Markets, Monopolies and Moguls: The relationship between inequality and competition

n the US, economists are starting to look at some of the specific ways competition policy could more explicitly target inequality. For example, by prioritising competition lawsuits with a direct consumer element (that is, over cases where those affected are primarily other businesses); designing remedies that advantage low-income consumers, and adopting inequality as a specific consideration on the checklist of factors considered in competition cases (as the Canadian Competition Tribunal has done since 2002).

Similarly, the decisions regulators make about mergers and pricing can have a direct impact on cost of living and service access for consumers. In Australia, our regulatory frames for competition are mostly blind to considerations of economic inequality.

Dr Andrew Leigh MP will present the Freebairn Public Lecture 2016 showing the kinds of problems this can create for consumers and governments, and will discuss what’s at stake if we don’t broaden the way we evaluate and define proper practice for our markets and mergers.