Frontiers of economic research

Hanna Halaburda, Guillaume Haeringer, Neil Gandal, Joshua Gans, 29 July 2020

Since its launch in 2009, there has been increasing interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Initially mostly discussed in popular media, more recently a growing body of academic research has emerged on the topic, spanning many fields such as macroeconomics, law and economics, and computer science. This column focuses on the microeconomics of cryptocurrencies, specifically on their supply, demand, trading price, and the competition amongst different cryptocurrencies. It summarises the main findings in this literature over the past decade and establishes a base for future research.

Chad Jones, Christopher Tonetti, 28 July 2020

Data are nonrival in nature. Using a standard model in which firms produce differentiated goods using labour and data as fundamental inputs, this column explores the economic implications of this nonrival nature of data. It suggests that having consumers own their personal data instead of firms may help achieve two important goals. First, consumers would respect their own privacy. Second, consumers would have incentives to sell their data to multiple organisations, thus taking advantage of infinite usability.

Karol Jan Borowiecki, Christian Møller Dahl, 02 July 2020

Black Americans have been underrepresented in the nation’s creative industries since the end of slavery. This column argues that the implications of that marginalization extend beyond career choices into homes and neighbourhoods, as cities with thriving arts sectors also lead in job creation, innovation, and trade. The authors recommend that financial support for black artists be pursued in a systematic way, with policies that provide emerging black artists with access not only to relevant artistic networks, but also to supply-related organisations such as gallerists and publishers.

Dirk Niepelt, 22 June 2020

Notoriously inconclusive policy recommendations and the failure to foresee the Great Recession have caused many commentators to voice doubts about the usefulness of macroeconomics. This column argues that macroeconomics can offer a coherent framework to understand and evaluate policy options, but macroeconomists need to explain the field’s subject matter and findings better to both policymakers and the general public. A new textbook aims at closing the gulf between macroeconomic research and widespread misconceptions about it by providing a concise and rigorous introduction to modern macroeconomic theory.

Charles Manski, 12 June 2020

Formation of COVID-19 policy must cope with many substantial uncertainties about the nature of the disease, the dynamics of the pandemic, and behavioural responses. This column argues that instead of making policy that is optimal in hypothetical scenarios but potentially far from optimal in reality, it is more prudent to approach COVID-19 policy as a problem in decision making under uncertainty. Under ‘adaptive diversification’, a range of policies would be implemented across locations and policymakers would be able to revise the proportion of locations assigned to each policy as evidence accumulates.

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