Rabah Arezki, Raouf Boucekkine, Jeffrey Frankel, Mohammed Laksaci, Rick van der Ploeg, 24 April 2018

After years of high commodity prices, a new era of lower ones, especially for oil, seems likely to persist. This will be challenging for resource-rich countries, which must cope with the decline in income that accompanies the lower prices and the potential widening of internal and external imbalances. This column presents a new VOXEU eBook in which leading economists from academia and the public and private sector examine the shifting landscape in commodity markets and look at the exchange rate, monetary, and fiscal options policymakers have, as well as the role of finance, including sovereign wealth funds, and diversification.

Cristina Conflitti, Riccardo Cristadoro, 21 March 2018

A recent strand of literature suggests that the decline of long-term inflation expectations observed between 2014 and 2016 was partly due to the fall in oil prices. Using euro area data, this column argues that this presumed relationship is false. Lower global demand prompted a positive correlation between oil prices and the real economy, while perceived constraints on monetary policy action resulted in a positive correlation between short- and long-term inflation expectations. These two phenomena explain the emergence of the apparent direct relationship.

Rick van der Ploeg, Armon Rezai, 05 January 2018

Trump’s election has brought climate change deniers to the centre of global policymaking. This column uses Pascal’s wager as a model to explore optimal policy given uncertainty over the fundamental causes of global warming. This agnostic approach finds that assigning even a high probability to climate change deniers being correct has insignificant effects on policy. Pricing carbon is shown to be optimal in either case, and robust to whether policymakers want to maximise global welfare, or minimise regret in the worst case.

Zuzana Irsova, Tomas Havranek, Dominik Herman, 02 December 2017

The original rationale for daylight saving time was energy savings. This column reveals, however, that the modern empirical literature on the topic finds no savings on average. The extent of savings is related to latitude – regions at higher latitude enjoy slightly more savings, but subtropical regions consume more energy because of daylight saving time. Even in Scandinavia, the savings amount to just 0.3% of annual energy consumption. Policymakers must look at other effects of daylight saving time to justify the continued use of the policy.

Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, Aditya Pande, 24 September 2017

The motor vehicle was very quick to replace horses in the early 20th century, and the advent of the electric car suggests that another profound shift in transportation and energy could be around the corner. This column projects how different rates of electric car adoption will effect oil demand and consumption over the next three decades. In a fast-adoption scenario, oil prices could converge to the level of current coal prices by the early 2040s. Even under a slow adoption scenario, oil could become obsolete before it is depleted.

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