Pointers for a virtual toolkit

There are some amazing things out there.  Doubtless, you already know how to find the ACCC’s website, but here are a few other sites chock full of useful information.

  • Australian Competition Law: a comprehensive list of resources relating to Australia’s competition laws, and accompanying blog. Very useful for following proposed legislation.
  • Industrial Organization: A Strategic Approach: this seminal economic textbook by Jeffrey Church and Roger Ware can be downloaded in its entirety.
  • The Antitrust Revolution: includes links to case studies of American antitrust cases, as published in earlier editions of Kwoka and White’s well-known book.
  • The Melbourne Law School’s Competition Law and Economics Network: CLEN is a network of academics (legal and economic), practitioners and regulators, and its website lists details of upcoming events, papers and research projects. A particular highlight is this mock “hot tub” (available via YouTube), showing how expert evidence is often given in Australia.
  • Senate Economics References Committee: not the easiest website to navigate, but once you can find the SERC’s reports, you’ll find them really interesting.
  • Department of Treasury: Treasury might be described as the “faceless man” of Australian competition policy. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on its website for developments – see for example its Consumer page (with a range of useful links), as well as its list of Reviews and Inquiries and Consultations and Submissions.
  • Productivity Commission: another faceless man! Great, if lengthy, reports (often focused on particular industries) that often shape changes to the law.
  • International Competition Network: the ICN was established at the turn of the millennium as the only international body devoted exclusively to competition law enforcement, and now has more than 100 competition authorities as its members. There is a lot of gumf on the site, but some gems as well.
  • OECD Competition: you’ll never run out of interesting reading so long as you have access to the OECD’s Competition page. Just make sure you keep note of the document numbers, as it can be painful to try to track things down again. The Working Papers on Competition are particularly valuable.
  • The EC’s Competition Directorate: again, you have to look hard to find things, but the Europeans love writing reports about competition matters so you’ll find plenty of interesting stuff here.
  • The Antitrust Source: the American Bar Association’s home of antitrust and consumer protection articles and features, offering in-depth analysis of developments in law and policy, interviews, and reviews of books and papers.

What we’re reading now (or would like to)

  • Generator market power (TSoC Issue 5)

AEMC website: Potential Generator Market Power process; NEM Reliability Settings (changing the market price cap); and Review of Energy Market Frameworks in light of Climate Change Policies.

AER on South Australia: for a detailed description of the AER’s concerns with South Australian prices, see its submission of 27 May 2011 to the AEMC (in particular, the consultant reports set out in Attachments 1, 2 and 3 to the submission).  Also, see the AER’s 1 August 2012 response to the AEMC draft determination.

Good faith bidding rule: the good faith bidding rule in clause 3.8.22A was introduced in response to market power concerns following large price spikes in Victorian spot prices during the summer of 2000/2001.  For the 2002 rule changes that introduced clause 3.8.22A, see ACCC Authorisations A90797, A90798 and A90799. For an inside account of what happened during the summer of 2000/2001 and an analysis of whether or not this indicated market power, see AGL v ACCC (No3) [2003] FCA 1525.  For the first case law on clause 3.8.22A in the context of rebidding to raise spot prices, see AER v Stanwell [2011] FCA 991.

Early economic work on generator market power: see Borenstein, Bushnell and Knittel, “Market Power in Electricity Markets: Beyond Concentration Measures”, (1999) 20(4) The Energy Journal; and Borenstein, “Understanding Competitive Pricing and Market Power in Wholesale Electricity Markets”, (July 2000) Electricity Journal (Competition Policy Centre) – note the discussion of opportunity cost in this paper.

Interesting international material:  New Zealand Commerce Commission, Investigation into New Zealand Electricity Markets, May 2009 (this includes the detailed report by Professor Frank Wolak referred to in TSoC Issue 5); and  Structure and Performance of Six European Wholesale Electricity Markets in 2003, 2004 and 2005, Part IV – Cross Country Comparison and Conclusions, London Economics in association with Global Energy Decisions February 2007. This study, which was part of the 2005-2007 European Commission Energy Sector Inquiry, involved data collection and analysis on an unprecedented scale in the field of electricity-economics.  This included looking at a mix of measures – Hirfindahl-Hirschmann index, residual supply index and the pivotal supplier indicator, the Lerner Index and Price-Cost Mark-Ups, as well as an assessment of contributions to fixed costs under the theoretical “competitive price” and investment signals.

  • Competitive neutrality in Australia is not dead – who knew? Have a look here for further information.
  • Dennis Carlton writes really interesting pieces, particularly in relation to technology and emerging markets. He also happens to maintain a site with links to many of his work.
  • The Senate Economics References Committee wrote a really interesting report on the effect of recent conduct by Coles and Woolworths on the dairy industry.
  • And not strictly related to Competition Law, but Alexandra has recently discovered There are some amazing lectures here, including this great one on SOPA and PIPA (proposed US legislation dealing with intellectual property).  Likewise, Rachel is a great fan of the Khan Academy, which has an eclectic range of informative lectures including on microeconomics