of capital. We look at this and other changes in its approach

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No free rides? Platform bans in light of the Coty case

Are there good reasons for manufacturers to prevent retailers from distributing their products through third-party online platforms? On 6 December 2017, the European Court of Justice delivered a ruling on Coty , finding that, under certain conditions, manufacturers of luxury brands can restrict sales through particular online channels without raising competition concerns. What is the economic case for and against such restrictions, and is the Court’s judgment consistent with the economics?

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How do you solve a problem like a merger?

There are growing concerns about large corporations dominating markets and economies, and calls on competition authorities to take a tougher stance on mergers and acquisitions. Are these concerns any different from those about large trusts a century ago, and those about conglomerates in the 1960s and 1970s? Does merger control require radical reform? Dr Gunnar Niels, Oxera Partner, shares some views

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De-stressing distressed investments: portfolio returns in restructuring aid cases

In the EU, state intervention to assist firms in financial difficulty is often justified by demonstrating that the aid is compatible based on the European Commission’s Rescue and Restructuring Aid Guidelines. However, these Guidelines impose restrictions on firms’ activities, which can tie the hands of the beneficiary, limiting the options to ensure a return to financial viability. But can state intervention be justified on commercial grounds by focusing on the state’s overall portfolio of assets?

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Moonshots and market failures: the economics of space

A variety of new and old companies are looking to invest in space applications. From space tourism to on-demand meteor showers for that special occasion, entrepreneurs and investors are trying to understand the economics of space. Investing in space technology is costly and uncertain, but has the potential to generate large economic gains, such as those enabled by GPS technologies, satellite photography and earth observation. What could possibly go wrong? Let’s explore that final frontier…

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Vertical contracts and their effects on the passing-on of overcharges

The passing-on of overcharges is a recurrent theme in competition law infringement cases. As purchasers further down the value chain are often affected by overcharges, contracts between direct and indirect purchasers are an important driver of this passing-on, and therefore the quantification of damages claims. Professor Markus Reisinger of the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management sets out how different forms of vertical contracts—and vertical restraints in general—affect who absorbs harm from antitrust infringements

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