Competition Law, Big Tech and Financialisation: The Dark Side of the Moon

By Ioannis Lianos (University College London) & Andrew McLean (UCL Faculty of Laws)

In this chapter, we explore a missing dimension of the discussion surrounding competition law and the digital economy: financialisation and its impact on competitive strategies and the broader social implications of Big Tech’s economic power. Specifically, we offer three contributions. First, we argue that financialisation has played a prominent, although overlooked, role in the development and dominance of the major digital platforms. Second, considering the social dimension of financialisation and the heavily skewed distribution of stock ownership in society, we suggest that the distributional implications of Big Tech’s power and of competition law enforcement need to be assessed more systematically. Relatedly, we propose that the tool of agent-based modelling may
contribute to this analysis and help us move beyond the traditional focus of competition law enforcement on consumer welfare. Third, we offer an empirical examination of Big Tech’s corporate governance regimes, interrogating the conglomerate analogy frequently invoked in the digital economy and examining how the principle of shareholder value maximisation may influence the economic model followed by the Big Tech platforms.

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