The chamber was pleased to welcome Professor Tommaso Valletti, Chief Competition Economist of the European Commission (Directorate General for competition) at this lunch briefing to discuss the current challenges in antitrust and economics.
Professor Valletti openly discussed a wide variety of topics during this briefing. Hearing the point of view and insight from such a high level speaker is always extremely valuable for our members, and the discussion was thus very informative. Our members and Professor Valletti first spoke about the current state of competition, which is increasingly being challenged by a number of factors, including data privacy. Competition has been and still is going through changes, for instance in regard to large scale market consolidations in both tech and B2B markets today.
General trends were presented during the briefing: there have been increases in concentration since the 1980’s, as well as increases in margins. However, this was accompanied by a decrease in the percentage of companies’ GDP that goes to workers. There has also been an increase in margins in both the tech and B2B markets. Competition also has the potential to play a greater social role and to help tackle widening wealth inequality. In addition, the solution for economic downturns can actually lie in competition, but can be challenging to explain.
The discussion also touched upon digital platforms and tech. Some recent cases were discussed, such as the Facebook-WhatsApp Acquisition. The unfair practices Facebook engages in, such as monitoring apps and websites and acquiring them before they become popular, are problematic and the Commission is looking for new ways to catch these “killer acquisitions”. In that regard, lowering thresholds might be a possible reform.
Chief Economist, DG Comp | European Commission
Tommaso Valletti is the Chief Competition Economist. Tommaso’s main research interests are in industrial economics, regulation, and telecommunications economics. He has held several editorial positions and has published influential articles in top academic journals such as the American Economic Review, Economic Journal, Information Systems Research, Journal of the European Economic Association, Journal of Industrial Economics, Marketing Science, and RAND Journal of Economics. He is Professor of Economics at Imperial College Business School in London, and also Professor of Economics at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. He has previously taught at the London School of Economics, Telecom ParisTech/Ecole Polytechnique, and Turin. He has a magna cum laude degree in Engineering from Turin and holds a MSc and a PhD in Economics from the London School of Economics. Tommaso is a Fellow of CEPR and of ENCORE. He was a member of the panel of academic advisors of Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, as well as a member of the panel of academic advisors of the UK Competition Commission. He was a board director of Consip, the Italian Public Procurement Agency.