Industrial organisation

Shunsuke Managi, 14 August 2018

In Japan, as in many other countries, manufacturers are testing automated driving technology, and policymakers are considering how to implement it. This column discusses the demand for the technology in Japan, using a survey of consumers. Almost half intended to purchase automated vehicles or driving systems, but willingness to pay was below the likely additional cost. 

Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, Avi Goldfarb, 08 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. 

Sumit Agarwal, J. Bradford Jensen, Ferdinando Monte, 18 July 2018

Although the internet has greatly reduced the travel frictions that consumers face, for many goods and services, consumers’ willingness to travel is still a key factor influencing firms’ decisions. This column explores consumer mobility and purchases using credit card transaction data. Predictably, consumers travel further for more durable and less frequently consumed goods. The results suggest that consumer mobility may be relevant at the individual level and in the formation of local equilibrium outcomes.

Lin William Cong, Zhiguo He, 05 July 2018

Blockchain technology provides decentralised consensus, which potentially enlarges the contracting space using tamper-proof smart contracts. But this implies distributed information. The column argues that there is a tension between these two features of blockchain. While complete contracts may increase competition, distributed information may also make collusion between incumbents more effective. 

Ufuk Akcigit, Sina T. Ates, Giammario Impullitti, 02 July 2018

The optimal set of industrial policies to tackle increased competition from global technological rivals is once again the centre of a heated debate, with protectionist policies now gaining traction. Drawing on US experience three decades ago, this column examines the effects of import tariffs and R&D subsidies on domestic firms’ global competitiveness, aggregate growth, and welfare. It argues that import tariffs generate large dynamic productivity losses and may enhance welfare only for a short time horizon and when trading partners do not retaliate. By contrast, R&D subsidies stimulate domestic innovation and increase welfare, especially over longer time horizons, without jeopardising the gains from trade. 

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