Lorenzo Caliendo, Robert Feenstra, John Romalis, Alan Taylor, 26 April 2017

Tariff barriers today are small on average, suggesting only limited welfare gains from their removal. This column argues, however, that the current generation of standard trade models have missed an important source of gains from trade by neglecting the more complex case of a world with production linkages and multiple sectors. Under monopolistic competition, the effects of firm entry may be so powerful, that optimal tariffs are not positive but negative. Even the removal of small positive tariffs could thus produce significant welfare gains.

Ernesto Dal Bó, Frederico Finan, Olle Folke, Torsten Persson, Johanna Rickne, 26 April 2017

Ancient Athenians drew lots to determine who served in public office, but oligarchs at that time (and ever since) have argued that there is a trade-off between competence and fair representation. This column uses Swedish population data on cognitive and leadership ability to argue that democracy in Sweden has created government by competent people who are representative of all walks of life. Sweden’s inclusive meritocracy suggests that electoral democracy can help us avoid the tension between representation and competence.

Ken Mayhew, 25 April 2017

Higher education authorities are concerned about the implications of Brexit for the income and international standing of UK universities – the possible reduction in the numbers of EU students and staff and the loss of EU research funding. This column explores these threats and argues that there may be real cause for concern among lower ranking institutions faced by the perfect storm of Brexit, a general toughening of immigration rules, and greater competition promised in the UK government’s recent White Paper on higher education. 

Jorge Abad, Marco D'Errico, Neill Killeen, Vera Luz, Tuomas Peltonen, Richard Portes, Teresa Urbano, 25 April 2017

The Global Crisis highlighted how linkages between banks and shadow banking entities can lead to the amplification of shocks across borders and sectors, prompting policymakers to seek to improve the monitoring framework for assessing the interconnectedness of the shadow banking system. This column documents the cross-sector and cross-border exposures of EU banks to globally domiciled shadow banking entities. Among the findings are that 60% of these exposures are to shadow banking entities domiciled outside the EU and hence outside its supervisory powers,  and that approximately 65% of the exposures are to non-money market fund investment funds, finance companies, and securitisation entities. 

Hiroyasu Inoue, Yasuyuki Todo, 25 April 2017

Natural disasters have enormous economic consequences, with the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake providing a particularly stark recent example. This column uses supply chain data for more than one million Japanese firms to explore how negative shocks from natural disasters propagate through firm networks. Shocks are found to propagate very quickly, due in large part to certain ‘hub’ firms that have a high number of supply chain partners. Production substitution is the key to slowing the propagation.

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