Market studies have recently risen to prominence in Australia’s competition policy. Reviews of energy markets, financial services, insurance, agriculture, Murray Darling water markets, car retailing, and digital platforms have all been completed in the last half decade. Almost every major sector of the Australian economy has been examined.

Why has this happened? What is the role of market studies? Why are they needed when we have traditional enforcement and compliance tools?

This article seeks to answer these questions and makes the case that market studies are an important and complementary part of the toolkit for a competition enforcement agency. Market studies can enable a deeper and broader understanding of how markets are operating, and this can inform important further actions including legal action, regulatory reform, and competition and consumer advocacy.

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