Research impact: Perth petrol prices help inform President Biden

Australian research on retail petrol prices in Perth – which breaks new ground on the origins of “silent” collusion – has been cited in the 2023 Economic Report of the President presented to the US Congress in March.

The US Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) prepares the annual report. It provides an overview of the state of the US economy, including data about economic growth, inflation, and employment.

Professor David Byrne, Professor of Economics at the University of Melbourne, and Professor Nick De Roos, Professor of Economics at the University of Liverpool, were cited for their research “Learning to Coordinate: A Study in Retail Gasoline”, published in the American Economic Review in 2019.

In their study, the researchers looked at petrol prices in Perth across 15 years and documented how stations gradually coordinated profit-enhancing pricing strategies over time.

“The research is important in showing how companies can figure out how to coordinate in setting higher prices and earning large profits without talking to each other. When we published it in 2019, we hoped it would inform policymakers on regulating mergers and detecting anti-competitive pricing in industries,” said Professor Byrne.

“We are delighted that the research has been used to inform future directions for antitrust policy in the United States at a time when the cost-of-living pressures are high and goods and services, including petrol, are becoming less affordable,” he said.

The Economic Report of the President provides insights into the economic priorities of the current US government and is a vital source of information for policymakers, economists and analysts. It was presented to US Congress by Professor Cecilia Rouse, Chair of the CEA.

See the full 2023 Economic Report of the President.