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1.The US Department of Justice has recently announced that StarKist has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of price-fixing in relation to a conspiracy with officials from other tuna companies to fix the price of canned tuna that ran from at least late 2011 to late 2013 and came to light in 2015.  The company faces a potential fine of $100 million.  The canned tuna market in the US has long been dominated by the following three companies: StarKist, Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee.  Bumble Bee agreed to plead guilty in May 2017 and paid a fine of $25 million.  Chicken of the Sea has not been charged because prosecutors say the company exposed the scheme and co-operated with the investigation.

  • Describe the facts of this case in relation to what the companies involved were doing to implement the anti-competitive scheme.

  • Raw tuna is an input for the production of canned tuna.  Explain your expectation with respect to what the normal relationship should be between the price of raw tuna and the price of canned tuna.  Explain the relationship between the price of raw tuna and the price of canned tuna in this case and describe how this relationship played a role in the anti-competitive conspiracy being exposed.

  • Describe how Merger & Acquisition activity among suppliers in this market impacted competition and played a role in the price-fixing activities being exposed.

  • Describe how the collusion and price-fixing in this case impacted consumers in the US market.

2.The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recently announced an inquiry into price competition among providers of foreign exchange services to consumers and small businesses.

  • Describe how the cost of sending money overseas from Australia in relation to other G20 countries played a role in this inquiry being commenced.

  • Identify the four largest banks in Australia and the three largest online money transfer companies and describe how complaints about these firms played a role in the inquiry being commenced.

  • Describe generally how the inquiry will be conducted with specific reference to the range of issues to be addressed.

3.The European Union regulates Competition among suppliers to European consumers.  This competition policy is designed to apply rules to make sure companies compete fairly with each other.

  • Describe the reasons why the EU has adopted these policies and the tools available to fight anti-competitive behavior.

4.In 2017, the European Commission imposed a €2.4 billion penalty after finding that Google had used its dominant search engine to skew the market in favor of its internet shopping service.  Google is appealing against this decision.

  • Describe the EU’s allegations against Google in this case and explain why these activities would have a negative effect on competition and consumers if true.

  • Describe Google’s defenses and explanations in response to the EU’s case.

5.The European Union has recently imposed a record penalty on Google in the amount of €4.34 billion over “serious illegal behavior” to secure the dominance of its search engine on mobile phones.  Google is appealing against this decision.

  • Describe the EU’s allegations against Google in detail and explain why these activities would have a negative impact on competition and consumers if true.

  • Describe Google’s defenses and explanations in response to the EU’s case.

6.Swiss luxury conglomerate Richemont, owner of Cartier, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin and other brands, revealed recently that it is struggling to emerge from a sharp pullback from Chinese consumers that shocked the industry a few years ago.  A major part of the problem is that a change in policy by the Chinese government to reduce corruption has resulted in a sharp decline in demand for luxury Swiss watches.

  • Describe the importance of demand from Chinese consumers to the manufacturers of luxury Swiss watches, include estimates of the percentage total production that ends up being sold in the Chinese market.

  • Describe the new policies implemented by the Chinese government to limit “gifting” of watches to grease the wheels of Chinese bureaucracy and business and the 

  • corresponding impact this has had on demand for luxury Swiss watches in the Chinese market.

  • Describe the steps that can be taken by Richemont and other suppliers of luxury Swiss watches to support prices, protect profit margins and buttress the perceived value of timepieces that can cost more than a new car.

7.As we discussed previously in class, concerns around oil supply drove the price of oil to a four-year high above $85 per barrel in early October.  Since then, oil prices have fallen below $70 per barrel as concerns around oil supply have faded away.

  • Describe the circumstances around the fact that concerns about the supply of oil have recently faded away.  At a minimum, be sure to describe the circumstances related to the following oil producing countries:
    • United States
    • Saudi Arabia
    • Iraq
    • Iran
    • Russia

8.Apple is one of the world’s most successful and profitable companies.  The company has recently announced a series of updates across its product lines along with new pricing strategies that seem designed to extend product life cycles and maintain growth in revenue and profit margins as the products mature.

  • Describe the Product Life Cycle and its various stages.

  • Describe steps taken by Apple to extend the Product Life Cycle for each of the following products:
    • Macs
    • iPhones
    • iPads
    • iWatches

  • Describe the pricing strategies being implemented by Apple and explain the likely impact on quantities demanded for the following products:

    • Macs
    • iPhones
    • iPads
    • iWatches

Price-fixing in the Canned Tuna Market in the US

1.The companies were fixing prices so as to extend the market prices of products highly with an intention of dominating the market by earning higher profits. The companies intended to reduce or prevent market competition that could low down their sales. This is can be considered as an anti-competitive practice (Kilian & Lutz, 2009).

The shift in the price of canned tuna will greatly lead to a change in the price of raw tuna. If the price of canned tuna increases, then the price of raw tuna will also increase. Also, if the price of canned tuna reduces, then the price of raw tuna will also reduce because the two work hand in hand. (Kilian & Lutz, 2009).

Merger and Acquisition activities among suppliers in this market led to the dominance in the market of canned tuna. Also, the companies were in the position to control distribution and also rationalize production. Therefore, the companies were in the position to fix their prices in the market so as to increase their earnings (Kilian & Lutz, 2009).

In the US market, collusion and price-fixing impacted consumers by; increasing the prices of goods which leads to their decline in the purchasing power. Also, collusion and price fixing led to the deadweight loss in the US market (Tang & Xiong 2012).

2.The cost of sending money overseas form Australia in regard to other G20 countries has led to financial cuts and constraints via successive governments. This has led to the formation of the diplomatic network among the G20countries which is deficient and leaves out Australia within the economies of the G20 countries.

The four largest banks in Australia include the following; Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, Weptac Banking Corporation and ANZ Banking Group. Also, major online money transfers companies include; currency fair, "Term of reference”. The complaints of the firms created much concentration on the financial sector that the banks benefit from through financial motorization and financial stability promotion (Filardo & Lombardi 2018).

The price competition among providers of foreign exchange services to the customer and small businesses in Australia will involve extensive analysis and investigation such as public consultation. Also, the inquiry will aim at examining why the exchange rate Google are not the exchange rates got form "Big four banks" (Filardo & Lombardi 2014).

3.The EU has adopted the competition policy with an intention of maintaining the market competition within the single markets of Europe through regulating anti-competitive acts by big companies. The EU has implemented the following tools to fight anti-competitive behavior; liberation, state liberation, cartels, and Antitrust (Kilian & Lutz, 2009).

4.The European Union allegations indicate that Google abused the dominance of internet search in the European market by only its online shopping market. The activities would push Google competitors down whenever searches are done in that they can’t be seen by their customers (Auffhammer et al 2008).

Google defended and responded to the European case by claiming their intention was to full fill their wish. In this case, Google claimed that both their advertisers and customers wanted them to control their search engines (Chari & Christiano 2017).

Inquiry into Price Competition among Providers of Foreign Exchange Services in Australia

5.European Union allegations against Google involved the illegal practices that were performed regarding "Android mobile devices" with an intention of strengthening Google dominance of the search engine. These activities would lead to the dominance of Google of the search engine. The activities have not given a chance other companies to compete for innovation on the market(Chari & Christiano 2017).

Google responded to the EU case by claiming that the commission described its competitors too small and illustrates that Google operates in a big market. The claims that if the EU implements the policy, it would lead to the production of the poor result from search engines making their solution unjustified (Chari & Christiano 2017).

6.In the past years, China was the leading driving force of the rapid growth for Luxury Swiss watches until recently when it changed. The exported luxury Swiss watches by 2014 was at 6.3%. Recently, the growth in the exportation of Swiss watches increased by SFr fourteen million from Sfr forty-five million (Davig et al 2015).

In order to limit gifting of watches, the government of China implemented various policies such as; anti-corruption policy, this policy limits the spending and giving of watches among government officials. As a result of the government corruption policy, the sales of Swiss Luxury watches has reduced by a quarter (Davig et al 2015).

In order to support prices and protect profit margins, Richemont and other suppliers are supposed to adopt the following steps; first, adjusting their sales goals so as to reflect their several objectives. Second, establishing discount policies to its customers, the companies are required to establish various company policies to achieve sales (Chari & Christiano 2017).

7.United States

The prices of United States crude oil have reduced by 3% due to the geopolitical concerns in the market for oil. In addition, the prices of crude oil had risen in the US but later it was lifted by the decline in the drilling practices in the US. The oil prices hit the United States by $80 for each barrel as geopolitics created fears leading to the disruption of product supply (Chari & Christiano 2017).

Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, the prices of oil have declined from $113 to $50 for each barrel. The collapse of oil prices in Saudi Arabia is estimated at 60%. The decline in the price of Oil in Saudi Arabia is associated with geopolitical factors such as wars and foreign policies. Considerably, the world demand for oil is estimated at only ninety-two million barrels per day whereby Saudi Arabia is supposed to supply forty percent of the total demand (Gerald & Smith 2012).

Iraqi

Iraq is continuously facing the problem of reduced prices of oil. Despite the old statistics from Iraqi export and production that indicates an increase in the prices of Oil, the country is still facing the problem of fading oil prices. The fading of oil prices is related to the blocking of oil production by the government in the north of the country (Hamilton & James, 2008).

Competition Policy in the European Union

Iran

The prices of Oil in Iran are considered to have faded by at least twenty-five percent whereby each barrel costs $45. The challenges facing Iran's oil supply is not only an effect of the current conditions in the oil market but also the local political conditions (Chari & Christiano 2017).

Russia

The decline of fading oil prices in Russia cannot be directly observed but it creates various impacts on the economy by worsening the country's' geopolitical situation. In addition, the situation leads to the introduction of the economic crisis in the economy of Russia (Stock et al, 2007).

8.The products of Apple have gone through various stages and Product Life Cycle that is to say; introduction, growth. Maturity and decline stages. At the introduction stage Apple has "iPhone XR and XS". At the growth stage, Apple has "iPhone X" which is experiencing high market increase and sales. At the maturity product life cycle, Apple has “iPhone 8". iPhone 4, 5, 6, and 7 are at the decline stage of Apple in the product lifecycle (Gong & Muluan 2012).

IPhones:

Apple has introduced iPhone SR and Sx so as that replaced iPhone X so which is already in the growth stage of the product lifecycle.

iwatch

Apple has introduced the latest iWatch version "iWatch Series 4" that replaced "iwatch series 3".

Mac

In 2018, MacBook introduced a new MacBook known as "MacBook air" that replaced MacBook Pro. Therefore, MacBook air is now in the introduction stage and MacBook Pro is in the growth stage.

iPad

This year, Apple has introduced a new version of iPad "12.9-inch iPad pro (2018)". The iPad has replaced "11-inch iPad Pro (2018)" which is in the growth stage

iPhone: The pricing of the new Apple iPhone XS is $1,449 and iPhone XR is starting at $749. Therefore, this pricing strategy for apple may slightly reduce the demand for the products unless some discounts are offered.

iPad: The latest iPad pro costs around $800. This is quite cheap compared to iPhones. Therefore, the demand for iPad is expected to increase hence increasing the sales of Apple.

iwatch: The latest watch series 4 costs $399. This pricing will increase the demand of i Watches because it is favorable as compared to other watches such as Roles.

Mac: The recently introduced MacBook Air cost $1,199. This price strategy is quite favorable compared to the features of the product. Therefore, the product is expected to experience high demand (Gerald & Smith 2012)

References

Alquist, Ron, and Lutz Kilian. 2008. “What Do We Learn from the Price of Crude Oil Futures?” Working paper, University of Michigan.

Chari, V V and L Christiano .2017: “Financialization in commodity markets”, NBER Working Paper, no 23766.

Davig, T, N C Melek, J Nie, A L Smith and D Tuzemen.2015: “Evaluating a year of oil price volatility”, Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Third Quarter

Filardo, A and M Lombardi.2014: “Has Asian emerging market monetary policy been too procyclical when responding to swings in commodity prices?”, BIS Papers, no 77, pp 129−153.

Filardo, A, M Lombardi, C Montoro and M Ferrari.2018: "Monetary policy spillovers, global commodity prices, and cooperation", BIS Working Papers, no 696.

Gerald E. Smith, 2012, Emergent Pricing Strategy, in Gerald E. Smith(ed.) Visionary Pricing: Reflections and Advances in Honor of Dan Nimer (Advances in Business Marketing and Purchasing, Volume 19) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.103 – 126

Gong, Ting and Muluan Wu 2012, `A report on China's corruption from 2000 to 2009: an analysis of over 2000 reported cases', Sociology Research 4, 204220.

Hamilton, James,2008. “Commodity Prices and the Fed,” Econbrowser  

Kilian, Lutz,2009. “Not All Oil Price Shocks Are Alike: Disentangling Demand and Supply Shocks in the Crude Oil Market,” American Economic Review 99:3 1053–1069.

Stock, James, and Mark Watson,2007. ìWhy Has Ináation Become Harder to Forecast?î Journal of Money, Credit and Banking 39:Suppl. s1 3ñ33.

Tang, K. and Xiong, W.2012. Index investment and financialization of commodities. Financial Analyst Journal, 68(6):54–74

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