Industrial organisation

Natasha Kalara, Lu Zhang, Karen van der Wiel, 09 March 2019

The Global Crisis has profoundly changed the financial landscape, including firm financing. This column examines the development of various channels of firm financing before and after the crisis among four groups of EU countries, the US, and Japan. While bank finance and, to some extent, equity finance are under pressure, alternative finance, although small, seems to be on the rise.

Olivier Coibion, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Tiziano Ropele, 05 March 2019

With nominal short-term interest rates close to their effective lower bound, monetary policies partly operate through changing the inflation expectations. This column analyses the causal effect of inflation expectations on firms’ economic decisions in Italy. Higher inflation expectations on the part of firms leads them to raise their prices, increase their utilisation of credit, and reduce their employment. But when policy rates are constrained by the effective lower bound, expansionary effects are stronger, leading firms to raise their prices more and no longer reduce their employment.

Emine Boz, Nan Li, Hongrui Zhang, 28 February 2019

It is commonly observed that economies specialising in sectors, such as services, that face relatively high trade costs tend to run current account deficits, while those specialising in more easily tradable sectors tend to run surpluses. This column tests the causality of this observation by constructing a measure of effective trade costs. Results show that although higher effective exporting costs are associated with lower current account balances, the impact of those costs is quantitatively limited. The findings suggest that the contribution of trade costs to observed global imbalances has been modest.

Jacques Bughin, 26 February 2019

The US and China are clear leaders in investment in, and the adoption of, artificial intelligence. This column argues that while Europe lags in these areas, it is home to high levels of developer talent and to significant AI hubs. European AI may thrive if its human capital and innovation culture are combined with levels of investment seen elsewhere.

Wouter Dessein, Andrea Prat, 25 February 2019

A growing body of empirical work documents how management is a key production factor, both in terms of management practices and managerial talent. This column distinguishes three disparate theories, proposing a new framework that reconciles the insight of each. Contingency theory holds that firms always make optimal decisions, while the organisation-centric and leader-centric approaches hold that firms adopt better management practices, or hire better CEOS, respectively, for unmodeled reasons. The new framework integrates leadership quality and organisational capital, and generates new testable hypotheses.

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