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Why We Need to Measure the Effect of Merger Policy and How to Do It

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  • Dennis W. Carlton

Abstract

In this article, I explain the inadequacy of our current state of knowledge regarding the effectiveness of antitrust policy towards mergers. I then discuss the types of data that one must collect in order to be able to perform an analysis of the effectiveness of antitrust policy. There are two types of data one requires in order to perform such an analysis. One is data on the relevant market pre and post merger. The second is data on the specific predictions of the government agencies about the market post-merger. A key point of this article is to stress how weak an analysis of only the first type of data is. The frequent call for retrospective studies typically envisions relying on just this type of data, but the limitations on the analysis are not well understood. As I explain below, retrospective studies that ask whether prices went up post merger are surprisingly poor guides for analyzing merger policy. It is only when the second type of data is combined with the first type that a reliable analysis of antitrust policy can be carried out. There is a need both to collect the necessary data and to analyze it correctly.

Suggested Citation

  • Dennis W. Carlton, 2009. "Why We Need to Measure the Effect of Merger Policy and How to Do It," NBER Working Papers 14719, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14719
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    1. Orley Ashenfelter & Daniel Hosken, 2008. "The Effect of Mergers on Consumer Prices: Evidence from Five Selected Case Studies," Working Papers 1037, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
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    Cited by:

    1. Orley Ashenfelter & Daniel Hosken & Matthew Weinberg, 2009. "Generating Evidence to Guide Merger Enforcement," CPI Journal, Competition Policy International, vol. 5.
    2. Brito, Duarte & Pereira, Pedro & Ramalho, Joaquim J.S., 2013. "Mergers, coordinated effects and efficiency in the Portuguese non-life insurance industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 554-568.
    3. Orley Ashenfelter & Daniel Hosken & Matthew Weinberg, 2014. "Did Robert Bork Understate the Competitive Impact of Mergers? Evidence from Consummated Mergers," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(S3), pages 67-100.
    4. Daniel Hosken & Louis Silvia & Christopher Taylor, 2011. "Does Concentration Matter? Measurement of Petroleum Merger Price Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 45-50, May.
    5. Davies, Stephen & Olczak, Matthew & Coles, Heather, 2011. "Tacit collusion, firm asymmetries and numbers: Evidence from EC merger cases," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 221-231, March.
    6. Robert Kulick, 2017. "Ready-to-Mix: Horizontal Mergers, Prices, and Productivity," Working Papers 17-38, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    7. Orley C. Ashenfelter & Daniel S. Hosken & Matthew C. Weinberg, 2015. "Efficiencies brewed: pricing and consolidation in the US beer industry," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 46(2), pages 328-361, June.
    8. Hüschelrath, Kai, 2009. "Methodologische Grundlagen einer Evaluation von Wettbewerbspolitik," ZEW Discussion Papers 09-084, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    9. Orley Ashenfelter & Daniel Hosken, 2010. "The Effect of Mergers on Consumer Prices: Evidence from Five Mergers on the Enforcement Margin," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(3), pages 417-466.
    10. Farrell Joseph & Shapiro Carl, 2010. "Antitrust Evaluation of Horizontal Mergers: An Economic Alternative to Market Definition," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-41, March.
    11. Mattia Guidi, 2011. "Does Independence Affect Regulatory Performance? The case of national competition authorities in the European Union," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 64, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
    12. Joseph Farrell & Paul Pautler & Michael Vita, 2009. "Economics at the FTC: Retrospective Merger Analysis with a Focus on Hospitals," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 35(4), pages 369-385, December.
    13. Nicholas Kreisle, 2015. "Merger Policy at the Margin: Western Refining’s Acquisition of Giant Industries," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(1), pages 71-89, August.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C01 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - Econometrics
    • K21 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Antitrust Law
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • L4 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies
    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices

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