Frontiers of economic research

Elias Papaioannou, Stefanie Stantcheva, 27 May 2020

To the world, Alberto Alesina was an engaged, prolific economist improving the policy debate. To the economics profession, he was a giant and driving force in the field of political economy. To the authors of this column, he was a brilliant, warm and funny close co-author and friend. 

Francesco Giavazzi, Guido Tabellini, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 26 May 2020

Alberto Alesina was one of the foundational pillars of political economics over many decades, and one of the most creative economists of his time. In this column, three friends of Alberto pay tribute to a man who was driven by a relentless curiosity and was a mentor and source of inspiration for innumerable students and colleagues.

Robert Lantis, Erik Nesson, 23 May 2020

The idea that basketball players can find themselves with a ‘hot hand’ – a streak in which they seem magically to make shot after shot – resonates with sports reporters and spectators alike. This column investigates whether the idea of the ‘hot hand’ holds any basis in fact. Analysing 12 seasons of data from the National Basketball Association, including over 500,0000 free throws and two million field goals, the authors conclude that the basketball ‘hot hand’ is largely illusory.   

Itai Agur, Anil Ari, Giovanni Dell'Ariccia, 19 May 2020

Various central banks are currently weighing up the introduction of central bank digital currency. This column proposes a framework that captures the key features and studies the implications of such a payment system. Central bank digital currency can be designed with attributes similar to cash or deposits. Currency that closely competes with deposits would likely depress bank credit, while cash-like currency could lead to the disappearance of cash. The optimal central bank digital currency design hence trades off bank intermediation against the social value of maintaining diverse payment instruments. The currency could be interest-bearing, which may help alleviate this trade-off.

Charles Wyplosz, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 11 May 2020

CEPR’s new vehicle for rapidly vetting and disseminating economic research on Covid-related issues is thriving – attracting something like six papers per day with about 40% passing the rapid, up-down vetting process. From its founding, the idea was that papers issued in Covid Economics would be submitted to professional journals after revision. Leading journals in the profession – including AER, JPE, REStud, and QJE – have accepted that appearing in Covid Economics does not constitute publication but rather is viewed as a posting in a working paper series. 

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