Marco Buti, Nicolas Carnot, Atanas Hristov, Kieran Mc Morrow , Werner Roeger, Valerie Vandermeulen, 23 September 2019

Criticisms have recently been raised on the usefulness of the EU’s commonly agreed methodology for estimating potential output and output gaps. Whilst mindful of the uncertainty which inevitably surrounds an unobservable variable such as potential output, this column argues that much of the criticism is both conceptually and empirically inaccurate, as well as being neglectful of the plausibility of the EU’s potential output estimates compared to other business cycle indicators. In addition, many of the criticisms focus to an excessive degree on the role of potential output in EU fiscal surveillance, with the practice of surveillance being much more flexible and less rigid than many commentators tend to suggest.

Stephanie Bergbauer, Jean-Francois Jamet, Hanni Schölermann, Livio Stracca, Carina Stubenrauch, 20 September 2019

Recent successes of populist movements in Europe might seem to reflect eroded trust in the EU’s institutions. This column asks what global lessons can be drawn from recent research on Euroscepticism at the ECB and elsewhere. It argues that taking citizens’ concerns seriously and addressing salient issues, building on a sense of togetherness, and caring about public trust should inspire a course of action at the global level. Insufficient progress along these dimensions has played a key role not only in Brexit, but also in the backlash against the multilateral world order underpinning globalisation.

Robert J. Gordon, Hassan Sayed, 29 August 2019

Since 2005, productivity growth in the US and Europe has dipped below 1%. Using new industry-level from the US and ten EU countries, this column shows that that the industrial composition of the slowdown was similar in Europe and the US. Falling multifactor productivity growth explains both the magnitude and composition of falling productivity growth on both sides of the Atlantic. Decelerating technical change, rather than slowing investment, was the primary driving force in the transatlantic slowdown. 

Holger Breinlich, Dennis Novy, 16 August 2019

As Brexit nears (again), are British firms choosing to invest in the UK or in other European markets? Are European firms investing in the UK to preserve access to its markets? And has "global Britain" got off the drawing board yet? Holger Breinlich and Dennis Novy lead Tim Phillips through the numbers.

Gianmarco Ottaviano, 03 July 2019

Economic geography strikes back. After a couple of decades of easy talk about the ‘death of distance’ in the age of globalisation, the promise of a world of rising living standards for all is increasingly challenged by the resilience of regional disparities within countries. As long as many people and firms are not geographically mobile – and those who are tend to be the most skilled and productive – easier distant interactions can actually strengthen rather than weaken agglomeration economies. Recent electoral trends in Europe can be understood to a surprisingly large extent from this angle. 

Sébastien Jean, Anne Perrot, Thomas Philippon, 18 June 2019

Some policymakers believe that EU competition policy prevents the emergence of industrial champions. The column argues that Europe’s competition policy has successfully contained the rise in concentration and excess profits, and the EU should not follow the US in weakening its approach. Instead, the EU needs to strengthen its trade policy to be more assertive on reciprocity in market access and control of industrial subsidies. 

Pascal Lamy, 14 June 2019

Bernt Bratsberg, Andreas Moxnes, Oddbjørn Raaum, Karen Helene Ulltveit-Moe, 09 May 2019

In the aftermath of the eastern enlargement of the EU, Norway experienced one of the largest immigration shocks of the 21st century. This column uses data from the episode to examine the general equilibrium response of wages, labour costs, and industry employment to such shocks. One finding is that although real wages in some occupations decline, the aggregate welfare effects on natives are close to zero as natives switch to higher-wage occupations. The welfare effect on the existing population of immigrants, on the other hand, is negative as they have a comparative advantage in low-wage occupations.

Matěj Bělín, Jan Hanousek, 29 April 2019

The annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation in 2014 led to sanctions by the US and the EU, among others, and counter-sanctions by Russia. This column estimates that the value of trade lost due to Western sanctions over 2014-2016 amounts to $1.3 billion, while trade lost due to the Russian counter-sanctions amounts to $10.5 billion. There appears to be no evidence that Russian importers switched between suppliers from sanctioning countries to competitors from non-sanctioning countries.

Thomas Blanchet, Lucas Chancel, Amory Gethin, 22 April 2019

Despite the growing importance of inequalities in policy debates, it is still difficult to compare inequality levels across European countries and to tell how European growth has been shared across income groups. This column draws on new evidence combining surveys, tax data, and national accounts to document a rise in income inequality in most European countries between 1980 and 2017. It finds that income disparities on the old continent have increased less than in the US and shows that this is essentially due to ‘predistribution’ policies.

Bruno Merlevede, Victoria Purice, 29 March 2019

Supplying inputs to multinational firms has been shown to increase the productivity of domestic firms, while borders have been shown to substantially reduce trade activities. This column investigates whether spillover effects from multinationals on local firms occur when firms are separated by a national border. Using data for seven Central and Eastern European countries and their neighbours, it finds that cross-border spillovers only occur after EU integration, and that participation in the Schengen Area magnifies these effects. The results bear testimony to successful EU integration and warn about potential productivity costs to local firms should border controls be reinstated.

Natasha Kalara, Lu Zhang, Karen van der Wiel, 09 March 2019

The Global Crisis has profoundly changed the financial landscape, including firm financing. This column examines the development of various channels of firm financing before and after the crisis among four groups of EU countries, the US, and Japan. While bank finance and, to some extent, equity finance are under pressure, alternative finance, although small, seems to be on the rise.

István Székely, Melanie Ward-Warmedinger, 23 February 2019

While there is a large literature on the political economy of reforms, surprisingly little is known about reform reversal. Based on an investigation of reform reversals in former transition countries, this column argues that once reforms are introduced, self-enforcing social norms and social learning should catch up with the new reality to create domestic anchors. Social norms have not always been strong enough to outweigh the opportunistic behaviour of politicians seeking short-term windfall gains. External anchors, while helping to protect reforms, cannot replace domestic ones.  

Philipp-Bastian Brutscher, Pauline Ravillard, 14 February 2019

Promoting investment in energy efficiency has become increasingly important over the past decade, but not much is known about effective ways to promote firm-level investments in energy efficiency. Using new experimental data on EU firms’ stated willingness to invest in hypothetical energy-efficiency projects with varying offers of financing and technical assistance, this column demonstrates how a favourable financing offer can increase the likelihood that firms are willing to invest in energy efficiency by as much as 33%. 

Holger Breinlich, Elsa Leromain, Dennis Novy, Thomas Sampson, 12 February 2019

Media reports suggest that some UK firms have started to move production abroad in anticipation of Brexit. Using data on announcements of new foreign investment transactions, this column reports evidence that the Brexit vote has led to a 12% increase in the number of new investments made by UK firms in EU27 countries. At the same time, new investments in the UK from the EU27 have declined by 11%. The results are consistent with the idea that UK firms are offshoring production to the EU27 because they expect Brexit to increase barriers to trade and migration, making the UK a less attractive place to invest and create jobs. 

Debora Revoltella, 22 January 2019

Europe is at risk of falling behind its global competitors. In a period of radical technological transformation, European firms are investing too little, with a gap both in tangible and intangible investment compared to the US. This column calls for a ‘retooling’ of Europe’s economy in relation to skills, innovation finance, the business environment, infrastructure, and deepening the Single Market.

Jasper De Jong, Niels Gilbert, 15 January 2019

The Stability and Growth Pact has been criticised by some for imposing fiscal tightening during recessions, and by others for a lack of compliance. Using a database of all country-specific Excessive Deficit Procedure recommendations since the introduction of the euro, this column shows that the corrective arm of the pact, which is procyclical by design, is an important driver of euro area fiscal policy. The preventive arm, which is designed to avoid the need for such procyclical policies, is much less effective and reform of the pact should focus on addressing this.

David Comerford, Sevi Rodriguez Mora, 04 January 2019

Populists in Europe are contesting the perceived benefits of economic integration between countries. This column uses data on trade frictions to estimate the long-run impact of trade frictions on GDP if countries in Europe were to be more or less integrated. Negative between-country impacts, such as from Brexit or an EU collapse, imply a GDP reduction of between 1-3%. The potential trade benefits of a 'United States of Europe', on the other hand, may be an order of magnitude greater for its members.

Jacques Bughin, Christopher Pissarides, 02 January 2019

Europe’s social contracts to protect their citizens from socioeconomic risks are based on an inclusive growth model characterised by a more egalitarian view of revenue generation and distribution. But this model is under strain, with various global trends placing upward pressure on inequality that could intensify. This column suggests that keeping the essence of Europe’s current inclusive growth model does not preclude it from adapting its current social contracts to protect its citizens, whatever the disruptions that lie ahead.



CEPR Policy Research