Frontiers of economic research

Simon Anderson, Øystein Foros, Hans Kind, 15 August 2018

Media platforms traditionally delivered the widest possible audience to advertisers. This column argues that the arrival of digital competition in media has created a battle for ‘exclusive eyeballs’ – a niche audience not shared with competitors. While this increases diversity in the media, it also incentivises media outlets to polarise to attract specific groups, and to create echo chambers to retain them.

Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, Avi Goldfarb, 07 August 2018

Regardless of whether one adopts a pessimistic or optimistic view of artificial intelligence, policy will shape how it affects society. This column looks at both the policies that will influence the diffusion of AI and policies that will address its consequences. One of the most significant long-run policy issues relates to the potential for artificial intelligence to increase inequality. 

Arna Olafsson, Michaela Pagel, 07 August 2018

Theories of rational inattention argue that individuals incur costs when they look for information, and that they compare these costs with the expected benefits from that information. This column uses empirical evidence on online logins to bank accounts to show that in this context, attention tends to be selective – subject to an 'ostrich effect' that avoids the discovery of bad news, for example – rather than rational. This selective attention may intensify individual financial problems such as debt traps.

Era Dabla-Norris, Ruud de Mooij, 07 August 2018

A key problem in tax research is that quantitative information is often only available for tax rates, not tax bases. This column introduces a new IMF database on tax reforms published, which uses text-mining techniques to infer multiple dimensions of tax reforms enacted in 23 advanced and emerging economies over the last four decades. The database, which covers both direct and indirect taxes, can help address well-known methodological pitfalls in existing tax research and offers opportunities for novel analysis of tax policy.

Sabrina Howell, Marina Niessner, David Yermack, 23 July 2018

Initial coin offerings, whereby a blockchain-based venture raises capital by selling cryptographically secured digital assets (or ‘tokens’), may represent a significant innovation in entrepreneurial finance. This column studies a sample of 453 tokens that completed ICOs to investigate what types of issuer and token are successful. Tokens that offer voluntary disclosure, credibly commit to the project, and signal quality or potential to create substantial value tend to be more successful, and a founder or CEO with an entrepreneurial professional background is also beneficial.

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