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The Way We Should Pay: Comments on “The Way We Pay: Transforming the Canadian Payments System” PDF Print E-mail

We are pleased to announce the release of the second paper in the ICLE Financial Regulatory White Paper Series.  “The Way We Should Pay: Comments on The Way We Pay:Transforming the Canadian Payments System” was authored by Todd J. Zywicki, Academic Affiliate at the International Center for Law and Economics and Foundation Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law, and Philippe Bergevin, a Policy Analyst at the C.D. Howe Institute.

As outlined in the Task Force for the Payment System Review report, Canada’s payments system is falling behind. The thirty-year-old Interac system has facilitated widespread adoption of debit cards in Canada, but it is proving increasingly antiquated to the needs of a modern global economy. This paper explores the current state of the payment system in Canada within a global context and discusses the strong economic principles that should guide the work of the Task Force. Building on a robust framework of innovation and competition, it aims to positively orient the Task Force’s future decisions, while continually reaffirming the negative impact that can result from misaligned institutional incentives.

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If Search Neutrality Is the Answer, What's the Question? PDF Print E-mail

We are pleased to announce the first paper in our 2011 Antitrust and Consumer Protection White Paper Series, "If Search Neutrality is the Answer, What's the Question?" by Geoffrey A. Manne of Lewis & Clark Law School and ICLE, and Joshua D. Wright of George Mason Law School & Department of Economics and ICLE.

In this paper we evaluate both the economic and non-economic costs and benefits of search bias. In Part I we define search bias and search neutrality, terms that have taken on any number of meanings in the literature, and survey recent regulatory concerns surrounding search bias. In Part II we discuss the economics and technology of search. In Part III we evaluate the economic costs and benefits of search bias. We demonstrate that search bias is the product of the competitive process and link the search bias debate to the economic and empirical literature on vertical integration and the generally-efficient and pro-competitive incentives for a vertically integrated firm to discriminate in favor of its own content. Building upon this literature and its application to the search engine market, we conclude that neither an ex ante regulatory restriction on search engine bias nor the imposition of an antitrust duty to deal upon Google would benefit consumers. In Part V we evaluate the frequent claim that search engine bias causes other serious, though less tangible, social and cultural harms. As with the economic case for search neutrality, we find these non-economic justifications for restricting search engine bias unconvincing, and particularly susceptible to the well-known Nirvana Fallacy of comparing imperfect real world institutions with romanticized and unrealistic alternatives.

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