Frontiers of economic research

Basil Halperin, Ben Ho, Ian Muir, John List, 02 October 2019

Even economies built on market capitalism are built on relationships. And when trust within relationships fray, apologies can help to restore them. This column describes the first large-scale apology experiment done in the field. Using the Uber platform to better understand the costs of apologising, the study asked why and in what cases apologies helped restore relationships. It finds that apologies can indeed work but are sometimes costly.

Tara Rice, Kathryn Petralia, 24 September 2019

On 24 September the CEPR launched the latest Geneva Report on the world economy, called Banking disrupted? Financial intermediation in an era of transformational technology. Tim Phillips asks Tara Rice and Kathryn Petralia, two of the authors, whether fintechs and cryptocurrencies signal the beginning of the end for banks.

Kathryn Petralia, Thomas Philippon, Tara Rice, Nicolas Véron, 24 September 2019

FinTech and Big Tech firms are both increasingly stepping on banks’ traditional turf. This column introduces the 22nd Geneva Report on the World Economy, which looks at the challenges generated by new technology-enabled entrants to the global banking industry and the public authorities that oversee it. It argues that to respond adequately to the FinTech/Big Tech challenge, authorities will need to raise their game and enter uncharted territories.

Janine Berg, Marianne Furrer, Ellie Harmon, Uma Rani, Michael "Six" Silberman, 20 September 2019

Cross-border, digital labour platforms permit real-time hiring for a range of jobs, from IT programming to graphic design, copywriting and routine clerical tasks. But little is known about working conditions on these platforms or about their employees. This column begins to fill that gap in the scholarship using an ILO survey of 3,500 workers from 75 countries and five major microtask platforms. It finds that even workers who perform valuable labour for successful companies often do so for low wages and without the protections of a regulated employment relationship.

Drew Johnston, Theresa Kuchler, Johannes Stroebel, Arlene Wong, 18 September 2019

Our consumption decisions are affected by our friends, but how large is the effect? The column uses Facebook data to show that when a person buys a new phone, the peer effects that tempt friends to purchase too are large and long-lasting. The effects are strongest for the young and less educated. Peer effects may also cause friends to switch operating systems when they buy new phones.

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