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New Empirical Report Erodes Support for Claims of Google's Search Bias PDF Print E-mail
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A new report titled "Defining and Measuring Search Bias: Some Preliminary Evidence" has just been released.

Google has been the subject of persistent claims that its organic search results are improperly “biased” toward its own content. Among the most influential is an empirical study released earlier this year by Benjamin Edelman and Benjamin Lockwood, claiming that Google favors its own content “significantly more than others.” The authors conclude in their study that Google’s search results are problematic and deserving of antitrust scrutiny because of competitive harm.

A new report released by the International Center for Law & Economics and authored by Joshua Wright, Professor of Law and Economics at George Mason University, critiques, replicates, and extends the study, finding Edelman & Lockwood’s claim of Google’s unique bias inaccurate and misleading. Although frequently cited for it, the Edelman & Lockwod study fails to support any claim of consumer harm -- or call for antitrust action -- arising from Google’s practices.

Prof. Wright’s analysis finds own-content bias is actually an infrequent phenomenon, and Google references its own content more favorably than other search engines far less frequently than does Bing:

New Report Shows Systemic Biases in Philadelphia Court System as Pennsylvania General Assembly Prepares to Vote on Venue Reform PDF Print E-mail

Philadelphia civil courts have come under fire for attracting and favoring plaintiffs from outside the city at the expense of its consumers and businesses. A new study, entitled "Are Plaintiffs Drawn to Philadelphia’s Civil Courts? An Empirical Examination," issued by the International Center for Law & Economics and authored by Professor of Law and Economics at George Mason University School of Law, Joshua D. Wright, finds evidence that Philadelphia civil courts are indeed marked by structural biases that attract plaintiffs with little or no connection to the city, leading to disproportionate litigation and verdicts relative to other courts.

Using data from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, Professor Wright compares filing trends and case outcomes in Philadelphia to the rest of Pennsylvania and other representative state courts. As explained in greater depth in the paper, Philadelphia courts, when measured against non-Philadelphia Pennsylvania state courts and federal district courts, exhibit marked and significant dissimilarities supporting an inference that something intrinsically unusual is occurring in Philadelphia. Philadelphia courts host an especially large number of cases, Philadelphia courts have a larger docket than expected, Philadelphia plaintiffs are less likely to settle than other non-Philadelphia Pennsylvania plaintiffs, and Philadelphia plaintiffs are disproportionately likely to prefer jury trials. These findings are consistent with a conclusion that Philadelphia courts demonstrate a marked and meaningful preference for plaintiffs.

Here is the full report. Please This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you are interested in speaking with Professor Wright about the report or would like a comment on the report or the pending legislation.

Conference on the Economics and Regulation of Payment Card Interchange Fees PDF Print E-mail
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Coinciding with the release of the paper, ICLE, in conjunction with George Mason University's Mercatus Center, will be hosting a conference in Washington, DC, next week on the interchange fee debate.  For more information on the conference and to register, please click here.  The conference, to be held on June 9th from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Willard InterContinental Hotel, will cover both the politics and regulation of interchange fees, as well as the underlying economics of card networks and the place of the interchange fee in those networks.

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The Way We Should Pay: Comments on “The Way We Pay: Transforming the Canadian Payments System” PDF Print E-mail
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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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Todd Zywicki to Speak on Canadian Payment Systems PDF Print E-mail
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Tomorrow, Todd Zywicki, Academic Affiliate at the International Center for Law and Economics and a Foundation Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law, will speak on payment systems with particular concern to the Canadian context at a conference sponsored by the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto. The conference is titled “The Canadian Payments System: Ensuring Competition, Innovation and Stability” and will feature Patricia Meredith, the Chair of the Task Force for the Payments System Review in Canada, and Steve Rauschenberger, President of Rauschenberger Partners LLC, among others.

As the organizers notes, “Getting [payment systems] right will be integral to building a competitive, functioning and efficient payment system, with important consequences for industry and the Canadian economy as a whole.”

This conference comes on the heels of a recently released paper on the subject and is a continuation of the research he has been conducting for the International Center for Law and Economics’ Financial Regulatory Program White Paper Series, including his previous paper “The Economics of Payment Card Interchange Fees and the Limits of Regulation

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