Demosthenes Ioannou, Maria Sole Pagliari, Livio Stracca, 18 September 2020

The debate over the incomplete and fragile nature of Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union has been revived by the Covid-19 pandemic. This column shows that adverse shocks within EMU can be identified and are transmitted to the rest of the world, with implications for economic activity and trade in advanced and emerging economies. Despite the important steps taken during the pandemic by euro area authorities, the drive to complete EMU with a genuine fiscal and financial union needs to continue for the sake of both the euro area and the rest of the world.

Lorenzo Codogno, Giancarlo Corsetti, 18 September 2020

The EU Recovery Plan agreed upon in July 2020 supports investment activity through grants and loans to member states at close-to-zero interest rates. This column suggests that its implementation could give a substantial boost to the economy and fiscal revenues under very conservative assumptions on multipliers. In addition, as the ECB is keeping interest rates and government bond yields low, also through its asset purchase programmes, if it refrains from reacting forcefully to potential upward pressures on prices caused by the massive fiscal stimulus, even a gradual and delayed ‘normalisation’ of interest rates would not undermine debt sustainability. 

Alistair Dieppe, 18 September 2020

Since the 2008 global financial crisis, improvements in many key correlates of productivity growth have slowed or gone into reverse, and labour reallocation to more productive sectors from less productive ones has also weakened. Furthermore, the pace of convergence of emerging market and developing economies to advanced-economy productivity levels has slowed. This column argues that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to compound the slowdown, with profound implications for development outcomes. A comprehensive broad-based approach is necessary to rekindle productivity.

Andreas Fuchs, Lennart Kaplan, Krisztina Kis-Katos, Sebastian S. Schmidt, Felix Turbanisch, Feicheng Wang, 16 September 2020

China assumed an important role during the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 as the main exporter of critical medical goods such as face masks and disinfectants. However, shipments of medical goods have been turned into propaganda campaigns by Chinese state media, raising the question if access to medical goods is granted upon political goodwill. This column uses official monthly trade data from Chinese Customs to investigate the emerging trade patterns, both for commercial exports and donations of medical goods. It shows that both existing trade linkages and political ties to Chinese provinces can help to attract Chinese medical goods.

Natalia Fabra, Massimo Motta, Martin Peitz, 16 September 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the importance of preparing for pandemics and other catastrophic events that require the quick availability of some essential goods and services. Relying only on private incentives and market forces would be insufficient. Instead, governments and preferably supranational institutions should design and implement prevention, detection and mitigation measures. This requires putting in place competitive mechanisms to accumulate essential goods, establishing rationing protocols, and facilitating the ramping up of production when the crisis hits. In particular, public institutions should secure the provision of essential goods in sufficient quantity and quality at a reasonable cost. A new CEPR Policy Insight argues that the economics of electricity capacity markets provides important lessons for such a provision.

Jérôme Adda, Christian Decker, Marco Ottaviani, 16 September 2020

There is much riding on the clinical trials currently in search of a COVID-19 vaccine. But for a vaccine to do more good than harm, researchers must remain free from conflicts of interest that could undermine their integrity. This column analyses trial results reported to the registry. It finds reassuring evidence for the reliability of ongoing clinical research, but also identifies subtle patterns that regulators should monitor with care, paying particular attention to enforcing the transparency of trials sponsored by smaller companies.

Abigail Adams-Prassl, 15 September 2020

Abigail Adams-Prassl (University of Oxford) talks to Tim Phillips about recent research on the UK's furloughed workers, including who exactly has been furloughed, what effect this had on whether they actually continued to work or not and what the likely prospects are for their employment going forward. 

This is an audio-only version of Vox video interview The UK's furloughed workers: Who, why, what next?

Khalid ElFayoumi, Martina Hengge, 14 September 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated policy responses triggered a historically large wave of capital reallocation between markets, asset classes, and industries. This column uses high-frequency data to show that capital market dynamics were not exclusively driven by undiscriminating global factors. Instead, the degree of the spread of the virus, the stringency of the lockdown, and the fiscal policy response played key roles in explaining the wide heterogeneity in international portfolio flows across countries, particularly for emerging markets.

Giovanni Immordino, Maria Berlin, Francesco Flaviano Russo, Giancarlo Spagnolo, 13 September 2020

Domestic violence appears to have surged during the Covid-19 crisis in almost all countries. This column argues that dwindling prostitution markets during the lockdown might be partly responsible for the surge. Analysing the effects of the one-sided criminalisation of prostitution introduced in Sweden in 1999, it finds that the law reduced street prostitution but increased domestic violence against women outside the prostitution market. This evidence suggests that the freeze of sex markets caused by the Covid-19 crisis might have contributed to the observed spike in domestic violence. 

Steffen Juranek, Jörg Paetzold, Hannes Winner, Floris Zoutman, 12 September 2020

Sweden attracted international attention for not imposing a strict lockdown after the outbreak of COVID-19. This column analyses the labour market effects of this strategy by comparing unemployment and furlough spells in Sweden to three of its Nordic neighbours. The evidence suggests that the labour markets of all countries were severely hit by the pandemic, but Sweden performed slightly better than its neighbours. 

Graziella Bertocchi, 09 September 2020

Graziella Bertocchi (University of Modena & EIEF) uses a detailed individual-level dataset from Cook County, Illinois, to explore the relationship between COVID-19 mortality and race. Not only are Black Americans disproportionally affected by COVID-19, but they also started to succumb to it earlier than other groups. Such asymmetric effects can be traced back to racial segregation introduced by discriminatory lending practices in the 1930s.

Christopher Adam, Mark Henstridge, Stevan Lee, 08 September 2020

The small open economies of sub-Saharan Africa are substantially constrained in their ability to respond to the COVID-19 shock through fiscal adjustment. The scale of contraction in external demand, combined with limited fiscal space, means that without substantial external support, feasible policy packages in many of these countries translate to austerity programmes. This column uses a dynamic general equilibrium model calibrated to data from Uganda to characterise the macroeconomics of the pandemic and its aftermath in sub-Saharan Africa. It finds that the recovery depends significantly on how the public finances are restored to sustainability, and may be accelerated with external support.

Olivier Coibion, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Michael Weber, 08 September 2020

A major component of the 27 March CARES Act in the US was a one-time transfer to all qualifying adults of up to $1200, with $500 per additional child. Using a large-scale survey of US consumers, this column studies how these large transfers affected individuals' consumption, saving and labour supply decisions. Most respondents report that they primarily saved or paid down debts with their transfers, with only about 15% reporting that they mostly spent it. On average, individuals report having spent or planning to spend only around 40% of the total transfer. The payments appear to have had no meaningful effect on labour-supply decisions from these transfer payments, except for 20% of the unemployed who report that the stimulus payment made them search harder for a job.

Richard Button, Marek Rojicek, Matt Waldron, Danny Walker, 07 September 2020

The spread of Covid-19 and the measures taken to contain it have led to a sharp fall in economic activity, which has put pressure on many companies’ cash flows.  This column estimates a cash flow deficit summing to £135 billion for the 2020-21 financial year for mid-size and large UK companies. Supported by public policy, UK companies have already raised a large amount of external finance, providing them with liquidity to help bridge some of the disruption.  But additional liquidity will be required and equity finance will likely be important during the recovery phase.

Nicholas W. Papageorge, Matthew Zahn, Michèle Belot, Eline van den Broek-Altenburg, Syngjoo Choi, Julian C. Jamison, Egon Tripodi, 05 September 2020

Individual behaviours affect the spread of infectious disease. This column examines factors that predict individual behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic in the US using novel survey data. People with lower income and less flexible work arrangements are less likely to engage in behaviours that limit the spread of disease. The burden of measures to stem the pandemic is unevenly distributed across socio-demographic groups in ways that affect behaviour and potentially the spread of illness. Policies that assume otherwise are unlikely to be effective or sustainable.

Eric Lonergan, Megan Greene, 03 September 2020

The low interest rate environment since the Global Financial Crisis has led economists and analysts to suggest that major central banks have run out of monetary policy tools with which to face major downturns, including the Covid-19 crisis. This column argues that a dual interest rate approach could help to eliminate the effective lower bound and given central banks infinite fire power. By employing dual interest rates, central banks can go beyond targeting short-term interest rates and providing emergency liquidity to provide a stimulus across the economy. As political support for fiscal stimulus in the face of the Covid-19 crisis wanes, central banks can and should step in with overwhelming force.

Abigail Adams-Prassl, Teodora Boneva, Marta Golin, Christopher Rauh, 02 September 2020

Working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic has provided shelter from both the health risks and the economic shock brought about by the pandemic. This column uses survey data from the US and the UK to demonstrate systematic variation in individuals’ ability to work from home both across and within occupations and industries. In addition, men and workers with a college degree can do a substantially higher share of their tasks from home, while workers on low incomes report being able to do a smaller share. This polarisation has increased over the course of the pandemic, as workers who were already able to carry out a large share of tasks remotely have become able to do even more from home.

Michele Valsecchi, Ruben Durante, 02 September 2020

Many internal migrants returned to their place of origin after the initial outbreaks of COVID-19 and before national lockdowns were in place. Has this behaviour contributed to the further spread of the pandemic and to its heavy death toll? Looking at the case of Italy and using data on the place of origin and destination of internal migrants, this column finds that provinces more exposed to return migration from areas hit by the pandemic earlier on experienced considerably more COVID-19 deaths in the ensuing months.

Abigail Adams-Prassl, 01 September 2020

Abigail Adams-Prassl (University of Oxford) talks to Tim Phillips about recent research on the UK's furloughed workers, including who exactly has been furloughed, what effect this had on whether they actually continued to work or not and what the likely prospects are for their employment going forward.

Philippe Aghion, Sofia Amaral-Garcia, Mathias Dewatripont, Michel Goldman, 01 September 2020

While EU countries have been able to rely on a more resilient social model and a science-based approach in managing the Covid crisis more successfully so far than the US, Europe has fallen short in matching the US effort to incentivise Covid vaccine innovation. This is due to a lower level of financial investment and also an inability to ensure coordination across different (national and European) funding schemes. This column calls for the creation of a European equivalent to the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to tackle these problems, thereby strengthening European industries' leadership in vaccine research and innovation.



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