Fabio Berton, Sauro Mocetti, Andrea Presbitero, Matteo Richiardi, 09 February 2017

Understanding the real effects of financial shocks is essential for the design of effective growth-restoring policies. This column uses data on job contracts matched with the universe of firms and their banks from a region of Italy to analyse the employment effects of financial shocks. Financially constrained firms – especially the least productive ones – significantly reduced employment, mostly of less-educated and lower-skilled workers with temporary contracts. While these results suggest possible distributional effects across workers, they could also reflect a productivity-enhancing reallocation function of financial shocks.

Lucian Cernat, Marion Jansen, 07 February 2017

For some time, it was possible to win over trade sceptics by providing explicit numbers reflecting the losses from protectionism. Now it seems that the larger public has become indifferent to evidence-based debates. This column argues for increased use of micro-evidence and firm-level data in policy debates to make the case for trade. By linking trade to personal well-being, an increased focus on micro-economic evidence can generate stronger narratives and greater credibility among voters.

Harald Fadinger, Christian Ghiglino, Mariya Teteryatnikova, 24 December 2016

Economists are just starting to understand how observed input-output linkages and productivity differences are connected. This column investigates how differences in the distribution of sectoral input-output multipliers interact with sectoral productivities to determine cross-country differences in aggregate income. It finds that the impact of the linkages on productivity are substantial, which in turn has significant implications for policy.

Lionel Fontagné, Gianluca Orefice, 18 December 2016

Regulation is a barrier to trade. This column uses French firm-level panel data to assess how technical barriers to trade impact firms’ exports. In the presence of stringent barriers, exporters balance the cost of complying with this regulation against the fixed cost of entering a new market. Barriers reduce the number of exporting firms in each sector-destination, especially in sectors with many multi-destination firms.

Marcio Cruz, Maurizio Bussolo, Leonardo Iacovone, 01 December 2016

A recent literature has shown that successful firms have in common a deliberate and active management of their internal structure. This column uses an export promotion programme in Brazil that provided consulting on management and production practices to small and medium enterprises to examine whether policies can prompt and support firm reorganisations. It finds that firms participating in the programme were 20% more likely to add a new layer of workers with more specialised skills and competencies.

Hylke Vandenbussche, Christian Viegelahn, 02 October 2016

In a world where production is increasingly fragmented across borders, a large number of firms import their raw material inputs from abroad. This column investigates how firms’ input and output choices are affected by import tariffs on inputs that domestic firms use in production. Based on firm-product level data for India, it finds that firms decrease their use of inputs subject to the tariff, relative to other inputs. Firms also decrease their sales of outputs made of these inputs, relative to other outputs.

Dalia Marin , Linda Fache Rousová, Thierry Verdier, 21 September 2016

We know little detail about how much multinational firms transplant their organisational culture to affiliates. Data from Austrian and German multinational firms shows that, contrary to what we might expect, almost 70% of foreign investments do not adopt the parent firm's mode of organisation. This column argues that the size of the home and host markets, and the level of competition in each market, all influence the decision to transplant culture. Globalisation also creates 'reverse transplanting', in which the parent firm's organisation becomes more like the optimal organisation of the subsidiary. 

Alex Edmans, Clifford Holderness, 15 September 2016

The separation of ownership and control for public firms may lead to fully dispersed ownership where no shareholder has an incentive to engage in governance. This column argues that blockholders (owners of large stakes) play a critical role in long-term governance, partly through a credible threat to sell their stakes. This threat is undermined by well-intentioned policy moves to create holding-period incentives and requirements. If they succeed, these policies will make exit less likely and blockholders will lose a method to discipline managers.

Jérôme Héricourt, Clément Nedoncelle, 10 June 2016

The idea that exchange rate volatility generates additional costs and uncertainty that are detrimental to international trade is widely accepted. This column argues that big, multi-destination firms – which account for the bulk of aggregate exports – reallocate exports across countries as a foreign exchange hedge. When bilateral volatility increases relative to multilateral volatility, exports towards the considered market are hampered, but exports remain mainly unchanged at the macro level.

Manuel García Santana, Josep Pijoan-Mas, Enrique Moral-Benito, Roberto Ramos, 23 May 2016

Spain enjoyed substantial growth in the decade prior to the Global Crisis, despite declining aggregate productivity. Recent research blames the poor productivity on different forms of a ‘financial resource curse’. This column argues that resource misallocation was particularly severe due to corruption and crony capitalism. This suggests future growth will require serious political reforms. 

Dalia Marin , Jan Schymik, Alexander Tarasov, 19 March 2016

In the last decades the world economy has seen firms organise production into global value chains, decentralise their systems of command to incentivise workers, and start compensating CEOs with skyrocketing earnings. This column uses new data on German and Austrian firms to show that managerial offshoring to eastern Europe has increased decentralised management by 6.8% in relatively open sectors, but it has lowered the relative wages of executives in Germany and Austria by 4.9%.

Julián Caballero, Ugo Panizza, Andrew Powell, 05 February 2016

The increase in the debt of emerging market non-financial firms has been large. This column argues that to understand the risks, if any, it is important to know the state of corporate balance sheets and what firms have actually been doing. In some cases external debt has been issued to substitute more expensive local debt, in others to finance real investment, and in several countries it has been used to exploit carry trade opportunities. In virtually all cases, however, good information on corporate currency mismatches is hard to obtain. There needs to be better information and better reporting if we are to make headway.

Lorenzo Caliendo, Giordano Mion, Luca David Opromolla, Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 23 January 2016

Reorganisation doesn’t always create a more efficient and effective firm. This column assesses the extent to which a firm’s physical productivity varies as a result of reorganisation. The results suggest significant variation. For policymakers, studying and understanding the internal organisational responses of firms to firm-specific and economy-wide shocks is essential to understanding the level and distribution of productivity in an economy.

Rui Albuquerque, Miguel Ferreira, Luis Marques, Pedro Matos, 17 January 2016

Previous research has shown that the corporate governance practices of firms are constrained by the legal standards of their country of incorporation. This column explores how an active international market for corporate control can substitute for weak institutions in a host country. Using firm-level data from 22 countries, it shows how cross-border M&A activity improves the governance of non-target firms in the same industry, via peer pressure. These findings provide evidence for corporate governance improvements as a novel positive spillover from FDI.

Jan Hanousek, Evžen Kočenda, Anastasiya Shamshur, 19 July 2015

Understanding the determinants of firm performance is important if we want to improve how we do business. This column presents new research on corporate efficiency in Europe, highlighting the importance of firm characteristics such as firm ownership. Evidence suggests that a mix of majority and minority shareholders drives efficiency.

Hassen Arouri, Caroline Freund, Antonio Nucifora, Bob Rijkers, 03 July 2015

If more firms are established in developing countries, more jobs are created. But which type of firm creates the most jobs? This column presents evidence from Tunisia suggesting that once you’re established as a new and promising firm, it’s harder than it should be to grow and create jobs. Weak firm dynamics and imperfections in the market prevent the best firms from flourishing.

Laura Alfaro, Anusha Chari, Fabio Kanczuk, 22 January 2015

Capital controls are back in fashion. This column discusses new firm-level evidence from Brazil showing that capital controls segment international financial markets, reduce external financing, and lower firm-level investment. They disproportionately affect small, non-exporting firms, especially those more dependent on external finance. This suggests that macro-finance models focusing on aggregate variables are missing an important dimension by abstracting from firm-level heterogeneity. 

Florian Mayneris, Sandra Poncet, 13 October 2014

Minimum wage laws are often shown to have little impact on employment as the labour price rise can be offset by lower turnover, lower markups, and heightened efficiency, or ‘cleansing’ effects. This column shows that in a fast-growing economy like China, there is a ‘cleansing’ effect of labour market standards. Minimum wage growth allows more productive firms to replace the least productive ones and forces incumbent firms to become more competitive. Both mechanisms boost the aggregate efficiency of the economy.

Ejaz Ghani, William Kerr, Stephen O'Connell, 02 October 2014

Numerous countries have implemented seat reservations for women in politics over the past decades. Starting in the early 1990s, India’s flagship decentralisation reform instituted one-third seat reservations for women in local governance bodies. This column suggests that this political empowerment increased women’s economic empowerment through at least one channel, i.e. small-scale entrepreneurship. These findings suggest that political empowerment policies for women may additionally have beneficial economic effects in the longer run.