This section is designed to keep an eye on competition and regulation issues. In particular we want to focus on whether policy makers and regulators focus on the consumer interest or just apply a set of rules based on assumptions about basic economic theory (monopoly bad, competition good).
In the UK the Competition Commission, an independent body takes responsibility for carrying out enquiries in this area and reporting any issues it identifies back to the Government. It was formed through the merger of the Monopolies & Mergers Commission and some elements of the Office of Fair Trading, who had separate responsibilities which may have resulted in consumer interest not being covered as a whole. The formation of the Competition Commission was designed to overcome this.
It's remit is to increase competition in the UK economy, thereby improving economic performance and productivity. It also sees its role as making markets work well for consumers, through lower prices, wider choice and in the long term innovation and higher quality in products.
It is interesting to note that the aims of increasing competition and consumer interest are seperate. The initial focus is clearly on the market structure rather than having a clear statement of what is and isnt in the consumer interest. It may not be in the consumer interest, for instance to have lower prices at the expense of less choice for all consumers. For instance, competition in postal services may lower prices in towns whilst leaving rural areas without daily deliveries.
Check back in this section as we develop evidence for the success of the Competition Commission in protecting consumer interest. Click on a link to the left to read our latest articles.