Edited by Paul Cook, Colin Kirkpatrick, Martin Minogue and David Parker
Chapter 1: Competition, regulation and regulatory governance: an overview
Paul Cook, Colin Kirkpatrick, Martin Minogue and David Parker INTRODUCTION Recent years have seen a movement away from state ownership towards more reliance on private markets to supply goods and services, including goods and services traditionally supplied by the state, such as telecommunications, water and electricity. These markets can be competitive, highly oligopolistic or even monopolistic. Where privatisation is associated with the creation of private monopoly then some form of continued state regulation is required to protect consumers from monopoly abuse. In cases where markets are oligopolistic or even competitive, state regulation may still be necessary to prevent the abuse of a dominant position, the creation of cartels, and in other ways to protect consumers through developing an effective ‘competition policy’. Moreover, state regulation is also adopted internationally to protect society in the form of the regulation of working conditions, product quality, the environment, health and safety and the like. Indeed, in North America and the EU the regulation of markets has expanded at the same time as industries have been privatised (Blundell and Robinson, 2000). Therefore, contrary to the ambitions of leading advocates of ‘privatisation’, such as Milton Friedman in economics and Margaret Thatcher in politics, the ‘frontiers of the state’ have not been so much ‘rolled back’, but have been reshaped and redirected since the 1970s. This is evidenced, for example, in the shares of gross domestic product (GDP) controlled by the state in OECD countries, which have remained fairly stable. The picture is much the same in...
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