The headlines look familiar:
[Competition authority] chief calls for more competitive banking sector.
[Competition authority] says … petrol market “working well“.
But these are not claims made by Rod Sims or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. They are statements from the UK Office of Fair Trading.
What is interesting is the symmetry of issues between the UK, Australia, and other developed countries. Banking, petrol and supermarkets tend to ‘stick in the craw’ of public opinion. This creates political pressure for competition regulators to ‘do something’ about these areas. And the underlying concerns about lack of competition and pricing seem to be the same even though the structure of the sectors is vastly different between countries. Further, the sectors themselves are ‘different’. Consumers buy petrol and groceries regularly so it is understandable that price changes for these products register quickly for consumers. But banking prices are not ‘day to day’ concerns – at least from my perspective.
Banking involves our major creditor (if you have a mortgage) but the relationship to ‘housing’ doesn’t seem to explain the concern (we do not see ‘real estate agent reports’ very often).
So, is there a binding theme for these three sectors which explains why consumers (and politicians) focus on them so much and do not focus on other similar areas? I can’t think of one, so comments and suggestions very welcome.