October 2010

D'Amuri, Peri, 31 October 2010, 36652 reads

Several studies find that immigrants do not harm the wages and job prospects of native workers. This column seeks to explain these somewhat counterintuitive findings by emphasizing the scope for complementarities between foreign-born and native workers. Examining 14 European countries from 1996 to 2007, it finds that immigrants often supply manual skills, leaving native workers to take up jobs that require more complex skills – even boosting demand for them. Immigrants replace “tasks”, not workers.

De Martino, Libertucci, Marangoni, Quagliariello, 30 October 2010, 16432 reads

Contingent capital requirements may reduce the problems of low-quality bank capital and excessively leveraged institutions, but they also risk being too complex. This column aims to strike an appropriate balance by presenting a proposal based on both macroeconomic and bank-level triggers for debt-to-equity conversion. It assesses how such a rule would have performed in identifying stressed banks in recent years.

Engelhardt, Freytag, Maurer, 29 October 2010, 39404 reads

Governments are increasingly interested in promoting open source software. Yet policymakers have seldom laid out any clear theoretical or empirical justification for these policies. This column explores recent studies suggesting that open source and proprietary software strengthen each other and should co-exist – too much open source could actually be a bad thing.

Bhidé, 29 October 2010, 13976 reads

Amar Bhidé of Tufts University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his new book, ‘A Call for Judgement: Sensible Finance for a Dynamic Economy’, which explains how bad academic theories and mis-regulation have caused a dangerous divergence between the financial sector and the real economy. He calls for a return to case-by-case judgment in financial transactions, with deposit-taking institutions limited to basic lending. The interview was recorded in London in October 2010. [Also read the transcript]

Ghani, 28 October 2010, 30197 reads

South Asia’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the world, yet it is also home to the largest concentration of people living in debilitating poverty. How do the two co-exist? This column says that South Asia’s division into leading and lagging regions means that stupendous growth hides deep pockets of poverty.

Viceira, Campbell, Sunderam, 27 October 2010, 24980 reads

The historically low yields on Treasury bonds are the hallmark of a bubble, according to some commentators. This column analyses the relationship between bond yields, the stock market, and inflation over the past 50 years. It finds that the riskiness of nominal bonds changes over time and that investors and policymakers can use the changing stock-bond correlation as a real-time measure of inflation expectations.

Véron, 26 October 2010, 9752 reads

For whom is the financial crisis over? This column argues that the US response has been far more effective at reassuring investors than that in Europe. It says that stress tests have failed to trigger the needed recapitalisation and restructuring of Europe’s troubled banks. Europe’s leaders, it argues, must tackle these problems head-on.

Buti, Larch, 25 October 2010, 13523 reads

The European Commission’s proposals for stronger economic governance have been criticised in several columns on this site. Here, the European Commission’s economic team respond to the critics.

Lychagin, Van Reenen, Slade, Pinkse, 25 October 2010, 20449 reads

Why do local policymakers fight so hard to attract research and development labs to their area? This column provides a possible explanation. Using patent data, it finds a strong link between R&D and growth caused by knowledge spillovers between firms.

Mold, 24 October 2010, 48505 reads

Developing countries have enjoyed strong economic performance over the past decade – often growing twice as fast as OECD economies. This column asks whether developing countries will continue to outpace rich countries over the coming two decades. Updating Angus Maddison’s famous projections, it forecasts a world starkly different from today’s. The worlds’ poor countries will account for nearly 70% of global GDP in 2030.

Hall, Helmers, 24 October 2010, 15914 reads

Technology is often hailed as one of the best tools to ease the challenge of coordinating a global climate policy. This column examines existing evidence on the role of intellectual property rights in the development and transfer of green technologies, calling for much more research in this area.

Auerbach, Obstfeld, 23 October 2010, 31893 reads

As the debate over China’s exchange-rate policy and the US response intensifies, this column argues that a large Chinese revaluation – whether forced of voluntary – will not be a free lunch for the US. Drawing on a theoretical cost-benefit analysis, it suggests that if the US wants to create jobs at the lowest costs, it should first consider further fiscal expansion.

Aizenman, Lee, Sushko, 22 October 2010, 16137 reads

Exchange-rate policy is emerging as one of the most controversial issues from the global crisis. This column looks at how emerging markets have responded to exchange-rate pressures over the last decade. Among its findings is that emerging markets’ hoarding of international reserves is far better explained by financial factors than by trade concerns, both before and during the crisis.

Acharya, 22 October 2010, 11885 reads

Viral Acharya talks to Viv Davies about a new book, 'Regulating Wall Street'. He discusses the success and failings of the Dodd-Frank Act and its implications for the US financial system. He outlines the crucial role of derivatives, the new council of systemic risk, SIFIs and the different approaches to resolution in the US and Europe. Acharya compares the Basel III proposals with the US reforms and suggests what should be priorities for discussion at the upcoming G20 summit. The interview was recorded in London on 13 October 2010. [Also read the transcript]

Cotton, McIntyre, Price, 21 October 2010, 19094 reads

Around the world, the pay and achievement gap between men and women remains significant, as shown by last week’s Global Gender Gap Report. This column explores whether this gap can be explained by attitudes towards competition. Using experimental evidence from math quiz competitions in primary schools, it finds that while males respond better to competition initially, this advantage is short-lived, as females are just as responsive over time.

Huang, 20 October 2010, 15463 reads

On 19 October, the Chinese central bank announced a series of rate hikes. This column argues that the moves were aimed at combating domestic inflation and addressing the risks of an asset bubble.

Huang, 19 October 2010, 30349 reads

The ongoing global imbalances has strengthened calls for the US to declare trade war with China. This column argues that the US did not emerge victorious from the last currency war with Japan, and against China the chances are even slimmer. Instead the upcoming G20 meeting should focus on a broad range of structural adjustments from both sides.

Caballero, 19 October 2010, 17690 reads

Emerging markets with large trade surpluses are reluctant to heed calls for them to help with global aggregate-demand rebalancing by appreciating their currencies. They fear harm to their export-led development and sudden reversals of capital inflows in the future. Here one of the world’s most innovative macroeconomists suggests a way to square the circle: A dual exchange-rate system that would shield their exporters while fostering imports.

Schoenmaker, 18 October 2010, 17045 reads

The financial crisis has shown that countries put national interests first. On the banking side, the handling of Fortis, Lehman and the Icelandic banks are clear examples of coordination failure. On the sovereign side, the Greek saga illustrates the damage of ad hoc attempts to coordinate. This column explores how burden sharing can be made to work in practice.

Lederman, Xu, 17 October 2010, 18034 reads

Foreign direct investment has been an important component in development success stories around the world. This column explores why southern African countries have not been part of this story. Using newly available data it finds that FDI can help development and provide positive spillovers to the local economy. But Africa must have strong fundamentals to attract investment – in particular, greater openness to trade.

Karabarbounis, 16 October 2010, 23635 reads

Why do Europe and the US, both affluent regions, differ so much in the size of their welfare state? To answer this question, this column examines OECD countries between 1975 and 2001, finding that countries with wealthier rich- and middle-classes are associated with a smaller welfare state while those with a richer poor class are associated with a larger one – supporting the “one dollar, one vote” explanation.

Mišković, Auer, Wildhagen, 15 October 2010, 22653 reads

Whether you are in academia, government, or private business, the hiring of PhD economists is very different from standard recruiting. This column documents the peculiarities of the job market for junior economists and describes how the job market boards of walras.org and VoxEU.org can be used to disseminate information about job openings and receive online applications.

Petrongolo, 15 October 2010, 23768 reads

The 2010 Nobel Prize in Economics has been awarded to Peter Diamond, Dale Mortensen, and Christopher Pissarides "for their analysis of markets with search frictions". This column explains how their research relates to fundamental economic issues that are both at the core of the wellbeing of society at large and now near the top of many policymakers’ agendas.

Rasul, 15 October 2010, 13730 reads

Imran Rasul of University College London talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his research with Jerome Adda and Brendon McConnell on the effects of a localized policing experiment that decriminalized cannabis possession in the London borough of Lambeth between 2001 and 2002. The interview was recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Glasgow in August 2010.

Buti, Larch, 14 October 2010, 14870 reads

The European Commission’s proposals for stronger economic governance in the EU have aroused both broad approval and outright condemnation. In this column, the European Commission’s Director-General for Economic and Financial Affairs outlines why he and colleagues are confident that the proposals will work.

Ravallion, 14 October 2010, 18727 reads

Policymakers and commentators are constantly looking for new ways to measure development. This column warns against embracing new composite indices with little guidance from economic or other theories. It provides a critical overview of the strengths and weaknesses of using such “mashup” indices of development.

Giavazzi, Spaventa, 14 October 2010, 17942 reads

The European Commission now recognises that fiscal discipline alone is not enough to ensure the stability of the euro. Yet this column argues that the new proposals to combat the Eurozone’s fragility are an empty and useless exercise – Europe’s policymakers should instead be worried about unchecked credit expansion.

Perotti, 13 October 2010, 12899 reads

How did the bank-funding system get so fragile to mletdown and lead to the worst crisis since WWII? In a new CEPR Policy Insight, Enrico Perotti argues that an important part of the answer lies in the bankruptcy privileges granted in 2005 to overnight secured credit and derivatives by the US authorities. These privileges made such lending safe for the lenders and thus cheap for the borrowers. The result was fantastic growth in this market to the detriment of stability.

Beck, Lin, Ma, 13 October 2010, 15337 reads

Can financial sector reform help bring informal firms into the formal sector? This column examines over 22,000 firms from 43 countries. Firms in countries with a credit registry are 20% less likely to evade taxes, and the tax evasion ratio in such countries is 11% lower.

Hufbauer, Suominen, 13 October 2010, 12529 reads

The global crisis has rocked people’s faith in globalisation. This column introduces a new book arguing that, despite taking a step back, globalisation is one of the most travelled routes the world has known for spreading growth and prosperity. It provides policy recommendations for renovating that road dealing with the WTO, social security, global imbalances, and foreign direct investment.

Editors, 12 October 2010, 17163 reads

The saga of Greece’s public finances continues, and it is not the only country whose fiscal sustainability is in doubt. This column introduces a new Policy Insight by Willem Buiter and Ebrahim Rahbari that analyses the sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone and the response of the national authorities, EU institutions, and IMF.

Arnold, Javorcik, Lipscomb, Mattoo, 12 October 2010, 26793 reads

Conventional explanations for the post-1991 growth of India’s manufacturing sector focus on trade liberalisation and industrial de-licensing. This column examines 4,000 Indian firms from 1993 to 2005 and argues that a key factor for the success of Indian manufacturing may lie outside of manufacturing – in the services sector.

Blanchard, 12 October 2010, 17223 reads

A “strong, balanced, and sustained world recovery” as demanded by the G20 is a daunting challenge for policymakers. This column argues that two rebalancing acts are required: internal rebalancing – replacing government spending with private-sector demand, and external rebalancing – addressing the global imbalances between exporting and importing countries. These two rebalancing acts, it adds, are taking too long.

Weel, van der Horst, Gelauff, 11 October 2010, 20256 reads

How will we earn our money in 2040? This column develops four scenarios for how the Dutch economy may evolve. It argues that the future depends on the development of technology – the fundamental driver of future economic development. Many of the lessons and analysis apply equally to the rest of Europe.

Prasad, Gerecke, 10 October 2010, 21790 reads

Financial crises, such as that of 2008-2009, cause GDP to decline, trade to shrink, unemployment to rise, and social problems to increase. What is the link between financial crises and social security spending? This column examines the trends in social security spending in the aftermath of a financial crisis, advising that now is the time for developing countries to expand their social spending.

Roland, 09 October 2010, 14387 reads

How should China respond to the threat of tariffs from the US? This column provides a solution that could result in the desired appreciation of the renminbi and at the same time allow China to take the lead on climate change.

Gill, 09 October 2010, 39461 reads

Economic development is not evenly spread, and in some places it is still yet to arrive. This column looks at suggestions from the World Bank’s World Development Report to combat this inequality. It argues that economic growth will be unbalanced, and to try to spread it out – too much, too far, or too soon – is to discourage it. Instead, policymakers should focus on economic integration.

Herbst, Tekin, 09 October 2010, 17653 reads

Do subsidies for childcare succeed in getting parents to work and improving the wellbeing of the children? This column presents evidence from the US suggesting that childcare subsidies have an unintended consequence. In the short run, children from low-income families are worse off as their parents go off to work and they receive low-quality childcare.

Gros, 08 October 2010, 29260 reads

With the US threatening to label China a “currency manipulator”, this column presents a plan to address global imbalances without risking a trade war. It proposes a “reciprocity” requirement – if the US can’t buy Chinese government bonds, then China can’t buy US bonds either.

Li, Whalley, Chen, 08 October 2010, 17942 reads

As the debate over global imbalances develops, this column asks whether the discussion is based on faulty data. Using data from the US, Japan, Germany, and the Czech Republic, it argues that not taking due account of foreign affiliate sales leads to a warped view of trade in goods and services.

Daude, Melguizo, Neut, 08 October 2010, 22989 reads

How well prepared were Latin American countries for the global crisis? This column uses two decades of data from the region to argue that, just as inflation-targeting rules institutionalised robust monetary policy and helped to curb rises in the price level, countercyclical fiscal policy must be institutionalised to be effective and sustainable. Chile, it says, is leading the way.

Uhlig, 08 October 2010, 8427 reads

CEPR’s Euro Area Business Cycle Dating Committee has announced that the recession that began in the first quarter of 2008 came to an end in the second quarter of 2009. Harald Uhlig of the University of Chicago, who chairs the committee, talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about how this recession compares with previous recessions and with the US recession, and about the components of GDP that are driving recovery. The interview was recorded in a telephone press conference on 4 October 2010.

Manasse, 07 October 2010, 17594 reads

The European Commission has recently reviewed the Stability and Growth Pact. This column argues that, while such reform is urgently needed, the Commission’s proposals, with the exception of those concerning budgetary institutions, are naive and risk being counterproductive.

Monnin, Jokipii, 07 October 2010, 22810 reads

Does banking sector instability damage the real economy? Or the other way round? This column presents data from 18 OECD countries between 1980 and 2008. It finds that banking sector stability appears to be an important driver of GDP growth in subsequent quarters. It argues that monetary policy should therefore pay more attention to banking sector soundness.

Gerlach, Tillmann, 07 October 2010, 14528 reads

Following the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, many of the region’s countries adopted inflation targeting. This column compares the persistence of inflation between those with inflation targeting and those without, finding that inflation persistence falls in the former. Nevertheless, the behaviour of inflation still varies across inflation-targeting economies.

Beck, Brown, 06 October 2010, 15525 reads

Access to financial services is viewed as a key determinant of economic wellbeing, especially for households in low-income countries. This column examines how the banking structure affects access to finance in 29 transition countries. It finds that changing bank ownership, deposit insurance, payment systems, and creditor protection help the wealthiest households and have little effect on the low-income, rural, or minority households.

Thorbecke, 06 October 2010, 34334 reads

The US-China currency dispute remains heated. This column argues that if a real appreciation in the Chinese currency is not achieved through exchange rate adjustment, it will happen through inflation in China and deflation in the US. It says a better Chinese policy mix would involve nominal appreciation of the renminbi combined with absorption-increasing policies such as developing human infrastructure.

Aizenman, Sengupta, 05 October 2010, 25879 reads

Are China and Germany both responsible for the global imbalances? Using four decades of current-account data, this column argues that the role of the US should not be overlooked. A rise in the US’ current-account deficit is matched one for one with a rise in China and Germany’s surpluses. But this relationship – and the global imbalances with it – may well be coming to an end.

Görg, Hanley, Strobl, 05 October 2010, 15496 reads

A chief concern for countries aiming to attract investment is how it will trickle down to the local economy. This column presents evidence on the effect of government grants to foreign companies investing in Ireland between 1983 and 2002. It finds that the grants had little effect on generating supply links with local firms and argues that governments should instead work towards reducing partner search costs.

Tabellini, 05 October 2010, 12577 reads

The current European economic governance needs reform. This column argues that rather than trying to invade national governments’ autonomy in economic policy, the European authorities should focus on the transfer of sovereignty in the field of financial supervision.

De Grauwe, 04 October 2010, 22249 reads

The European Commission has just presented its proposals to strengthen the Stability and Growth Pact. This column argues it is a very bad idea as it is based on a wrong diagnosis of the causes of the debt crisis in the Eurozone and because there cannot be taxation without representation. It suggests reforms should not only focus on the responsibilities of national governments but also on those of the ECB.

Wyplosz, 04 October 2010, 19213 reads

Can the Eurozone’s Stability and Growth Pact be made to work? This column argues that the European Commission’s reform proposals for the pact include some good ideas but many bad ones. If adopted, it says the pact will not significantly advance fiscal discipline in the Eurozone but it could turn out to be a transition to an effective framework.

Prados de la Escosura, 04 October 2010, 20871 reads

As highlighted by the Millennium Development Goals, measuring development is crucial. This column presents a new human development index challenging the UN measure. It shows that the global average level of human development is “low” and that even by 2007 the level of human development outside of the OECD was similar to that of the richest countries in 1938.

Tol, 04 October 2010, 16813 reads

Policymakers are increasingly referring to panels of experts to inform their decisions on a broad range of issues. This column uses the example of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to argue that relying too heavily on just one panel of experts allows the experts to behave like monopolists of the truth. It says that, like any monopolist, they should be regulated.

Uhlig, 04 October 2010, 13644 reads

Identifying recessions is crucial to guiding policymaking. This column reports the findings of the CEPR Business Cycle Dating Committee for the Eurozone for the last recession. It reports that the trough in economic activity occurred in the second quarter of 2009, marking the end of the recession that began in the first quarter of 2008. The recession lasted 6 quarters and the total decline in output from peak to trough was 5.5%. April 2009 marked a clear trough in industrial production, following the peak in January 2008.

Angelini, Nobili, 03 October 2010, 20142 reads

Financial markets were in a state of fear during the summer of 2007. The spread between interest rates on unsecured and secured deposits recorded an unprecedented rise. This column examines trading data from European banks to argue that the widening spread was driven by aggregate factors – risk aversion and accounting practices – rather than bank-specific concerns.

Chaloupka, Peck, Tauras, Xu, Yurekli, 03 October 2010, 32390 reads

Governments tax tobacco products for both revenue and public health purposes. How should they structure tobacco taxes? This column uses data from 21 EU countries between 1998 and 2007 to argue that cigarettes should be subject to a high, uniform specific tax in the interest of both objectives.

Barrios, Langedijk, Pench, 02 October 2010, 16878 reads

Europe’s policymakers are trying to balance fiscal consolidation with economic recovery. This column examines financial crises in EU and OECD countries from 1970 to 2008 and finds that countries facing high debt levels or those at risk of low GDP growth would be better off with quick, “cold-shower” fiscal consolidations. Other countries might benefit from a more gradual approach.

Santiso, 02 October 2010, 12310 reads

Brazil's elections this weekend are not expected to trouble financial markets, unlike some of the country's previous electoral episodes. This column attributes that to Brazil's embrace of pragmatic policymaking and stable democracy, which have made it a major player in the international economic and political arenas. Brazil is a power of the present.

Frankel, 02 October 2010, 13723 reads

Over the last decade, the volatility of commodity prices has led many Latin American and Caribbean countries to demand a currency regime that accommodates terms-of-trade shocks. This column compares proposals for “product price targeting” with exchange-rate and CPI targeting. It finds that product price targeting would be more effective at stabilising the real domestic prices of tradable goods.

Ulltveit-Moe, Moxnes, 01 October 2010, 16077 reads

The great trade collapse during the global crisis has opened a new chapter in trade debate. This column uses evidence from a real-exchange-rate shock in Norway to show how firms initially slowed down or postponed the introduction of new products to the market. It argues that this sort of response suggests a long and difficult recovery from the global trade collapse – unless policymakers intervene.

Ariel Aaronson, 01 October 2010, 26706 reads

In response to Dr. Cernat’s call for feedback on the EU’s trade policy, this column calls on Europeans and Americans to rethink their trade policies. It argues both can meet 21st century needs only by collaborating, mostly at the WTO. Trade policy challenges are also an opportunity to make the system more coherent and meet the goals of expanding trade, enhancing human welfare and increasing employment.

Dittmar, 01 October 2010, 13041 reads

The movable type printing press was the great innovation in early modern information technology, but until now, little evidence has been found of an impact on growth. Jeremiah Dittmar, who was then at American University in Washington, DC, talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his research, which seems to resolve this precursor of the Solow paradox. The interview was recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Glasgow in August 2010.