Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, Markus K Brunnermeier, Henrik Enderlein, Emmanuel Farhi, Marcel Fratzscher, Clemens Fuest, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, Philippe Martin, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Hélène Rey, Isabel Schnabel, Nicolas Véron, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, Jeromin Zettelmeyer, 17 January 2018

The euro area continues to suffer from critical weaknesses that are the result of a poorly designed fiscal and financial architecture, but its members are divided on how to address the problems. This column proposes six reforms which, if delivered as a package, would improve the euro area’s financial stability, political cohesion, and potential for delivering prosperity to its citizens, all while addressing the priorities and concerns of participating countries.

Claudia Biancotti, Riccardo Cristadoro, 17 January 2018

Cyber attacks are becoming more frequent and increasingly costly. This column discusses some of the challenges involved in measuring the economic damage caused by these attacks, including a lack of agreement on how to assess damage, an asymmetrical distribution where a few large-scale incidents account for most costs, and externality effects. A measurement framework, estimation strategy, and reliable data will all be needed for successful policy evaluation.

Edward Glaeser, Hyunjin Kim, Michael Luca, 17 January 2018

Economic and policy research can often suffer from a scarcity of up-to-date data sources. This column explores the potential for digital data to supplement official government statistics by providing more up-to-date snapshots of the economy. A comparison of data from Yelp with US County Business Patterns data reveals that the Yelp data provide a good indication of underlying economic trends. But although digital data from online platforms offer faster and geographically detailed images of the economy, they should be seen as a complement rather than a substitute for official government statistics.

Francesca Borgonovi, Collin Hitt, Jeffrey A. Livingston, Sally Sadoff, Gema Zamarro, 16 January 2018

The Programme for International Student Assessment is a global standardised test of students’ mathematics, reading, and science skills. This column describes how the results of various studies using different approaches all find evidence that many students who take the PISA do not try as hard as they can, and that the level of effort varies widely across countries. The findings illustrate that a combination of ability and motivation may be more important than ability alone.

Rafael Di Tella, Lucía Freira, Ramiro Gálvez, Ernesto Schargrodsky, Diego Shalom, Mariano Sigman, 16 January 2018

Governments in Latin America seemingly go unpunished at election times for high crime rates. This column examines whether the region’s high tolerance for crime is the result of ‘desensitisation’, with people reacting less to crime the more they are exposed to it. It finds that victims of crime become desensitised compared with non-victims, helping to explain tolerance to crime and a weak relationship between crime and happiness in high-crime areas.

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