Competition and Monopoly: Index

Highly Concentrated (February 1981)
The Stock and Station Agent Industry (November 1995, but originally written in 1986)
The Public Interest in Competition Policy (October 1989)
Risking Dialogue: Electricity Outages Show How Consumers Are Powerless (August 1998)
Electric Rhetoric: Sneering Instead of Thinking (July 1999)
The Air New Zealand-QANTAS Merger: An Application in the Public Interest? (December 2002 )
Waccy Economics: Are there clear rules governing government investment? (September 2003)
Footnote for Listener 13 March 1999

It was Watties

Twenty-five years ago a colleague, Tony Rayner (now, alas, dead), received a letter from a large New Zealand corporation complaining that he had described them as a “monopoly” in a first year economics lecture. We were not concerned by the reporting – lectures are public events, although students must distinguish between the presentation of an argument and the presenter’s views. We were aghast because surely Watties was a monopolist.

About the same time, Watties took on a young accountant, David Irving, who eventually rose to chief executive, retired, and has just written (with Kerr Inkson) a book about his time with the firm. The book, It Must Be Watties, reports Irving’s view that the company was indeed a national monopoly then. It goes on to describes the travails that the firm went through, as the economy opened up and firms became subject to the pressures of competition, here and in its new export markets. Eventually, intensely nationalist Watties was taken over by the giant transnational Heinz, which previously had been its main competitor. For those interested in the impact of market liberalisation, this business history is a must-read.