Beware of Trolls

Last week I was attending the MaCCI Annual Conference at our institute. There were a lot of bright ideas and interesting presentations. One of my personal highlights was Jay Pil Choi from Michigan presenting a model of patent trolls. There is no paper available yet but I found some slides online.* Patent_troll

Patent trolls are companies which acquire patents and which have the business model to sue other firms for patent infringement in order to make a profit on royalties or settlement payments. Continue reading Beware of Trolls

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The Prize for New Antibiotics

I wrote about antibiotics before. So far, this was a success story. Since the 1940s, the price for antibiotic drugs fell extremely, transforming a once unaffordable drug into an “everyday product”. Unfortunately, however, there is more and more evidence that we might fall behind in the evolutionary battle against drug-resistant bacteria. Recently, I read an article in the NYT on the topic. The problem is essentially that developing new antibiotic drugs is not profitable anymore. Continue reading The Prize for New Antibiotics

Why is Apple sitting on a pile of cash?

Recently I stumbled over this picture on the internet. I have not checked the numbers, but everybody knows that Apple is sitting on a huge pile of cash (the same goes for Microsoft, by the way). Of course, this number makes a good conspiracy theory about what might really be going on in Cupertino. Is Apple the last fire-drake of California jealously hoarding a pile of gold in his lair? I would like to object. There are actually good economic reasons for Apple to have large cash holdings. Continue reading Why is Apple sitting on a pile of cash?

How to get knowledge out of the ivory tower?

Technology transfer is a big topic for scholars and policy makers.We would like to know how we can harvest the knowledge and ideas that are produced at universities and research institutes and to make them available to society. The invention of new technologies is only a first step. They need to be commercialized as innovative products and services to further foster a society’s wealth. Especially Europe could do better here. Continue reading How to get knowledge out of the ivory tower?

Economic History: Antibiotics

Some time ago I wrote about a paper of mine (Hünermund et al., 2015) in which my coauthors and me develop a model to explain the occurrence of industry shakeouts. Shakeouts are a phenomenon which we encounter frequently in new industries. At one point in time, a large number of relatively small firms, previously operating in a market, becomes unsustainable. Within a short period of time a lot of firms exit and, eventually, the industry becomes dominated by a few large players. Our model explains this frequently observed pattern by technological factors that change over the lifespan of an industry. Cost advantages — because of more efficient production technologies — allow a few firm to take over and squeeze all others out of the market. Continue reading Economic History: Antibiotics

Welcome to the Eurozone, Lithuania!

With the beginning of 2015 Lithuania, as the last of the three Baltic states, will adopt the euro. A first attempt to join the single currency in 2007 failed because the inflation rate was above Maastricht requirements. Seven years later, Lithuania is considered to be ready to be a part of the eurozone. But what are the prospects of the small country of only 3 million inhabitants in a currency area which, according to theory, is far from being optimal? Continue reading Welcome to the Eurozone, Lithuania!