VoxEU & CEPR Coverage of the Covid-19 Global Pandemic

Hans Koster, Takatoshi Tabuchi, Jacques-François Thisse, 09 May 2021

Modern transportation infrastructure can help foster cheaper travel and a better-connected economy. This column shows that improvements in transportation can affect the location choices of firms in ways that are often beneficial to large regions, but may be detrimental to small intermediate regions through job losses. Using data from Japan’s high speed rail network, the authors confirm that ‘in-between’ municipalities that are connected to the network witness a sizeable decrease in employment.

Clara von Bismarck-Osten, Kirill Borusyak, Uta Schӧnberg, 08 May 2021

Deciding whether to close schools to contain the spread of Covid-19 requires balancing the harm such closures inflict on families against their effectiveness in stopping the spread of disease. This column provides evidence from Germany that school closures did not contain infections among young people or adults in the summer of 2020 – when infection rates were low – or during the pandemic’s autumn resurgence. Thus, the benefits of school closures may not outweigh their costs to children and parents, particularly mothers. 

Sabrina Howell, Jason Rathje, John Van Reenen, Jun Wong, 08 May 2021

In recent decades, US defence R&D seems to have lost its lustre. To combat the declining innovation, in 2018 the US Air Force reformed its contracting procedures to allow applicants more freedom to suggest projects with potential military benefits. This column uses data on applications and winners from such competitions to assess the effects of the reform. It finds that the ‘open’ programme attracts new and younger firms, increases future venture capital investment, and increases patenting. Government R&D could thus benefit from more bottom-up, decentralised approaches to promote innovation in the public sector. 

Laurence Ball, Gita Gopinath, Daniel Leigh, Prachi Mishra, Antonio Spilimbergo, 07 May 2021

How high is the ongoing US fiscal expansion likely to push inflation? This column presents new evidence that underlying (weighted median) CPI inflation has so far steadily declined since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, broadly as predicted by its historical Phillips curve relation. If the ongoing fiscal expansion reduces unemployment to 1.5-3.5%, as some predict, underlying inflation could rise to about 2.5-3% by 2023. If the fiscal expansion is temporary and monetary policy remains clearly communicated and decisive, there is little risk of a 1960s-type inflationary spiral.

Christoph Schmidt, Marcel Fratzscher, Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, Clemens Fuest, Christian Gollier, Philippe Martin, Isabelle Mejean, Xavier Ragot, Katheline Schubert, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 06 May 2021

The EU has announced reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 as the key target of its Green Deal strategy. The best coordination signal in this endeavour would be a uniform and encompassing price on carbon. To ascertain that all goods consumed in the EU face the same carbon price, it would be sensible to credibly prepare the implementation of border carbon adjustments  applied to imported goods. This column argues, however, that the EU should refrain from exempting exports from carbon pricing, and should consider a border carbon adjustment mechanism only after having established a credible uniform carbon-pricing mechanism within its jurisdiction. This could provide incentives to other countries to join a far-reaching international alliance for carbon pricing.

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