Samuel Bowles, Wendy Carlin, 07 September 2017

Our intro courses fail to reflect the dramatic advances in economics – concerning information problems and strategic interactions, for example – since Samuelson’s paradigm-setting 1948 textbook. Missing, too, is any sustained engagement with new problems we now confront and on which economics has important insights for public policy – climate change, innovation, instability and growing inequality amongst them. This column introduces a free online interactive text – now used as the standard intro at UCL, Sciences Po, and Toulouse School of Economics – which responds.

Oliver Hart, 19 June 2017

Contracts can’t specify everything, as it requires being far-sighted and foreseeing every possible event. In this video, Oliver Hart discusses who gets to decide on the left-out elements, and how control rights are allocated. This video was recorded at the Royal Economic Society Annual Conference held in Bristol in April 2017.

Maija Halonen-Akatwijuka, 29 October 2016

Oliver Hart has been jointly awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences with Bengt Holmström "for their contributions to contract theory". This column discusses his contributions, focusing particularly on incomplete contracts.

Laura Alfaro, Pol Antràs, Davin Chor, Paola Conconi, 20 September 2015

Building on Antras and Chor (2013), we describe a property-rights model of firm boundary choices along the value chain. To assess the evidence, we construct firm-level measures of the upstreamness of integrated and non-integrated inputs by combining information on the production activities of firms operating in more than 100 countries with Input-Output tables. In line with the model’s predictions, we find that whether a firm integrates upstream or downstream suppliers depends crucially on the elasticity of demand for its final product. Our results suggest that contractual frictions play an important role in shaping the integration choices of firms around the world.

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