Martin Watzinger, Thomas Fackler, Markus Nagler, Monika Schnitzer, 19 February 2017

There is growing concern that dominant companies use patents strategically to keep competitors from entering their market. This column uses the landmark 1956 Consent Decree against Bell Labs to explore whether antitrust enforcement is an effective remedy to the problem. Results show that patents can indeed be used as an entry barrier for start-up firms, and that the compulsory licensing of patents can foster market entry and innovation. However, compulsory licensing is found to be ineffective in markets where dominant firms have other means of market foreclosure.

Charles Wyplosz, 17 February 2017

The IMF has just released its self-evaluation of its Greek lending, in which it admits to many mistakes. This column and argues that the report misses one important error – reliance on the Debt Sustainability Analysis – but notes that the IMF’s candour should be a model for the other participants in the lending, namely, the European Commission and the ECB.

Yasuyuki Todo, 16 February 2017

From the US withdrawal from the TPP to the Brexit negotiations, the tide of trade policy is turning towards protectionism. This column outlines how this could create a vicious cycle of lower productivity and closed economies, and what Japan, as the world’s third largest economy, can do to prevent it. A combination of trade and investment liberalisation and inclusive policies will enable all citizens to enjoy the fruits of growth under globalisation.

Tessa Bold, Tobias Broer, 16 February 2017

The substantial literature examining risk-sharing practices in rural villages in developing countries has typically taken the social institutions in these communities as given. Using data from India, this column challenges this assumption by showing how the costs and benefits of risk-sharing arrangements can shape these social institutions. The results suggest that the size and nature of these risk-sharing groups may evolve over time as their environment changes. Public policy to reduce consumption fluctuations can be counterproductive in the standard model because of a strong crowding-out effect.

Raymond Owens, Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, Pierre-Daniel Sarte, 15 February 2017

The decline of manufacturing employment in industrialised countries has hit some cities hard. This column looks at perhaps the best-known case – Detroit – where residents have deserted the neighbourhoods closest to the central business district in favour of the suburbs, despite the longer commute. Redeveloping these areas requires coordination between multiple developers, residents, and the city governments that facilitate permits and public services. The authors propose the introduction of ‘development guarantees’ to ease the coordination problems.

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