Gail Cohen, Prakash Loungani, 23 October 2018

At first glance, emissions and economic activity appear to be positively linked. This column refutes this by re-examining emissions and real GDP data using trend/cycle decompositions. The evidence clearly demonstrates decoupling of emissions and real GDP in many richer nations. Furthermore, although decoupling does not yet appear in emerging markets, data from China show that trend elasticities initially increase with per capita real GDP but then decline, thus holding out the hope that the relationship between emissions and GDP growth will weaken as emerging market countries get richer.

Marco Buti, András Chabin, Björn Döhring, João Leal, 13 July 2018

Next week, after ten days of swift, flat riding, the Tour de France reaches the Alps. The European economy, meanwhile, has been pedalling uphill since the beginning of this year. 2017 was easy riding as strong global growth boosted domestic investment, but economic growth has had to move into lower gear in the first half of 2018 as this transmission is no longer working properly, and escalating trade conflicts could derail it. This column presents the European Commission’s Summer 2018 Interim Forecast, which suggests that a tightening of global financial conditions could add to the headwinds, though central banks' balance sheets will remain large for a long time, and domestic fundamentals in the euro area remain strong. 

Loukas Karabarbounis, Brent Neiman, 22 June 2018

Comparing US GDP to the sum of standard measures of payments to labour and imputations of payments to capital results in a large and volatile residual term. Using US data, this column argues that this ‘factorless income’ does not entirely reflect economic profits or unmeasured investment flows. Instead, it likely emerges due to a gap between the cost of capital that firms actually face and the Treasury yields typically used to calculate capital rental rates. These results are important for policy and for understanding historical macroeconomic trends. 

Maxim Pinkovskiy, Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 18 May 2018

Purchasing power parities have been one of the successes of economic measurement. This column asks whether these adjustments are a better measure of the underlying economy than market exchange rates, whether our successive estimates of PPP are improving, and whether we should discard past PPPs when new data become available. Using a regression of night-time lights on PPP-adjusted GDP data, it argues that the answers are yes, yes, and (for now) yes. In fact, current estimates of prices now may be better estimates of past prices than estimates of those past prices made at the time.

Richard Samans, 06 March 2018

Recent political developments in many countries suggest that most of their citizens lack confidence in the assumption of the standard growth model that everyone in a society benefits from GDP growth. This column proposes a multidimensional 'Inclusive Development Index', based on a dashboard of indicators in growth and development, inclusion, and intergenerational equity and sustainability. GDP per capita growth is weakly correlated with performance in many of the new index’s indicators, including those pertaining to employment, income and wealth inequality, and carbon intensity.

Marco Buti, Björn Döhring, José Leandro, 08 February 2018

The outlook for the euro area economy depends to a large extent on whether the impact of the crisis will turn out to be permanent or transitory. This column attempts to chart out the path ahead, starting from what different narratives of the 'atypical recovery' imply about the further trajectory of GDP and inflation. In view of remaining slack, and barring an exogenous shock or policy mistakes, there is scope for solid GDP growth above potential for some time. The factors that should eventually drive an increase in core inflation are gaining force, but only gradually.  The current supportive policy mix is thus appropriate for the euro area as a whole, but reforms that raise productivity and increase the economy's resilience to shocks should be accelerated.

Christian Ebeke, Kodjovi Eklou, 19 January 2018

The economics profession has generally explained large movements in macroeconomic aggregates such as GDP or employment by shocks to other aggregates. This is in part due to the difficulty of translating micro or localised shocks into macro-relevant ‘news’. This column argues that idiosyncratic shocks at the biggest European firms are behind 40% percent of aggregate GDP fluctuations in Europe. These results have implications for the effectiveness of traditional demand-side policies in the fine-tuning of granular economies.

Benjamin Born, Gernot Müller, Moritz Schularick, Petr Sedláček, 01 October 2018

It is hard to calculate the current cost of Brexit, because there is no obvious counterfactual. The original version of this column, first published in November 2017, calculated the cost by letting a matching algorithm determine which combination of comparison economies best resembles the pre-referendum growth path of the UK economy. The results suggested a loss of 1.3% of GDP, or close to £300 million per week, since the vote took place. An update using the latest OECD data suggests that the negative drag from the Brexit vote now appears to be roughly £350 million a week.

Hylke Vandenbussche, William Connell, Wouter Simons, 27 November 2017

Global value networks make it difficult to evaluate the trade impact of Brexit. Using a new model of trade that accounts for the indirect effect of these networks, this column delivers fresh bad news for the UK, and for the rest of Europe. Brexit cuts GDP more, and costs more jobs, if we also consider global value chains. A hard Brexit would destroy four times as much GDP, and four times as many jobs throughout Europe, as a soft Brexit.

Olivier Coibion, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Mauricio Ulate, 24 August 2017

Estimates of potential output around the world have been systematically revised downward since the Great Recession. This column argues that the methods used to create these estimates do not distinguish between transitory and permanent shocks, or demand and supply shocks. Taking these differences into account suggests US output is almost 10 percentage points below potential output. This has important immediate implications for policymakers, and raises questions for those who estimate potential output.

Maarten de Ridder, Coen Teulings, 13 July 2017

Around the world, growth has yet to recover to its pre-Global Crisis trend. This column uses the crisis as a quasi-natural experiment to test the endogenous growth hypothesis, which suggests that output has not recovered because the crisis affected the rate of technological progress. Firms that preferred a bank that was more severely affected by the crisis experienced a large fall in R&D investment and a persistent fall in output in subsequent years. This suggests a direct link between R&D and future productivity, as predicted by endogenous growth models.

Willem Thorbecke, Atsuyuki Kato, 01 July 2017

Since 2007, there have been large changes in the Swiss franc. This column shows that exchange-rate appreciations do not affect the exports, profits, or stock returns of Swiss companies making sophisticated products. In contrast, rises in the franc decrease the exports, profits and stock returns of firms producing medium-high-technology goods. An economy’s production structure is important for weathering exchange-rate fluctuations.

Neil Ericsson, 08 June 2017

Decisions by the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee are based in part on the Greenbook forecasts. These forecasts are produced by the Federal Reserve Board’s staff and are presented to the FOMC prior to their policy meetings, but are not made public for another five years. This column shows that the minutes of those FOMC meetings can help infer the Fed staff's Greenbook forecasts of the US real GDP growth rate, years before the Greenbook's public release. The FOMC minutes are thus highly informative about a key input to monetary policymaking.

Charles R. Hulten, Leonard Nakamura, 02 June 2017

Conventional growth theory characterises innovation as ‘resource-saving’, in the sense that it allows the same output to be produced with fewer resources. This column introduces a sources-of-welfare growth model that also includes a measure of ‘output-saving’ innovation, which arises from the expanded scope and efficiency in consumer choice recently brought about by the Internet economy and smartphones. The findings highlight how various new kinds of intangible capital complicate the measurement of GDP.

Peter Chen, Loukas Karabarbounis, Brent Neiman, 05 April 2017

Corporate saving has increased relative to GDP and corporate investment across the world over the past three decades, reflecting how the global decline in the labour has led to increased corporate profits. This column characterises these trends using national income accounts and firm-level data, and relates them to firm characteristics and the accumulation of financial assets. In response to declines in the components of the cost of capital, a model with capital market imperfections generates an increase in corporate saving similar to that found in the data.

Jonathan Portes, Giuseppe Forte, 05 January 2017

The various projections of the impact of Brexit on the UK economy that were produced during the referendum campaign omitted the economic impact of changes in migration to the UK. This column presents plausible scenarios for future migration flows and estimates of the likely impacts. The potential negative impact of Brexit-induced reductions in openness to migration on the UK economy could well equal that resulting from Brexit-induced reductions in trade.

Kristin Forbes, Dennis Reinhardt, Tomasz Wieladek, 23 December 2016

Globalisation is in retreat, but while the slowdown in trade is widely recognised, what is more striking is the collapse of global capital flows. This column shows how banking deglobalisation is a substantial contributor to the sharp slowdown in global capital flows. It finds that certain types of unconventional monetary policy, and their interactions with regulatory policy, can have important global spillovers. Policies designed to support domestic lending may have had the unintended consequence of amplifying the impact of microprudential capital requirements on external lending.

Leandro de la Escosura, 21 December 2016

A new set of historical national accounts for Spain constructs estimates of output and expenditure from 1850 onwards, which means we can estimate the evolution of GDP per capita and labour productivity during this period. This column argues that the data demonstrates that GDP per capita captures long-run trends in welfare in Spain, but not short and medium run trends.

Antonio Fatás, Lawrence H. Summers, 12 October 2016

Conventional wisdom on supply and demand suggests that demand shocks are cyclical or transitory, and that only technology shocks are responsible for trend changes. This column argues that cyclical events can have permanent effects on demand, and therefore GDP. It is time for policymakers to start considering the possibility of hysteresis seriously.

Brock Smith, Thomas McGregor, Samuel Wills, 28 August 2016

One of the biggest challenges in fighting poverty is to know where it is. This column describes a new way to measure poverty by using satellites to count people who live in darkness at night. This shows that the economic benefits of oil booms don’t trickle down to the very poor.

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