Productivity and Innovation

Peter Egger, Nicole Loumeau, 16 January 2019

Innovative activity is unevenly distributed geographically, with regional characteristics such as global market accessibility or an innovation-promoting policy environment affecting the spatial distribution. Using global data on regional characteristics, regional patenting output, and innovation-promoting policy environments, this column examines the origins of innovation clusters, and particularly the role of R&D tax policy instruments, in attracting innovative firms. It estimates that innovation-promoting R&D tax policy instruments contribute to about one-tenth of the long-term economic growth around the globe.

Andreas Fuster, Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham, Tarun Ramadorai, Ansgar Walther, 11 January 2019

The use of machine learning in credit allocation should allow lenders to better extend credit, but the shift from traditional to machine learning lending models may have important distributional effects for consumers. This column studies the effect of machine learning on mortgage lending in the US. It finds that machine learning would offer lower rates to racial groups who already were at an advantage under the traditional model, but it would also benefit disadvantaged groups by enabling them to obtain a mortgage in the first place.

Jian Jia, Ginger Jin, Liad Wagman, 07 January 2019

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation was a landmark piece of legislation stipulating how businesses approach consumers’ privacy with regards to data. Using EU and US data, this column explores how the legislation impacted technology venture investment. The implementation of GDPR had an immediate, pronounced, and negative effect on investment. However, these results do not necessarily constitute a welfare loss, and the long-term effects of GDPR remain to be seen. 

Emmanuel Dhyne, Jozef Konings, Jeroen Van den bosch, Stijn Vanormelingen, 07 January 2019

Although information technology has reshaped the way businesses operate, measuring IT capital in firms is challenging. Using an exceptionally rich firm-level dataset from Belgium, this column finds that large firms benefit more from IT than small firms, and that IT explains about 10% of the productivity dispersion. IT has contributed to Belgian GDP and productivity growth prior to the Global Crisis, but the recession seems to have led firms to forgo investment in IT. Achieving optimal IT investment levels could reinvigorate productivity growth.

Sharmin Sazedj, João Amador, José Tavares, 24 December 2018

When appointing a CEO, firms can choose a newcomer or someone who has been at the firm for a long time. Using data on Portuguese firms in the wake of the Global Crisis, this column finds no performance gap between newcomers and experienced CEOs in the period prior to the crisis. During the crisis, however, firms run by newcomer CEOs outperformed those run by experienced insiders. Newcomers attain higher productivity by making different decisions regarding personnel, expenditure, investment, and international trade. 

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