Politics and economics

Caroline Le Pennec, Vincent Pons, Vestal McIntyre, 22 September 2020

The first televised debate between US President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden will take place next week. But while it is being portrayed as a make-or-break moment in the campaign, this column argues that TV debates between candidates do not substantially impact vote choice. Instead, a campaign wishing to sway last-minute voters might do better by focusing on individual outreach – a challenging prospect, given the Covid-19 pandemic.

Benny Kleinman, Ernest Liu, Stephen Redding, 17 September 2020

The increasingly prominent role of China in the world economy has led to widespread discussions concerning the balance of power, trade relations, and economic development. This column presents a new ‘friends and enemies’ model which is used to show that significant growth and welfare effects have stemmed from China’s shifting role, and that changes in trading clusters have varied across different sectors. The findings also suggest that as countries become less economically friendly in terms of the welfare effects of their productivity growth, they also become less politically friendly in terms of foreign policy. 

Runjing Lu, 04 September 2020

Many Americans blame China for Covid-19. Runjing Lu tells Tim Phillips that the way politicians have exploited the pandemic has led to an increase in prejudice against the US Asian community.

Rabah Arezki, Simeon Djankov, Ha Nguyen, Ivan Yotzov, 24 August 2020

It is often argued that democracy is the least imperfect form of government mainly because of the existence of a ‘self-correcting’ mechanism stemming from voice and accountability embedded in democracies. Using text analysis from about a billion newspaper articles in 28 languages, this column shows that the intensity of reform chatter increases during economic downturns and that the increase is more significant in democracies. During downturns, democracies appear to benefit disproportionately from changing popular attitudes translating into actual reforms.

Alex Imas, Kristóf Madarász, 22 August 2020

Protectionism, nationalism, left- and right-wing populism are on the rise all over the world. This column tests the premise that the value a person attaches to consuming an object or possessing an attribute increases in others' unmet excess desire for it, terming this behaviour as mimetic dominance seeking. On the basis of two experiments designed to provide direct evidence of this behaviour, it finds that mimetic dominance leads to a reluctance to trade and a direct preference for objects that become scarcer, with the latter generating a motive for exclusion.

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