Why define markets in competition cases?

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP10/2013
 
Publication date: 2013
 
Author(s):
[protected email address] (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)
 
Abstract:

Competition policy investigations usually commence with a definition of the relevant product and geographic market. The relevant market provides a first evaluation of competitive conditions and allows for the calculation of market shares, which aids in the assessment of firms’ market power. Given its implications for assessing market power, the market definition in a competition case is frequently contested. Critics argue that market definition is often arbitrary and should be avoided. Instead, IO scholars argue that modern econometric methods are capable of directly estimating market power and competitive effects without the need for defining markets. We argue that market definition not only offers a valuable first screen for market power, but actually involves a substitution analysis that lies at the heart of any competition case. We argue that it is suboptimal to promote a single encompassing econometric model instead of the multi-faceted empirical approach underlying most market definition exercises in practice. In addition, we note that market definition involves much more than merely the estimation of price elasticities, which are in any event difficult to estimate in most competition cases.

 
JEL Classification:

L11, L40, L41, K21

Keywords:

market, market definition, market share, substitutability, price elasticity, antitrust, competition policy, mergers, monopolization

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BER Weekly

21 January
Domestically, markets were focused on the latest meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) last week. On the global front, the news flow was dominated by British political chaos associated with the Brexit debacle. Besides a brief overview of the MPC decision, the domestic section looks at the latest retail sales data,...

Read the full issue