Julia Cagé, Valeria Rueda, 17 March 2018

HIV prevention in sub-Saharan Africa is often shaped by the influence of Christian churches, tending to focus on abstinence rather than safer sexual behaviour. This column investigates the relationship between historical Christian missionary activities and HIV prevalence today. Regions close to missions in general tend to exhibit higher HIV prevalence, an effect that is driven by Protestant missions. Regions close to missions that specifically invested in health, however, exhibit lower HIV prevalence today.

Robert Shiller, Jonathan D. Ostry, James Benford, Mark Joy, 16 March 2018

While the idea of governments issuing debt instruments whose repayments are indexed to GDP is not new, the current global backdrop of high government debt suggests the case for doing so might be especially strong now. This column introduces a new eBook in which leading economists, lawyers, and investors examine the case for issuing GDP-linked bonds, the obstacles to market development, ways of overcoming them, and what such a security might look like in practice.

David Cobham, 16 March 2018

Monetary policy characterisations across countries rely on the availability of data, but while exchange rate classifications are well developed, the same is not true for domestic targets. This column introduces a new classification of the monetary policy frameworks of different advanced and emerging countries, including domestic and external targets. One trend revealed by the classification is the movement over time away from exchange rate targets and loosely structured discretion towards inflation targeting.

Jerónimo Carballo, Kyle Handley, Nuno Limão, 16 March 2018

Economic downturns can be both a cause and an effect of uncertainty. This column argues that uncertainty has international spillovers that can be mitigated via credible international trade agreements such as NAFTA, which provided US firms with valuable insurance against the widespread threat of a global trade war during the 2008 crisis. However, the credibility and insurance value of these agreements is being trumped by events such as Brexit, the renegotiation of NAFTA, and US threats of a trade war, which mark the start of a ‘trade cold war’.

Ousmène Jacques Mandeng, Piroska Nagy-Mohacsi, 15 March 2018

Cryptocurrencies have been the subject of recent attacks by official sector representatives, and the G20 finance ministers will consider regulatory proposals at their next meeting in Buenos Aires. This column argues that while cryptocurrencies present certain risks, they also represent an important innovation that promises to enhance choice and efficiency in monetary transactions. A proportionate, risk-based regulatory approach is required to accommodate differential attitudes and experiences and to avoid stifling innovation and competition. This implies having an open debate before sweeping regulatory action.

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