Oxera

Inspiring better decisions through economics and finance

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Depiction of To tax or not to tax: will an online sales tax rebalance the retail sector?
9 minute read

To tax or not to tax: will an online sales tax rebalance the retail sector?

The growth of online sales has prompted debate around whether an online sales tax (OST) should be introduced to ‘rebalance’ the taxation of the retail sector. Indeed, the evolution of retailing in the UK has implications for several key government policy areas. We revisit the topic, which we explored in a 2020 Agenda article, in light of the recent launch of an HM Treasury consultation on the introduction of an OST. Read More

Articles
Depiction of Intel and the AEC test: ‘Do. Or do not. There is no try.’
8 minute read

Intel and the AEC test: ‘Do. Or do not. There is no try.’

After more than two decades, the Intel saga may have finally ended with the General Court’s judgment of 26 January 2022. The judgment—which had at its core the use of the ‘as-efficient competitor’ test in the context of loyalty rebates―confirms the critical role of robust economic analysis in abuse of dominance cases. We reflect on the implications going forward. Read More

Articles
Depiction of Malbeconomics: taking stock of the 20th anniversary of the 9.99 price point
6 minute read

Malbeconomics: taking stock of the 20th anniversary of the 9.99 price point

Developed economies are facing significant amounts of inflation for the first time in 25 years. Consumer prices, measured according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rose by 5.8% on average across OECD countries in the year to November 2021. Will Page, former Chief Economist at Spotify and author of Tarzan Economics, celebrates the 20th anniversary of the 9.99 price point and looks at the role that price points play in an inflationary environment. Read More

Articles
Depiction of Conglomerate mergers: are theory and practice aligned?
14 minute read

Conglomerate mergers: are theory and practice aligned?

Recent European Commission merger control practice suggests a renewed willingness to scrutinise conglomerate mergers. This is in stark contrast to the Commission’s past practice and to the US approach. In this article, we detail exactly how conglomerate mergers generate customer benefits, but also—under certain circumstances—how they may end up harming competition and consumers. We apply theory to practice by discussing the recent NVIDIA/Mellanox merger, and explore which novel theories the Commission may pursue in the future. Read More

Articles
Depiction of Bits of advice: the true colours of dark patterns
13 minute read

Bits of advice: the true colours of dark patterns

Dark patterns are deceptive online interface designs that are used to trick people into making decisions that are in the interests of the online business, but at the expense of the user. In this second article of our ‘bits of advice’ series on digital regulation, we dive into the economics behind dark patterns: what are they; what can economics teach us about how they work; how is digitalisation changing their costs and benefits in the eyes of businesses; and how can competition and consumer protection authorities respond? Read More

Articles
Depiction of Bits of advice: how to regulate data access
11 minute read

Bits of advice: how to regulate data access

Recent policy reports point towards differential access to data as a source of market power and a barrier to competition, especially (but not exclusively) in markets for digital services. One controversial policy solution currently being debated is mandated data-sharing. If this is the way forward, how should the regulation be designed? In this first article of a new series, we explore the merits and pitfalls of two classic regulatory approaches—rules-based and goals-based regulation—and what the best of both worlds might look like in the case of digital markets. Read More

Articles
Depiction of Non-fungible. Non-tangible. Still valuable?
10 minute read

Non-fungible. Non-tangible. Still valuable?

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are blockchain-based ownership certificates of all kinds of digital collectables—ranging from pixelated cats to canonical YouTube videos and even recordings of unique moments in sport. The market for NFTs has skyrocketed. But what are they exactly? And what is driving their value? With the help of Oxer-cat, the first Oxera NFT, we aim to answer these questions, and provide an overview of possible challenges and future developments for NFTs. Read More

Articles
Depiction of Theories of benefit: platform value creation and its relevance for the regulatory debate
12 minute read

Theories of benefit: platform value creation and its relevance for the regulatory debate

With the regulatory debate around platforms and competition focusing on the theories of harm to business users and consumers, there is a risk that the theories of the benefits of platforms are crowded out. Understanding how platforms generate value is crucial to ascertain the potential consequences of regulatory measures. Value generation by platforms has been studied in the IT and management literatures. Here we present findings from the literature, illuminating the debate around platform regulation. Read More

Articles
Depiction of 5G spectrum: the varying price of a key element of the 5G revolution
4 minute read

5G spectrum: the varying price of a key element of the 5G revolution

We share some reflections on the final results of the 5G UK auction following their publication by Ofcom on 27 April. The results confirm that the auction resulted in an efficient allocation of spectrum, in terms of lot sizes and contiguity/proximity of lots, and that the post-trading negotiations of… Read More

Articles
Depiction of Tipping: should regulators intervene before or after? A policy dilemma
11 minute read

Tipping: should regulators intervene before or after? A policy dilemma

In digital markets, platforms often reach a tipping point. When network effects are sufficiently strong, users are drawn towards the network with the highest number of other users, making it more attractive, until the market eventually tips in its favour. While there are benefits to market tipping, concerns regarding abuse of dominance may also arise, which, as discussed in this article, can present a dilemma for policymakers. Read More

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