Property rights are an essential economic institution. As the great UCLA economist Harold Demsetz famously argued, property rights spur specialization, investment, and competition, which in turn increase productivity, innovation, and wealth throughout the economy.
Last month, the European Commission slapped another fine upon Google for infringing European competition rules (€1.49 billion this time). This brings Google’s contribution to the EU budget to a dizzying total of €8.25 billion (to put this into perspective, the total EU budget for 2019 is €165.8 billion).
How does a market’s structure affect innovation? This crucial question has occupied the world’s brightest economists for almost a century, from Schumpeter who found that monopoly was optimal, through Arrow who concluded that competitive market structures were key, to the endogenous growth scholars who empirically derived an inverted-U relationship between market concentration and innovation.