Annika B. Bergbauer, Eric Hanushek, Ludger Woessmann, 17 September 2018

School systems increasingly use student assessments for accountability purposes. By combining accountability reforms with international student achievement data over the past 15 years, this column shows that the expansion of standardised testing with external comparisons has improved student achievement in maths, science, and reading, while internal testing or teacher inspectorates without external comparisons have not. 

Eugenio Cerutti, Stijn Claessens, Luc Laeven, 17 September 2018

The Global Crisis was a catalyst for the adoption of macroprudential policies around the world. Using newly updated data, this column examines the adoption of macroprudential policy instruments from 2000 to 2017. Since 2015, advanced economies have on average been using more instruments than emerging economies and low-income countries. While some instruments seem to be effective, it remains to be seen whether this suite of policies can deliver overall financial stability.

Andrew Rose, 17 September 2018

The export consequences of a country’s leadership style are one manifestation of ‘soft power’.  This column uses Gallup’s World Poll data and a gravity model of trade to examine the link between the attractiveness of the US to foreigners under the Trump administration and US exports. The results suggest a decline in foreign approval of US leadership between 2016 (Obama’s last year) and 2017 (Trump’s first year) may have lowered US exports by at least 0.2% or, over $3 billion.

Davide Debortoli, Jinill Kim, Jesper Lindé, Ricardo Nunes, 16 September 2018

Previous studies have suggested that for central banks, a focus on inflation stabilisation is enough to stabilise other macroeconomic variables, and that focusing on economic activity can even be harmful. Using a model similar to those in use at central banks, this column studies the welfare implications of increasing the weight on economic activity in the central bank’s objective. The results suggest that stabilising measures of economic activity should be one of the primary objectives of central banks, as important as or even more important than stabilising inflation around its target. 

Roger Farmer, 16 September 2018

Originally published in February 2009, this column proposes a new paradigm to reconcile Keynesian economics with general equilibrium theory. It suggests that, just as it sets the fed funds rate to control inflation, the Fed should set a stock market index to control unemployment. This would not let every manufacturing firm and every bank fail at the same time “as a result of speculative movements in markets that serve no social purpose.”

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