Jennifer Castle, David Hendry, Andrew Martinez, 21 January 2020

Real wages and productivity in the UK have stagnated since 2007, whereas employment has risen considerably. Many commentators lament the consequent failure of `living standards’ to rise at historical rates. But real GDP per capita has grown by more than 20% since 2000 despite the Great Recession, so aggregate living standards have in fact risen. This column resolves the apparent paradox.

Jean Barthélemy, Eric Mengus, Guillaume Plantin, 21 January 2020

Real interest rates are at historically low levels in advanced economies. This column looks at the implications for central bank independence. It argues that low rates, even though they relax the budget constraint of the public sector, will not necessarily strengthen central bank independence. Quite counterintuitively, in the current context of low inflation, preserving central bank independence may require that the public deficit be financed with helicopter money, rather than government debt, to prevent the government from entering into uncontrollable spending. 

Roger Svensson, Andreas Westermark, 21 January 2020

For almost 200 years, old coins were frequently declared invalid in large part of medieval Europe and had to be exchanged for new ones for an exchange fee. This column shows that frequent recoinage generates incomes for the minting authority when the tax level is low enough and the punishment for using invalid coins is high enough, and when there is a limited coin volume in circulation and also an exchange monopoly. The system is equivalent to the 20th-century idea known as the Gesell tax. 

Karl Aiginger, 20 January 2020

The new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced a ‘European Green Deal’ and the Commission has asserted Europe’s need to develop a new growth model to achieve climate neutrality. However, the Commission’s limited view of ‘productivity’ ignores the fact that raising labour productivity can raise emissions and accelerate climate change. Instead, this column argues that a welfare-oriented Green Deal needs to focus on resource and energy productivity, not raising labour productivity.

Anna Maria Mayda, Christopher Parsons, Han Pham, Pierre-Louis Vézina, 20 January 2020

While resettled refugees in the US historically exhibit remarkable success, this column shows that refugees also foster development to their origin countries through the mechanism of foreign direct investment. A 10% increase in refugees in a given commuting zone causes outward FDI flows to increase to their countries of origin, 10 to 15 years after having taken refuge, by 0.54%. Decisions made primarily for humanitarian reasons in developed host nations thus yield economic benefits for some of the world's poorest nations in the medium run.

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