Author(s): Giovanni Immordino, Michele Polo
In this paper we review some recent work on public intervention in economic environments where fifirms undertake investments in research or in physical assets, and then choose appropriate business practices to extract profits from the outcomes of the investment process. Public policies may take different forms: the release of an authorization; the setting of fines and damages for liability; or the choice of legal standards in antitrust law enforcement. The business practices are privately profitable but may be welfare enhancing or socially harmful. When expectations are optimistic, public policies face a trade-off between ex-ante effects on investment, that suggest hands off, and ex-post control of practices when harmful, that requires intervention. Our general result suggests that public policies should be softer when innovation is an important source of welfare improvements.
Keywords: Regulation, Antitrust, Legal Standards
JEL codes: D73, K21, K42, L51