Romesh Vaitilingam, 22 May 2021

There is much debate about whether the patents on Covid-19 vaccines should be waived to allow low-income countries to produce doses for themselves. The IGM Forum at Chicago Booth invited its panels of leading European and US economists to express their views on this issue and the broader challenges of vaccinating the world. As this column reports, a strong majority (87% of the panellists) agrees that rather than waiving intellectual property protection, the rich countries should pay the pharmaceutical companies to manufacture and distribute the vaccines (or to license production and support licensees). A similarly strong majority (89%) considers that the benefits to the rich countries of paying for 12 billion doses and providing them to the rest of the world exceed the costs.

Romesh Vaitilingam, 06 January 2021

The US Federal Trade Commission and 46 states have brought antitrust cases against Facebook, which could potentially require the company to unwind its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. The IGM Forum at Chicago Booth invited its panels of leading US and European economists to express their views on whether requiring the company to make these divestments is likely to make society better off. As this column reports, a considerably larger proportion of experts on the European panel agree or strongly agree with the statement than the US panel (78% compared with 59%); nearly a quarter of US experts are uncertain; and just over a sixth of US experts disagree.

Romesh Vaitilingam, 30 November 2020

In October 2020, the US Department of Justice launched a federal antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing the firm of abusing its dominance in the market for internet search. The IGM Forum at Chicago Booth invited its panels of leading US and European economists to express their views on the nature of the market dominance of Google and other technology giants in the digital economy, and what the appropriate policy response might be. As this column reports, among other results, when asked whether the imposition of some kind of regulation or a fundamental change in antitrust policy is warranted, a larger proportion of experts on the European panel agreed than of those on the US panel.

Romesh Vaitilingam, 14 March 2020

As tumbling stock markets indicated growing fears about the potential economic impact of the coronavirus, the IGM Forum at Chicago Booth invited its panels of leading economists in the US and Europe to express their views on the likelihood of a major recession. This column reveals a broad consensus across the experts that there will be a sharp downturn in the economy, but less agreement on how prolonged the dip is likely to be. Asked about the relative importance of supply and demand shocks damaging the economy, reactions were more mixed. But over two-thirds of the European economists are highly doubtful of the readiness of the economic policy institutions of the euro area to respond effectively to the potential damage from COVID-19.

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