Alina Kristin Bartscher, Sebastian Seitz, Sebastian Siegloch, Michaela Slotwinski, Nils Wehrhöfer, 18 June 2020

In the absence of viable medical responses to combat the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, policymakers have appealed to the social responsibility of their citizens to comply with social distancing rules. This column explores how regional differences in social capital can affect the spread of Covid-19, focusing on seven European countries. The results suggest that areas with high social capital registered between 12% and 32% fewer Covid-19 cases from mid-March until mid-May. A case study of Italy validates the independent role of social capital, showing a consistent reduction in excess deaths and documenting a reduction in mobility prior to the lockdown as a mediating channel.

Juan C. Palomino, Juan Gabriel Rodríguez, Raquel Sebastian, 16 June 2020

Enforced social distancing and lockdown measures to contain COVID-19 restrict economic activity, especially among workers in non-essential jobs who cannot ‘telework’. These have implications for inequality and poverty. This column analyses the capacity of individuals in 29 European countries to work under lockdown and the potential impact of a two-month lockdown on wages and inequality levels. There will be substantial and uneven wage losses across the board and poverty will rise. Inequality within countries will worsen, as it will between countries although to a lesser extent.

Thomas Plümper, Eric Neumayer, 11 June 2020

Is Covid-19 a ‘rich man’s disease’, as many citizens in poorer countries believe it to be? This column descibes how in Germany, infections began with individuals returning from skiing holidays. In the first phase of the pandemic, infection rates were higher in richer areas and lower in more socially deprived districts. In the second phase, the ability to socially distance oneself mattered more – an ability that is itself socioeconomically stratified. Richer districts are now seeing fewer new infections, and the initial safety advantage of more socially deprived districts has disappeared.

Francesco Fasani, Tommaso Frattini, Luigi Minale, 09 June 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light how much societies rely on migrants for key labour while highlighting the vulnerabilities of already weaker groups. Easing the socio-economic integration of migrants is beneficial to both migrants and host countries; yet, many European countries ban asylum seekers from legal employment upon arrival. This column examines the effect of such employment bans. The bans have large and lasting negative effects on refugees’ future labour-market integration and constitute an economic loss for the host country. Allowing early labour market access is an easily implementable and financially costless policy that effectively accelerates refugee integration.

,

US economists on the economic impact of the crisis and policy developments in the US and Europe.

with:
* Adam S. Posen, The Peterson Institute for International Economics
* Vivien A. Schmidt, Boston University
* Jeffry Frieden, Harvard University
* Michael Landesmann, Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw)

The following questions will be addressed:
* How does the unfolding Covid-19 crisis compare so far between the US and Europe?
* How does the EMU/EU governance structure constrain monetary and fiscal responses compared to the US?
* Which failures in policy can be/could have been avoided?
* Which social and political outcomes do you expect on both sides of the Atlantic?
* How will the US and European responses affect global economic and political relations?

Giancarlo Corsetti, Aitor Erce, Antonio Garcia Pascual, 14 May 2020

Prominent voices propose financing the European Recovery Fund using joint perpetual debt. This column argues that there are gains from using European borrowing and lending as two separate policy levers. In a world of ultra-accommodative monetary policy, financing the Fund issuing debt at shorter maturities and passing those low interest rates onto member states through loans with low margin and with very long maturities is financially cheaper. Supporting the recovery through this maturity transformation would reinforce debt sustainability across the EU.

Sophia Chen, Deniz Igan, Nicola Pierri, Andrea Presbitero, 11 May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns have led to unprecedented economic costs around the world. Using high-frequency indicators, this column shows that while COVID-19 is a global shock, European countries and US states with larger outbreaks have suffered significantly larger economic losses. The impact of COVID-19 is mostly captured by changes in people’s observed mobility whereas, so far, there is no robust evidence supporting additional impact from the adoption of non-pharmaceutical interventions, especially in the US. The results indicate a crucial role for communication and trust-building.

Sergio Torrejón Pérez, Marta Fana, Ignacio González-Vázquez, Enrique Fernández-Macías, 09 May 2020

The COVID-19 economic crisis is having a huge impact on employment in the EU, calling for swift policy action targeting the most affected sectors and countries. This column makes an assessment of the labour market impact of the confinement measures put in place by EU governments. It finds that these restrictions are likely to have a very asymmetric effect across EU labour markets, with the most negative employment impact concentrating in the most vulnerable countries and categories of workers.

Francesco Fasani, 05 May 2020

‘Key workers’ are performing these crucial tasks on the front line of Europe's COVID-19 response. This column describes how migrant workers are playing a critical role in performing basic functions in EU societies hit by the COVID-19 epidemic. In addition, low-educated migrants, not just high-skilled ones, are employed in occupations that are key for their host societies, which suggests the need to reconsider, once the crisis has passed, a migration policy debate which is currently almost entirely focused on the importance of attracting high-skilled migrants to the EU.

Almut Balleer, Britta Gehrke, Brigitte Hochmuth, Christian Merkl, 01 May 2020

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the EU has implemented the SURE programme which provides loans up to €100 billion to member states for the support of short-time work systems. In order to obtain the maximum unemployment stabilisation with these funds, this column argues that the SURE loans should be used to support rule-based short-time work systems that require workers’ consent and that are aligned with national short-term unemployment benefit systems. During the COVID-19 crisis, additions to these rules may be appropriate.

Stephen P. Ferris, Jan Hanousek, Jiri Tresl, 30 April 2020

Corporation corruption is an issue that remains at the forefront of regulatory policy. This column examines the persistence of corruption among a sample of privately held firms from 12 Central and Eastern European countries. Creating a proxy for corporate corruption based on a firm’s internal inefficiency, it is suggested that corruption can enhance a firm’s overall profitability. A channel analysis reveals that inflating staff costs is the most common approach by which firms divert funds to finance corruption. Corruption may persist simply because of its ability to improve a firm’s return on assets.

Massimo Motta, Martin Peitz, 30 April 2020

The European Commission has been asked to develop a proposal for a new recovery fund of more than €1 trillion. Given the substantial support needed by most sectors in the present circumstances, it is crucial to identify the ones which are most important to proper functioning of the EU economies. Based on the principle of subsidiarity, this column formulates two general criteria to identify these sectors: those for which (i) the volume of cross-border trade within the EU is large, or (ii) externalities across member states are important. Support schemes should be oriented towards the future and not try to preserve the status quo ante.

Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, Ramon Marimon, Philippe Martin, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Lucrezia Reichlin, Dirk Schoenmaker, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 20 April 2020

The EU has been slow to formulate its response to the Covid crisis. Fortunately, things have started to change. The EU’s leaders should finish work on the new borrowing facilities, first by clarifying the maturities of the borrowings, and second by being prepared to beef up their amounts if needed. It is also crucial to find ways to jointly finance priority action and to provide support to countries worst affected by the crisis in order to restart their own economies. The objective of a Recovery Initiative should be to repair and reconstruct the EU economy: to repair corporate balance sheets and value chains; and to reconstruct the economy on a new, sustainable basis through investment in common public goods such as research, resilience, and the greening of the economy. This will involve targeted investment, coordinated restructuring in some sectors, and the introduction of an equity fund to help SMEs survive the crisis. 

Stephanie Ettmeier, Chi Hyun Kim, Alexander Kriwoluzky, 09 April 2020

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Europe is severe and spreads economic uncertainty. This column explores the evolution of financial market participants’ expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic, estimating yield curves of bonds in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The authors carry out an event study to investigate the potential impact of European fiscal and monetary policy measures on these yields. The results suggest that policy measures must be large and coordinated on the European level, and that fiscal and monetary policy must act jointly to fight the pandemic’s negative economic consequences

Daniel Gros, 05 April 2020

The countries hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis already have too much debt. Lending from the European Stability Mechanism or via Coronabonds would add to that debt, potentially making it unsustainable. This column suggests that European solidarity should take the form of transfers, not credit. A substantial transfer could be organised via the EU budget simply by exempting the weakest countries from their contributions to the EU budget for the duration of the programming period 2012-2027.

Joan Costa-Font, 02 April 2020

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has varied widely across the EU, member states following their own self-interests and limited coordination. This column argues that an independent public health agency could help overcome problems of collective action. 

Giulia Giupponi, Camille Landais, 01 April 2020

Short-time work is a subsidy for temporary reductions in the number of hours worked in firms affected by temporary shocks. Evidence suggests that it can have large positive effects on employment and can be more effective than unemployment insurance or universal transfers. This column discusses how the COVID-19 crisis – with its mandated reduction in hours of work and massive liquidity crunch for firms – is a textbook case for the use of short-time work. Taking into account available evidence and the current situation, it proposes guidelines to effectively implement short-term work.

Martin Hodula, 16 March 2020

The shadow banking system has become an important source of funding worldwide for the real economy over the last two decades. Europe is no exception, though research on shadow banking there has been relative scarce. This column shows that European shadow banking is highly procyclical, intertwined with insurance corporations and pension funds, and a terminal station for regulatory arbitrage. It also discusses the existence of two main motives that explain the growth of shadow banking, both prior and post-Global Crisis: a funding-cost motive and a search-for-yield motive. 

Johannes Bollen, 13 March 2020

While the energy transition to decarbonise the EU’s economy fully by 2050 will be felt economically in all member states, the costs of decarbonising can be substantially lowered through maximising the production of hydrogen, which in turn can be used to generate electricity. This column uses a global climate-energy economic model to compare three energy production scenarios. It finds that wind energy plus gasification of biomass, natural gas, or coal with carbon capture storage can reduce the cost of achieving Europe’s 95% emissions-reduction goal by 40%. 

Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, Ramon Marimon, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Lucrezia Reichlin, Dirk Schoenmaker, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 11 March 2020

The unfolding coronavirus epidemic represents a severe economic stress test for Europe as well as a test of European unity. This column discusses how the crisis might unfold and the appropriate policy response. It advocates a comprehensive emergency package through which the EU would take responsibility for a meaningful share of the overall emergency effort.

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