Microeconomic regulation

Toby Nangle, Matt Tickle, 20 April 2017

While defined benefit pension schemes are typically viewed as users rather than sources of sponsor-firm funds, the considerations taken into account when firms choose to scale contributions are such that they become indistinguishable from other firm financing decisions. This column analyses how pension scheme funding deficits arise and argues that whilst deficits do not exist by design, firms’ decision to fund or underfund a defined benefit scheme might usefully be examined as one of many competing sources of long-term finance.

Pierre Dubois, Rachel Griffith, Martin O'Connell, 31 March 2017

There have been calls for restrictions on junk food advertising to tackle rising rates of obesity around the world. This column examines the likely effect of a ban on potato crisp advertising. Results suggest that the total quantity of crisps sold would fall by around 15% in the presence of a ban, or by 10% if firms respond with price cuts. The welfare benefits from this would depend on whether current advertising is persuasive, informative or complementary.

Minouche Shafik, 22 November 2016

The spread of financial shocks globally has caused some to argue that capital accounts should be more closed, thereby shrinking the opportunities available to global savers and borrowers alike. That would put further downward pressure on interest rates in surplus economies, and upward pressure on borrowing costs in economies where the greatest opportunities lie. This column argues that by acting in their local interest, domestic macroprudential policymakers can safeguard against the risk of financial instability spilling across borders, while continuing to allow capital to flow to where it is of most use.

Gabriel Ahlfeldt, Nancy Holman, 24 September 2016

Good architectural design is a public good, but economists and policymakers lack robust evidence on the impact of well designed architecture on location value when planning spaces. This column verifies the worth of preserving and designing good architectural spaces by analysing the changes in property prices across conservation and non-conservation areas in England. It finds that good design in buildings has a substantial positive impact on location value. 

Alex Edmans, 23 September 2016

During political campaigns, candidates often set their sights on CEO compensation as a target for potential regulation. This column considers the various arguments for regulating CEO pay and questions whether it is a legitimate target for political intervention. Some arguments for regulation are shown to be erroneous, and some previous interventions are shown to have failed. While regulation can address the symptoms, only independent boards and large shareholders can solve the underlying problems.

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