Huge media covering for Google/Fitbit merger

The departmental working paper 'Data-driven mergers and personalization' by Associate Professor Zhijun Chen, Professor Chongwoo Choe, JiaJia Cong from Fudan University and Noriaki Matsushima from Osaka University, on the Google/Fitbit merger had a huge media impact earlier this spring and was cited widely.

The authors warned of the risk of Google misusing millions of people’s health data.

The paper was cited as the main theoretical evidence in the Amicus Brief submitted in September to the European Commission by a group of leading competition economists as an objection to the Google/Fitbit merger.

Chongwoo Choe and Zhijun Chen contributed to the brief which was published as a CEPR policy article, "Google/Fitbit will monetise health data and harm consumers".

Following the submission, the group of competition economists including the Monash academics launched a campaign in public media, including the Financial Times, to advocate our concerns on the merger. On October 15th, Zhijun Chen was invited by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to present the paper and discuss the policy implications of the merger. He also presented the paper in the department IO seminars on October 1, and then on the influential Digital Platform Online Seminars in Toulouse School of Economics on November 3. The presentation is available here.

Here are some examples of media coverage of the research.

Sascha Becker

Professor Sascha Becker’s research has been featured in two vox articles:

Ross Booth

Gennadi Kazakevitch

Gordon Leslie

  • Dr Gordon Leslie was interviewed by The Australian in “Power price falls a promising sign of reform success” printed on 20 October. He discussed the early retail electricity market responses to new price protection policies that came into effect on July 1 2019.

Vinod Mishra

Melbourne Trade workshop

The 4th Melbourne Trade Workshop was held virtually on two consecutive Fridays on Dec 4 (10am-1:15pm) and Dec 11 (11am-2:15pm) on the Gathertown platform.

The workshop was jointly organised by Monash Business School and the Trade and Development unit at The University of Melbourne. This year featured speakers were Senior Research Economist Doireann Fitzgerald (Minneapolis Fed) and Professor Marc Muendler (UCSD).

Monash organiser Senior Lecturer Laura Puzzello says: “We had between 16-20 participants per session, great speakers and curious participants. Talks provided insights on firms' expansion strategies, wage inequality in open economies and the role of globalisation in explaining the recent surge in deaths by fentanyl in the US, among others. We had fun, but all very much look forward to live interactions.”


On 9 October 2020 Professor Sascha Becker and Dr Weijia Li hosted AusClio by zoom, the 2020 Australasian Cliometric Workshop. It focused on the implications of religion, violence and political economy (death and taxes in short!).

Speakers included Senior Lecturer Laura Panza from the University of Melbourne, Professor Pauline Grosjean from UNSW, Mark Hup from UC Irvine, Assistant Professor Felipe Valencia Caicedo from The University of British Columbia, Dr Tim Kooijmans from RMIT and Senior Lecturer John Tang from the University of Melbourne. More information can be found here.

Sascha Becker also organised the #ASREC24 Conference, the world's first-ever nonstop 24-hour conference. It took place on 20 November and included 48 presentations of 30 minutes each.

PhD conference

We had over 160 registered participants, 30 presenters from 20 universities, and discussants from over 10 universities.

  • Many thanks to Professor Pushkar Maitra for taking the lead in organising the event and to the scientific committee for putting together a great agenda.
  • Leo Bao and Veasna Kheng were excellent HDR student presentations.
  • Professor Sascha Becker won a prize for best discussant.
  • From Economics, members of the scientific/organising committee were Associate Professor Zhijun Chen, Professor Ranjan Ray, Dr Solmaz Moslehi andProfessor Pushkar Maitra. From other groups, the members were Professor Gael Martin (EBS), Professor David Johnston (CHE), Senior Lecturer Li Ge (B&F), Professor Xueyan Zhao (EBS).
  • Graduate Student helpers: David Kreitmeir, Nicola Thomas, Van Tran, Abby Zhang, Jiacheng Wang
  • Discussants from the department: Associate professor Paul Raschky, Dr Weijia Li , Associate Professor Lionel Frost, Professor Sascha Becker , Senior Lecturer Chengsi Wang, Dr Gordon Leslie and Dr Solmaz Moslehi.
  • Helped out by serving as session chairs: Professor Nick Feltovich, Professor Russell Smyth, Associate Professor Zhijun Chen, Senior Lecturer Mita Bhattacharya, Associate Professor Choon Wang, Professor Phil Grossman.
  • Panel Discussion organised and moderated by Professor Ranjan Ray; Stephen King (who is adjunct with us) and Dean of the Business and Economics Faculty, Professor Simon Wilkie participated.

Thank you to everyone!

  • Senior Lecturer Chengsi Wang gave an online seminar at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology on 20 November and at Nanjing University on 25 November. He will also present at Hitotsubashi University on 8 December 2020.
  • Chengsi Wang is also co-organising the joint online seminar series on digital economy with Hong Kong Baptist University, Renmin University of China and National University of Taiwan. At a recent webinar hosted by Monash on 29 October, Professor Julian Wright from ANU presented the paper 'Data-Enabled Learning and Competitive Advantage.' The discussant was Zhijun Chen.
  • Professor Yves Zenou presented at the Cambridge INET Network Seminar Series on November 27, 2020.

    At the New Zealand Economics eSeminar Series on November 13, Yves Zenou presented the paper 'Mixing in early childhood'.
  • Dr Claudio Labanca has received a Monash ECR Small Grant, PI, 2020 (AUD 2200, with Michela Giorcelli)  and a UCLA Burkle Center Faculty Research Grant, PI, 2020 (USD 5,000, with Michela Giorcelli).
  • Associate Professor Zhijun Chen, Professor Chongwoo Choo and Senior Lecturer Chengsi Wang were awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant (DP210102015), for $266,000 for 2021-2023. Project No./title: DP210102015 - Big data: implications for competition, privacy and regulation.
  • In a recent paper called 'Geographic diversity in economic publishing' by Associate Professor Simon Angus, Associate Professor Kadir Atalay from University of Sydney, Associate Professor Jonathan Newton from Kyoto University and Senior Lecturer David Ubilava from University of Sydney, it is shown that Monash University has the highest concentration of editorial power in the 'rest of the world' meaning outside North America and Europe.

    The authors say: "The most powerful institution in the world outside of North America and Europe, Monash University, is only as powerful as the 32nd most powerful institution in North America, but would rank 8th if it were located in Europe."
  • On that note, we are happy to announce that Professor Sascha Becker has been appointed Associate Editor at the Journal of the European Association, from 1 Jan 2021.

    He was also elected to the Executive Board of the Asian & Australasian Society of Labour Economics.

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