Morgan Kelly, Cormac Ó Gráda, 18 August 2018

Little is known about migration to cities in the era before railways. The column uses data on the origins of women arrested for prostitution in Paris in the 1760s, women registered as prostitutes in the 1830s and 1850s, men holding identity cards during the French Revolution, as well as everyone buried in 1833 to examine patterns of migration. Migration was highest from areas with high living standards, and the impact of distance fell as transport improved. Distance was a stronger deterrent to females than to males, consistent with more limited employment opportunities for women.

Marcel Fratzscher, Christoph Grosse Steffen, Malte Rieth, 17 August 2018

Does inflation targeting help absorb large shocks? This column shows that it implies higher output growth and lower inflation when countries are hit by natural disasters. Hard targeting works in these cases; soft targeting does not. This has impacts for how we evaluate the success of inflation targeting during the global crisis, but also for the debate on flexible inflation targeting.

Andres Blanco, Javier Cravino, 17 August 2018

Economists have often interpreted the observation that movements in real exchange rates are large, persistent, and closely track movements in nominal rates while cross-country differences in inflation rates are small and stable as direct evidence for nominal price rigidities. This column uses the microdata behind the construction of the consumer price index to isolate the real exchange rate for the subset of goods that change prices. This ‘reset exchange rate’ moves with the real exchange rate, suggesting that sticky prices are not a primary factor in dampening the response of inflation to exchange rate shocks.

Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, Matthieu Bussière, Pauline Wibaux, 16 August 2018

Recent events on the international stage have reignited the debate on trade and currency wars. This column compares two forms of non-cooperative policies – import tariffs and currency devaluations – within a single framework. The results show that tariffs and devaluations do not have equivalent effects on trade flows. A 1% depreciation of the importer's currency reduces imports by around 0.5% in current dollars, whereas an increase in import tariffs by 1 percentage point reduces imports by around 1.4%.

Sauro Mocetti, Giacomo Roma, Enrico Rubolino, 16 August 2018

A large proportion of workers are employed in licensed occupations whose entry conditions and economic returns are significantly shaped by regulation. This column examines the consequences of two waves of liberalisation in professional services in Italy since the 2000s for intergenerational mobility and allocative efficiency. The analysis reveals a substantial decrease in the propensity to follow the same career as one’s parents, particularly among less able children, suggesting that anticompetitive regulation might produce inefficiencies in the allocation of talents across occupations.

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