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Competition Policy and the Control of Buyer Power

A Global Issue

Peter C. Carstensen

This book provides a comprehensive overview of the economic and competition policy issues that buyer power creates. Drawing on economic analysis and cases from around the world, it explains why conventional seller side standards and analyses do not provide an adequate framework for responding to the problems that buyer power can create. Based on evidence that abuse of buyer power is a serious problem for the competitive process, the book evaluates the potential for competition law to deal directly with the problems of abuse either through conventional competition law or special rules aimed at abusive conduct. The author also examines controls over buying groups and mergers as potentially more useful responses to risks created by undue buyer power.
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Chapter 5: Competition policy for unilateral conduct by buyers

A Global Issue

Peter C. Carstensen

Extract

This chapter examines the actual and potential rules that can govern abusive unilateral conduct by buyers. It reviews existing laws on both exploitation and exclusion as well as the potential remedies available for such conduct. It concludes that there are serious impediments to effective definition of standards to govern such conduct as well as to remedy it. These difficulties are especially significant when the abuse is exploitive. Exclusionary abuses are more remediable but that requires a stricter standard than is currently used. Moreover, even such remedies may not restore workably competitive buying markets. The chapter also examines the potential for structure remedies, that is, restructuring the buyer side of the market, which, while promising in theory, are both unlikely and present serious problems of defining the conduct that would justify such intervention. The conclusion is that direct remedy for unilateral abuse of dominant buyer power is very difficult and so every effort should be made to avoid allowing such power to be created.

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