Seminar Questions in Industrial Economics

This is an appendix to the case study "Skill Development in Industrial Economics" by Mark Bailey.

Contact: Mark Bailey
University of Ulster at Jordanstown (UUJ)
Published February 2004

Seminar 2

Read "An Economist's Guide to U.S. v. Microsoft" by Richard J. Gilbert and Michael L. Katz which was published in the Spring 2001 issue of Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Consider the following questions (some require extra research - use the internet)

  1. How do you define a market?
  2. What markets do you think that Microsoft have monopoly power in?
  3. If I give a product away, which was the case with Internet Explorer, how can I make excess profit if I make no revenue?
  4. What has happened since this article was written (which was about mid-2000)?
  5. What action is being taken against Microsoft in the EU?

Seminar 3

was a numerical piece of work on Cournot oligopoly.

Seminar 4

Read "Industrial Organization and Competition in the UK Tour Operator/Travel Agency Business, 1989-1993: An Econometric Investigation" by Brian Davies and Paul Downward which was published in the Journal of Travel Research in May 2001.

Consider the following questions.

  1. Do you think the industry is correctly defined? Justify your answer.
  2. What other variables do you think might be important to the analysis?
  3. Are there any outliers in the Top? What does this suggest about different strategic motives?
  4. Do you agree with the conclusions reached by the author? Justify your answer.

Seminar 5

Read "Self Regulation and Statutory Regulation" by Chris Doyle which was published in Business Strategy Review in Autumn 1997.

Consider the following questions (again some require extra research)

  1. Why is regulation necessary?
  2. What forms may it take and why?
  3. When can self regulation work?
  4. Does self regulation need statutory reinforcement on occasion? Explain.
  5. Use the case studies of financial services http://www.fsa.gov.uk/ and telecommunication http://www.oftel.gov.uk/ to identify the characteristics of effective statutory regulation.

Seminar 6

Read "The Competition Act", 2002.

The 2002 Competition Act in Ireland takes a different approach to the 1998 Competition Act in the United Kingdom.

  1. The Chairman of the Competition Authority (John Fingleton) claimed in a press conference on the occasion of the commencement of the main parts of the act on the 1st of July 2002. that "The 2002 Act marks a substantial step forward in the development of strong and proactive competition policy in Ireland. (http://www.tca.ie/speeches/2002speech.pdf)" Do you agree with this statement?
  2. Do you feel that the transfer the control of mergers from the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment to the Competition Authority is a good idea? Will it succeed in depoliticising decisions? You may wish to draw comparisons with the Monetary Policy Committee here.
  3. Do you agree with the policy of singling out hard-core cartels or should any competition infringement be punished severely on the basis that "mighty oak tress grow from small acorns"?

Seminar 7

Read "Predatory pricing standards: Is there a growing international consensus?" by Gunnar Niels & Adriaan ten Kate which was published in the Antitrust Bulletin in Fall 2000.

Consider the following questions

  1. It has been argued by some that "... evidence of subjective intent to predate is both hard to come by and often ambiguous. Though some have suggested it (subjective intent) is the only way to distinguish predation from competition, its reliability is questionable and so, as an independent basis for imposing liability, it is often deficient. In some cases of true predation, it will not be obtainable. In cases where there is no prospect of recoupment, intentional predation will not have an adverse effect on consumers. Indeed, consumers will benefit from low prices during the unsuccessful predatory campaign. The only risk is that an effective competitor in the market will be eliminated." If this is the case, do you think it is an efficient use of resources that predatory pricing is regulated.
    The above quote is taken from the VanDuzer Report: Anticompetitive Pricing Practices and the Competition Act: Theory, Law, and Practice published by the Competition Bureau of Canada in 1999.
  2. What is recoupment? How may we find evidence that it has or will have occurred?

Seminar 8

Read "Price Discrimination, regulation and entry in the UK Residential Electricity Market" by Jess Otero and Catherine Waddams-Price which was published in the Bulletin of Economic Research in 2001.

Consider the following questions (again some require extra research)

  1. What different types of price discrimination exist in the UK residential electricity market?
  2. How are the sub-markets segmented? Are there any opportunities for resale?
  3. How do regulators maintain a watch on prices? You may wish to look on relevant websites such as http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/ (UK) or http://www.ipart.nsw.gov.au/ (New South Wales, Australia) or http://www.reggen.vic.gov.au/ (Victoria, Australia) or http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/ (California, USA)

Seminar 9

Read "Public versus Private Ownership: The Current State of the Debate" by Mary M. Shirley and Patrick Walsh which was published as a World Bank Working Paper in Private Sector Development in 2000.

Consider the following questions.

  1. One means of comparing whether there is a differential performance between public sector and private sector firms in the same industry is by a comparison of their prices. What issues are likely to complicate such an analysis in the United Kingdom?
  2. What do we mean by information effects? How does this concept display itself in everyday life?
  3. To what extent do you feel that state monitoring provides additional information effects? Is the act of monitoring by itself likely to be sufficient? At what point can/should the state intervene either proactively or reactively? A consideration of how the Financial Services Agency handled the issue of how endowment insurance policies may not pay off mortgages is likely to be worthwhile here.
  4. To what extent do you feel that external factors, such as the efficiency of credit and financial markets, impact on the efficiency of privatised firms in transitional economies.
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