Friday, May 15, 2009

Intel vs. EU

In addition to Intel executives, some outsiders are crying foul over the EU's fine for Intel's anti-competitive practices (link). Peter Gumbel in Forbes believes that the EU picks on American firms for alleged anti-competitive practices because many European firms with monopolistic tendencies are owned by various EU member states so the EU is politically unable to go after them. Others, such this unsigned EE times editorial, see the Intel ruling as just another confirmation of Intel's anti-competitive after similar rulings against Intel in recent years in Korea and Japan (link). Looking at the ten biggest antitrust fines imposed on companies by the European Commission, four of the companies are in fact American. This could be construed as evidence of an anti-American bent to the EU's regulations, but three of the four fines were imposed on the recalcitrant Microsoft, which kept dragging its feet to comply with the initial European Commission ruling. Moreover, five of the other ten largest fines have gone against firms from EU member states with all five hailing from the three of the four largest EU economies, France, Germany and the UK (the eighth largest fine went against a South African firm). Given what we know about Wintel's market power, it looks like the EU's moves against Intel were probably as well justified as the EU's moves against market-bending Microsoft were.

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