The Political Economy of Competition Policy

I have completed several working papers that examine the politics of regulation, with a focus on competition policy.

 

In one paper, "Varieties of Neoliberalism and the Atlantic Divide in Antitrust," [R&R from Socio-Economic Review] which is drawn from the book project, I explain why anti-dominance rules are now more intensively enforced in the European Union compared to the United States, in contrast to the pattern at mid-century. Differences in economic structures, economic interests, the independence of political institutions, and the authority of economists cannot fully account for the divide. Using a statistical comparison of enforcement actions and judicial review, and a comparative case study of the American and European antitrust investigations of Google, I provide evidence that, at least in the area of unilateral conduct, antitrust regulation is structured by different institutionalized conceptions of the nature of competition within capitalism, which are rooted in distinct schools of neoliberal thought. The paper has received 

 

In "Legalism without Adversarialism: Public and Private Enforcement in the European Union," [R&R from Regulation & Governance]  I examine the extent to which European integration has encouraged more adversarial regulatory approaches, as predicted by a number of scholars. Examining EU legislation and the pattern of public and private enforcement in the competition and securities fields, two policy areas where adversarial litigation is seen as most likely to develop, I find that the European Union has not encouraged the private enforcement of public law. European directives and regulations promote administrative enforcement through vertically coordinated networks of independent regulatory agencies, a regulatory style closer to bureaucratic legalism. In practice, public enforcement through administrative action has grown much more rapidly than private enforcement, which remains infrequent in most European jurisdictions. The paper highlights how the diffusion of regulatory legalism in Europe has been mediated by the European Council’s veto power, the negative feedback effects of the U.S. experience with entrepreneurial litigation, and the inertia of European legal and bureaucratic traditions.

 

A third project, entitled "The Protectionist Politics of Globalized Regulatory Enforcement: Cartel Enforcement and Foreign Firms," investigates whether globalized regulatory enforcement has been used to promote local prerogatives in integrated markets.  Drawing from a new database of cartel enforcement that covers 7,000 regulatory sanctions in 35 OECD countries, and a penalty measure that takes into account the cartel’s economic size and harm, I use multilevel regression analysis to show that foreign firms are systematically subjected to more severe penalties. However, I find that foreign discrimination is less pronounced in countries with robust systems of judicial review. In countries where courts are more involved in competition enforcement actions, regulators assess penalties on foreign firms that are much closer to those assessed on domestic companies. Such findings suggest that the design of regulatory processes can moderate the effects of economic patriotism on globalized regulatory enforcement.