Chillin'Competition

Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Sunday readings

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There’s generally a moment every Sunday in which I try to catch up reading newspapers and magazines that I haven’t had the time to check out during the week. I’m doing this right now (while, btw, I listen to great music that Nicolas recommended me yesterday) and I’ve come accross something which deserves a comment here.

Today’s edition of El Pais features an interesting piece by Paul Krugman called “Europe’s Economic Suicide” (originally published in The New York Times)  in which he argues that fiscal austerty imposed by Germany is pushing other Member States -and very particularly Spain- to the disaster. I cannot but agree with practically everything he says.

Krugman’s article has spurred a thought (not a brainy one; after all it’s Sunday):

It is funny (and funny may not be the adequate term)  to realize that the people in charge of getting the EU economy out of trouble are competition economists. I bet that a most of you reading this will immediately think of Mario Monti (former Competition Commissioner who is now Italy’s Prime Minister), of  Spain’s Minister for the Economy -Luis de Guindos-, who used to head of the competition authority, and maybe even of Spain’s Secretary of State for the Economy -Fernando Jimenez Latorre- who was also in charge of competition policy in Spain and who prior to his recent appointment directed NERA’s business in Spain.

What you may not know is that there is another well-known competition economist who is not in the first political line but who probably has even more influence on the European economy than any of the above-mentioned. This would be the person who inaugurated the Chief Economist post at DG COMP, Lars-Hendrik Röller, and whose current position is Economic Advisor to Chancellor Angela Merkel. A few months ago The Economist had a piece which read as follows: “Mrs Merkel may be lacking high-quality advice. Her newish economic adviser is Lars-Hendrik Röller, known for his writings on competition rather than high finance“.

I respect Röller as a competition economists and I believe he did well during his period at DG Comp but, to be frank, I think that him and the German government are not getting it right nowadays. This makes me share The Economist’s concerns that there might be different relevant markets for competition economics and for macro economics.

P.S. More on politics: the French presidential election is being held today. We are worried, because we have realized that apparently one of the candidates -Marine Le Pen- shares our concerns with regard to endives and cat food cartels and is campaigning on them (see here). Thanks to Caroline Si Bouazza for mentioning Chillin’Competition in her comments about this curious video!

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

22 April 2012 at 7:03 pm

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