Transport infrastructure investment is a cornerstone of growth-promoting strategies around the world. However, investment in new infrastructure is not always conducive to stronger economic performance. This column argues that the lack of positive economic returns may be due to institutional failures mitigating the growth effects of public capital expenditures. In contexts marked by weak and inefficient governments and widespread corruption, different types of road investments yield low or no economic returns.
Riccardo Crescenzi, Marco Di Cataldo, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 11 April 2017
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.
Brian Bell, John Van Reenen, 05 August 2016
Lacklustre growth seems to be the new normal almost everywhere in the world except for one area – CEO pay. This column uses data on UK publicly listed firms to examine whether weak governance leads to pay rises for CEOs that are not justified by performance. CEO pay asymmetry – pay responding more to increases in firm performance than to decreases – appears to occur mainly in firms with a low share of institutional owners able to exert external control. CEOs at such firms are also more likely to be paid for ‘luck’, with pay rises rewarding random positive shocks unrelated to performance.
Rudiger Ahrend, Alexander Lembcke, Abel Schumann, 19 January 2016
A city’s metropolitan governance structure has a critical influence on the quality of life and economic outcomes of its inhabitants. This column quantifies the impact of governance on productivity using data from five OECD countries. Administrative fragmentation, which complicates policy coordination across a city, has a negative effect on individual productivity. This finding, combined with benefits from good governance such as improved transport and lower pollution levels, highlights the importance of well-designed metropolitan authorities.
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.
Nicholas Bloom, Renata Lemos, Raffaella Sadun, John Van Reenen, 07 December 2014
Schools with greater autonomy often perform well, but there is disagreement over whether this is due to better management or cherry-picking of students. Based on interviews with over 1,800 head teachers, this column finds that management quality is strongly correlated with pupil performance. Autonomous schools have better management, and this result does not appear to be driven by pupil composition or other observable factors. However, autonomy for head teachers is not enough – accountability to school governors is also needed.
John Helliwell, Haifang Huang, Shawn Grover, Shun Wang, 30 November 2014
Evaluations of wellbeing complement and encompass established measures of economic progress. This column presents findings on the way governance affects wellbeing. The results indicate that people are more satisfied with their lives in countries with better governance quality. Confidence and trust in public institutions play an important role in this finding. Additional benefits to wellbeing arise when nations are able to better weather economic and other crises.
Jesús Fernández-Villaverde, Luis Garicano, Tano Santos, 30 April 2013
By the end of the 1990s, under the incentive of Eurozone entry, most peripheral European countries were busy undertaking structural reforms and putting their fiscal houses in order. This column argues that the arrival of the euro, and the subsequent interest-rate convergence, loosened a tide of cheap money that reversed the incentives for further reforms. As a result, by the end of the euro’s first decade, the institutions and governance in the Eurozone periphery were in worse shape than they were at the start of the decade.
Nicklas Garemo, Jan Mischke, 30 March 2013
Investment in infrastructure can bring growth and social benefits. This column highlights the infrastructure opportunities open to depressed economies, stressing that the main obstacles are governance-related. To bring opportunities to life will require an overhaul of infrastructure governance – a root cause of infrastructure projects’ poor productivity.
Andrea Boltho, Wendy Carlin, 31 March 2012
Divergent behaviour from Eurozone countries that have very different economic, social, and political structures is threatening the existence of the single currency. This column argues that the Eurozone is a fragile bureaucratic creation that has hardly ever raised much popular enthusiasm anywhere. If behaviour across the area remains as asymmetric as it has been over the last decade or so, the project could run into even stronger headwinds in the long run.
Daniel Gros, 09 November 2011
As Italy’s debt crisis enters the danger zone the question arises: Can Italy ever overcome its decade-old growth slump? This column shows that Italy’s growth fundamentals are all in pretty good shape, except one - good governance. Worldwide Governance Indicators show a dramatic worsening during the Berlusconi governments especially when it comes to the rule of law, government effectiveness, and control of corruption. Progress on improving these might in the end be more important for growth than the reforms the EU demands.
Daniel Gros, 17 June 2010
Many analysts of the Eurozone crisis take members’ asymmetric competitiveness for granted and underplay the role of the global crisis. This essay argues that some of the trends which now are widely assumed to be the result of the euro are actually natural consequences of two unique events: German unification and the mid-decade global credit boom.
Jean Pisani-Ferry, 17 June 2010
The crisis has revealed deep flaws in the Eurozone’s governance regime. This essay argues that EU leaders should address fundamental questions about the operational principles upon which the euro is based. Key choices for Eurozone leaders are the nature of the economic policy framework, the optimal degree of decentralisation, and the identification of reforms that will ensure the policy regime can deal with all eventualities.
Milan Brahmbhatt, Otaviano Canuto, 02 March 2010
How important are primary commodities for economic development? This column suggests that primary commodity prices are likely to ease over the next five years. Nevertheless, commodity revenues will remain high, raising challenges that, if not addressed, can harm long-run development. With good governance, however, such revenues can also be a valuable resource to help accelerate overall development.
Paul Collier, Lisa Chauvet, 21 November 2009
There is some evidence that democracies enjoy better economic growth. How do elections, a core component of democracy, impact economic policy? This says that free and fair elections in developing countries improve economic policy by disciplining governments. But infrequent or uncompetitive elections may actually make things worse.
Joshua Aizenman, Reuven Glick, 16 January 2009
This column provides evidence that there is great deal of difference between the governance standards of the economies in which sovereign wealth funds have been established and the standards of the industrial economies in which they are seeking to invest. It also discusses how the expansion of asset holdings of sovereign wealth funds may reduce official reserve holdings.
Harald Hau, Johannes Steinbrecher, Marcel Thum, 12 January 2009
This column shows that German banks with more competent supervisory board members suffered smaller losses in the subprime crisis. Improving bank governance is therefore desirable – from both the public and private perspectives – and may be more robust than other regulatory tools.
Petra Geraats, Francesco Giavazzi, Charles Wyplosz, 07 February 2008
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.