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Do bugger off my lovely

Authorities are hamstrung by having to prove that mergers are harmful: a tricky business at the best of times. It is time to reverse the burden of proof so that instead it is the firms that must prove that the deal serves the public good.

Nobody knows. Sure, a few people have some convictions about stuff but no one actually knows. It’s also not possible to know – Hayek and all that.

Experience – the past couple of centuries of this markets and capitalism mixture – tells us that the best method we know of, the best method we’ve ever tried, is to allow people free rein with those convictions and ideas and see what turns up.

What you’re suggesting is that we all have to gain permission from the bureaucracy to do anything. Something that East German and all points poorer tells us doesn’t work.

So, my lovely, do bugger off would you? There’s a good little lawyer…….

Michelle Meagher is a competition lawyer and author of Competition is Killing Us: How Big Business is Harming Our Society and Planet – and What to do About it

19 thoughts on “Do bugger off my lovely”

  1. The opposite of competition is something we definitely wouldn’t want. In fact, we voted against the cartelism of the EU. Abolishing competition would set. the economy in concrete, and go against what seems a universal human trait, to enjoy unpredictability. Why else would sport exist?

    In M&A two out of three deals destroy value, but one out of three reaps great rewards. If it was obvious which was which it would already have been done. And the other two leave a space in the market for innovative competition.

    So yes, he’s talking through his hat. Especially as he no doubt wants to milk the firms for more tax.

  2. Agree Michelle is not going to save us with her particular draughtsman’s quill. I do think the regs about porting over your services would help competition. Should you be able to say to fb. all that stuff i’ve loaded up to you, i want to move it to FizzTome?

  3. If they get away with it, and the precedent is set, ANY private transaction can require government approval, based on ANY criteria the government sets. Not just ‘public good.’ But then ‘public good’ can be defined any way government wants.

    Experience tells us government will take any power they get and abuse it to no end.

  4. Mergers are to serve the shareholder good, not the public good – whatever that is anyway.

    If mergers create economies of scale and lower prices, that serves the interests of consumers. If they restrict choice, raise prices, they open up opportunity for competition but only if the merging enterprise is not receiving the assistance of the State and competition is not State restricted to ‘save jobs’ for example.

  5. “Mergers are to serve the shareholder good”- notionally. Rather unfortunate that they tend to destroy shareholder value.

  6. Has Michelle Meagher convincingly proved that her continued use of atmospheric oxygen is not harmful?
    Until she does, the usage must not be allowed to proceed! 🙂
    Burden of proof indeed.

  7. Gamecock- yes, it’s like a crim lawyer saying authorities hamstrung by the burden of proof. yeah, and on balance who thinks that’s the better way round?

  8. Michelle Meager cannot win her cases under the existing rules so she want the rules changed so that it would be almost impossible to lose them.
    Is she incompetent, lazy, greedy or all three?

  9. @ HB
    i have now got a “where do you bugger off to my lovely?” earworm.

    Thanks, now I have it too HB. Mr Sarstedt had slipped my mind…

  10. Demands a presumption of guilt. Oi! Ms Meagher! Yer’a badun. Into nick with you. Proof? Yerwot? I *think* you’re a crim, therefore you *are* a crim. Stop complaining, *YOU* insisted on it.

  11. The ‘free unless the state curtails’ is becoming ‘only allowed to do what the state permits’ as the state becomes a parasite.

    We are getting this as an attitude from our regulator more and more. They assume we are breaking the rules. They ask us to prove we comply, make up requirements, which are not in legislation or even their published guidance, and then complain that we don’t meet their made up requirements on a topic.

    I wouldn’t mind but being told something stupidly incorrect about compliance with a made up rule by someone with little real business or risk management experience is rather irritating after a while. And I say that as a former regulator.

  12. And what else did he write?
    He (or his estate!) is still living on the residuals.
    On that basis: it’s one of the best songs ever.
    But on musical terms, I agree with you.

    Cue best Ena Sharples shriek: “That one? Alone in her bed? Ha Ha Ha, never happens”

  13. Tim the Coder

    Sarstedt wrote another, similarly irritating, ditty called Frozen Orange Juice.

    As for Ena Sharples, you are giving your age away with that one.

  14. Dear Mr Worstall

    “Michelle Meagher is a competition lawyer and author of Competition Government is Killing Us: How Big Business Government is Harming Our Society and Planet – and What to do About it”

    Fixed that for her. Now all she has to do is re-write the book.


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