Apple’s jack and incumbent vertical market power

  Apple’s controversial decision to remove the universal 3.5mm audio jack from its just-released iPhone 7 has several economic dimensions. All of them are a consequence of Apple’s proprietary architecture (colloquially known as “Steve’s walled garden”) and the extent to which Apple is trying to/able to exercise incumbent vertical market power. How much market power … More Apple’s jack and incumbent vertical market power

House Energy and Power Subcommittee takes a look at the Federal Power Act; one small suggestion for reform

As had been announced in June of this year, the Energy and Power subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives is devoting some time to a deep look into the Federal Power Act (FPA). At the time of the June announcement the committee sent a letter to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) saying: As you know, the … More House Energy and Power Subcommittee takes a look at the Federal Power Act; one small suggestion for reform

Pharmaceuticals and multi-layered government-granted monopoly

Mylan’s price increase of the EpiPen in late August has caused consternation and a lot of debate about the reasons why Mylan has been able to increase the EpiPen price so dramatically above its production cost. Don’t forget that production cost includes the time and resources that comprise FDA compliance costs, even for generics like … More Pharmaceuticals and multi-layered government-granted monopoly

Planet Money buys oil, loses about $800 on the deal, and makes some great podcast journalism

The NPR economics podcast Planet Money offers a great five-part introduction to the oil business and the place it plays in our economy. Along the way they offer insights into prices and market processes, innovation and industry change, and the many uses of fossil energy. The five part series does not go deep, but the reporters do cover the … More Planet Money buys oil, loses about $800 on the deal, and makes some great podcast journalism

Elasticity of supply reduces hotel price spikes

Major sporting events can substantially boost demand for hotel rooms and, given the difficulty of building new hotels on short notice, lead to price hikes and consumer complaints about price gouging. As I wrote four years ago, “Super Bowls usually produce price gouging complaints,” but the complaints were especially high that year given the selection … More Elasticity of supply reduces hotel price spikes

Smart meters help consumers avoid wasting money on energy efficiency

Analysis of a randomised-controlled trial on a sample of almost 2500 Irish households revealed one surprising result: compared to the control group, households provided with a smart meter, detailed feedback on usage, and time-of-use pricing reduced investment in energy efficiency projects. While this unexpected development appears treated by the researchers as an embarrassment to be overcome, the result should … More Smart meters help consumers avoid wasting money on energy efficiency