February 2008

Baldwin, 29 February 2008, 54090 reads

Trade liberalisation is proceeding everywhere but at the WTO: while nations drag their feet in Geneva, they sign bilateral trade agreements by the dozen. Finishing the ongoing WTO talks is important, but regionalism is the new reality. To maintain its relevance, the WTO must adapt, as regionalism is here to stay.

Ciccone, 28 February 2008, 16756 reads

According to theory, demands for democratic change are more likely to be realised during economic downturns, which lower the cost of overthrowing autocrats. This column presents empirical evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa suggesting that recessions may indeed open a window of opportunity for democratisation.

Seldeslachts, Clougherty, Barros, 27 February 2008, 15303 reads

Competition authorities know that their decisions in merger cases may deter future mergers, but there’s little evidence quantifying such deterrence. This column reports on recent research that examines the deterrence effects of merger policy and finds that competition authorities’ increasing reliance on remedying mergers rather than prohibiting them is potentially weakening deterrence.

Buiter, Sibert, 26 February 2008, 71242 reads

Barack Obama, the likely Democratic presidential candidate, has proposed tax breaks for US corporations that invest at home rather than abroad. This column argues that his proposal is protectionist, reactionary, and economically unsound.

Widgrén, 25 February 2008, 17379 reads

The Fed’s policy changes seem nimble compared to the ECB’s. Here one of Europe’s leading analysts of voting mechanisms argues that the ECB’s institutional design accounts for the difference. Forthcoming ECB reforms are unlikely to alleviate the problem.

Philippon, Véron, 22 February 2008, 13415 reads

The corporate giants of Europe are aging elders. This column suggests financial reforms to encourage the growth of emerging enterprises.

Wolf, 21 February 2008, 17764 reads

Europe suffered the collapse of a currency system when countries abandoned the gold-exchange standard in the 1930s. What lessons does that break-up offer for the euro today?

Saffer, Lamiraud, 20 February 2008, 22347 reads

People have fewer friends and visit them less often than in the past. A popular explanation suggests that we’re working longer and have less time for friends, but recent research finds little tradeoff between working hours and social hours. The relevant tradeoffs, this column suggests, are between types of social interaction.

Gorodnichenko, Martinez-Vazquez, Sabirianova Peter, 19 February 2008, 81388 reads

Russia’s economic and fiscal successes since adopting a flat tax in 2001 have bred enthusiasm for tax reform amongst casual observers. This column summarises research investigating the flat tax’s effects and suggests that many of the gains came from reduced tax evasion in Russia.

Galor, Mountford, 18 February 2008, 62174 reads

The last 200 years saw a ‘Great Divergence’ in per capita income, as some countries industrialised while others remained less developed. This column attributes the divergence to international trade. Comparative advantage encouraged industrialising economies to invest in human capital, while non-industrial economies experienced population growth.

Pojarliev, Levich, 16 February 2008, 23182 reads

Professional currency trading managers earn large fees. This column summarises research evaluating their performance and identifies a select group of traders whose achievements may warrant their wages.

Alesina, Ichino, Karabarbounis, 15 February 2008, 46366 reads

A proposal to tax women less than men is garnering popular and political attention – recently having been proposed by the Spanish opposition party in its campaign platform. In this column, the three economists advancing the policy answer the critics.

Hatton, 14 February 2008, 39288 reads

Europe is moving towards immigration policies that favour the acceptance of highly skilled applicants. This column summarises research showing that such policies may have some effect but cautions that there are limits to the power of selectivity.

Heckman, LaFontaine, 13 February 2008, 293894 reads

Official statistics for US high school graduation rates mask a growing educational divide. This column presents research showing that a record number of Americans are going to university – while an increasing number are dropping out of high school. This poses major social challenges for the United States.

Baldwin, 12 February 2008, 32453 reads

Raising incomes of the world’s poorest is about more than raising living standards. Poverty kills. This column discusses recent research illustrating the links between extreme poverty and early death.

Gersbach, 11 February 2008, 30743 reads

Tackling climate change is difficult because it requires international cooperation to address global externalities. This column proposes a global refunding system, which would provide incentives for emissions reductions while allowing member countries to choose their carbon tax rates.

Corsetti, 11 February 2008, 16989 reads

Fiscal policy may be particularly potent at the moment: the recent tightening of credit constraints could make spending more sensitive to current income and thus taxes and subsidies. This column affirms such reasoning but cautions that fiscal measures must be deployed wisely.

Saint-Paul, 09 February 2008, 46242 reads

The conservative Spanish Partido Popular has proposed gender-based taxation in line with recent research and several Vox columns by Alberto Alesina and Andrea Ichino. Here one of Europe’s most eminent labour economists makes the counter argument.

Vandenbussche, Zanardi, 08 February 2008, 38382 reads

Political divisions among EU member states seem to have derailed the reform process envisaged by Mr Mandelson, the EU Trade Commissioner, for the most important of the EU’s trade defence instruments – antidumping. Here is a discussion of antidumping and what a minimal proposal for reforms should include.

Geraats, Giavazzi, Wyplosz, 07 February 2008, 37503 reads

Central Banking works by guiding the expectations of savers, investors, consumers and markets – not an easy job. This column, based on the latest report in CEPR’s series ‘Monitoring the European Central Bank’, argues that the job would be easier if the ECB published its anticipated interest rate path and voting records.

Kenen, Meade, 07 February 2008, 15872 reads

Many regions are discussing possible monetary unions; a new book argues that they are not in the position to replicate the European experience.

Rose, 06 February 2008, 22928 reads

Since World War II, economies have exited currency unions at an average rate of one per year. Yet the evidence confounds established theory: economists are unable to predict which economies are likely to leave currency unions.

Clark, Diener, Georgellis, Lucas, 05 February 2008, 47300 reads

Does time heal all wounds? Here is new evidence on how major events – good and bad – impact people’s long-run life satisfaction.

Dell'Ariccia, Laeven, Igan, 04 February 2008, 34162 reads

Recent US mortgage market troubles unsteadied the global economy. This column summarises research analysing millions of loan applications to investigate the roots of the crisis. A credit boom may be to blame.

Saint-Paul, 01 February 2008, 14940 reads

France has agreed a raft of labour market reforms. Here one of France’s most market-oriented labour economists evaluates the likely impact, concluding that it’s an improvement, but heightens incentives to become unemployed.

Events