Swati Dhingra, Rebecca Freeman, Hanwei Huang, 21 January 2021

Deep trade agreements are widespread and have taken the world beyond tariff liberalisation in goods trade. As the importance of global supply chains and the services sector increased across the world, shallow tariff reductions gave way to deeper commitments that address non-tariff barriers and behind the border barriers to trade. By matching dissagregated trade data to the universe of deep trade agreements, this column examines their impact on trade in goods and services, and quantifies their welfare impacts. Welfare gains from the commitments involved in such agreements have played a crucial role in overall welfare gains since the conclusion of the Uruguay Round. 

Adnan Seric, Holger Görg, Wan-Hsin Liu, Michael Windisch, 07 January 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of the global trade network underpinning global value chains. Initial disruptions in the supply chains for key medical goods due to surges in demand and newly erected trade barriers have prompted policymakers around the world to question their country’s reliance on foreign suppliers and international production networks. This column takes a closer look at China’s post-pandemic recovery and argues that its response may hold clues to the future of global value chains.

Mattia Di Ubaldo, Steven McGuire, Vikrant Shirodkar, 03 January 2021

The adoption of environmentally friendly production methods matters to both firms and policymakers, as both are concerned with reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants. This column studies the effect on emissions of environmental protection provisions in EU free trade agreements, as well as that of private ISO-14001 environmental certifications. Environmental protection provisions in EU trade agreements are associated with lower levels of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, while ISO-14001 certifications are associated with lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions. For carbon dioxide, ISO-14001 certifications matter only for members of trade agreements with environmental protection provisions, suggesting the existence of complementarities between private and public environmental regulation.

Tomáš Konečný, Lukáš Pfeifer, 19 November 2020

The financial sector has an essential role to play in addressing the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. This column discusses the link between financial stability and restrictions on the mobility of capital along national borders of cross-border banking groups in the context of macroprudential capital buffers. It argues that apart from the direct absorption of systemic shocks, such macroprudential policies also enhance the performance of existing risk-sharing mechanisms, in particular in the case of synchronous shocks in the EU. The ESRB recommendation for restrictions of distributions during the pandemic contributes to the stabilising role of macroprudential capital buffers in the EU.

Gordon Betcherman, Mauro Testaverde, 18 November 2020

The Covid-19 crisis has profoundly affected employment everywhere, but countries have adopted different strategies to try to mitigate the worst of the effects. This column compares the Greek experience to the rest of Europe, as well as to North America. The authors conclude that given the nature of the pandemic, models for managing labour market shocks will need to offer extended support where the shock persists or reoccurs. Crucially, successful policy approaches will need to be well suited for enabling job creation once conditions are in place for a restart.

Isabela Manelici, Smaranda Pantea, 08 November 2020

Industrial policies can be an effective tool for governments to shape the development of different sectors to achieve productivity growth. But there is little evidence of their effectiveness or efficiency. This column examines the impact of an income tax break for IT workers in Romania. The findings suggest that targeted policies of this kind can boost key sectors. This finding is encouraging in terms of the ability of governments to design and implement effective industrial policies. 

Helios Herrera, Max Konradt, Guillermo Ordoñez, Christoph Trebesch, 06 November 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has had major political consequences. The balancing act of curbing the spread of the virus and re-opening the economy has been a particularly high-profile challenge for policymakers in recent months. This column explore the political costs of (mis-)managing the pandemic. The findings suggest that governments are punished in terms of political approval when Covid-19 infections accelerate, particularly in the absence of effective lockdown measures. Economic indicators, in contrast, do not appear to be strong predictor of political approval rates during this crisis. 

Niels Thygesen, Roel Beetsma, Massimo Bordignon, Xavier Debrun, Mateusz Szczurek, Martin Larch, Matthias Busse, Mateja Gabrijelcic, Eloïse Orseau, Stefano Santacroce, 26 October 2020

This year’s annual report of the European Fiscal Board provides new evidence that the EU fiscal framework does not deliver the goods. This column argues that it should be reformed without delay. As forging consensus among EU member states takes time, the activation of the general escape clause until end-2021 offers a window of opportunity to build a simpler, leaner and more effective fiscal contract. The year 2019 illustrated once again how EU member states largely failed to build buffers in good times, those very buffers that would have been welcome in the face of the Covid-19 shock. In 2019, and despite sustained economic growth, the aggregate EU government deficit has increased for the first time since 2011 while cases of non-compliance with the preventive arm of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP). Like other common shocks before, the pandemic has exposed three long-standing gaps in EMU’s architecture: (1) the lack of a genuine and permanent central fiscal capacity; (2) adverse incentives to maintain or scale up growth-enhancing government expenditure; (3) an intractable set of rules and benchmarks poorly tailored to country-specific debt reduction needs and capacities.

Angela Capolongo, Barry Eichengreen, Daniel Gros, 23 October 2020

Seeking to internationalise the euro is now an official policy of EU institutions.  But a constraint on wider use of the euro, by central bank reserve managers in particular, is the shortage of safe euro assets – a problem that is being made worse by the ECB’s asset purchase program. This column proposes a solution to this problem: issuance by the ECB of its own certificates of deposit.

Tommaso Bighelli, Filippo di Mauro, Marc Melitz, Matthias Mertens, 13 October 2020

Aggregate firm concentration has increased in Europe in the last decade. Using firm-level data, this column shows that concentration is positively associated with productivity at the sector level. As a result, rising concentration should not be viewed as conclusive evidence of a weak competitive environment and need not necessarily be a cause for concern. Rather, rising concentration may be a reflection of more efficient market processes. This has important consequences for industrial and antitrust policy, which must carefully evaluate the costs and benefits of increasing concentration.

Emine Boz, Camila Casas, Georgios Georgiadis, Gita Gopinath, Helena Le Mezo , Arnaud Mehl, Tra Nguyen, 09 October 2020

Most global trade transactions are invoiced in just a few currencies, regardless of the countries involved in the transaction. This column presents a new dataset that offers a comprehensive and up-to-date understanding of trade invoicing patterns within the major currencies. It finds that vehicle currency use has been on the rise, with dollar invoicing increasing over time despite the decline in the share of global trade accounted for by the US, and euro invoicing also rising among certain countries (typically at the expense of the dollar). 

Peter Holmes, Julia Magntorn Garrett, Jim Rollo, 15 October 2020

The global economy appears to be shifting from a rules-based to a power-based trading system. This column argues that a high degree of coherence in the values projected by its member states can help the EU harness its soft power to promote its policy objectives externally. Using a similarity index to explore the coherence of trade-related aid objectives between the institutions of the EU and four key member states, it finds what the authors call a ‘positive complementarity’, whereby EU institutions and the member states currently promote similar but not identical aims.

Gerdien Meijerink, Bram Hendriks, Peter A.G. van Bergeijk, 02 October 2020

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic led to a 14% dive in world trade by April 2020. Using the CPB’s World Trade Monitor and a Bayesian VAR model, this column compares the recent contraction, and partial recovery, to the 2008/2009 Global Crisis and the Great Depression. The current trade recession appears to have a sharper ‘V-shape’, with a stronger collapse but a quicker recovery than the previous crises.

Christian Peukert, Stefan Bechtold, Michail Batikas, Tobias Kretschmer, 30 September 2020

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation came into effect in 2018 to tackle issues of privacy and personal data. Looking at over 110,700 websites before and after the introduction of the regulation, this column examines its effect on non-EU-based websites and on other policy domains, such as competition or trade policy. Both EU-based and non-EU-based websites switched to more privacy-sensitive technologies following GDPR, but only in the short term. The market for web tracking technologies became more concentrated, with Google gaining the most market share among large providers. Privacy regulations can function as nonpecuniary barriers to trade, especially if enacted by a large economic area.

Martin Larch, Stefano Santacroce, 24 September 2020

The urgent need to respond to the unprecedented economic shock resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic has relegated the review of EU fiscal rules to the background. However, the question of whether and how to review the Stability and Growth Pact will soon re-emerge as a key topic in the policy debate, not least in light of the very sharp increase in government debt levels. This column presents a new database from the Secretariat of the European Fiscal Board that tracks numerical compliance with the SGP. It offers valuable insights into which rules worked or not for which group of countries and under what circumstances. The database is available to the research community and can inform any future attempt to improve the current fiscal framework of the EU.

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. 

Volker Nocke, Michael D. Whinston, 26 August 2020

Concentration measures such as the post-merger Herfindahl-Hirschman index as well as the merger-induced change in the index are usually key determinants in the review of horizontal mergers by competition agencies and courts. This column studies whether the magnitude of the efficiencies required for a merger not to hurt consumers may be related to the change and the level of the Herfindahl-Hirschman index. On the basis of theoretical analysis substantiated by empirical evidence, it finds that while the critical level of efficiencies depends on the change in the index, it is independent of level of the index. Hence current guidelines should be changed so as to emphasise the change more and the level less.

Sebastian Blesse, Massimo Bordignon, Pierre C Boyer, Piergiorgio Carapella, Friedrich Heinemann, Eckhard Janeba, Anasuya Raj, 18 August 2020

The ongoing Covid-19 crisis has the potential to change the institutional design of the European Union (EU). This column analyses survey data asking parliamentarians from France, Italy, and Germany about their stances on a broad range of reform issues covering fiscal and monetary policies as well as EU governance mechanisms. It finds that in general, party membership is quantitatively more important than nationality in determining political stances. Further, while national parliaments still differ on many policies, a broader consensus emerges for reforms on EU institutions such as providing the EU parliament with the right of proposing new legislation.

Giancarlo Corsetti, Joao B. Duarte, Samuel Mann, 07 August 2020

A persistent challenge for the ECB has been meeting the various needs and demands of euro area member states. This column provides empirical and quantitative evidence suggesting that the transmission of the ECB’s monetary policy varies significantly across member states. For variables such as those related to housing and labour markets, the dispersion of responses to a monetary shock is twice as large as the average response. The results also suggest that the disruption to market integration brought about by the COVID-19 crisis may create further challenges to conducting monetary policy in the euro area.

Marcin Wolski, Patricia Wruuck, 05 August 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has had a substantial impact on labour markets throughout Europe. This column uses new data sources based on Google Trends reports in order to investigate the speed of transmission of the crisis into individuals’ concerns about becoming unemployed. The results indicate that this transmission is linked to corporate resilience. A stronger financial position of firms to withstand liquidity shortfalls may have helped to cushion the deterioration in job market sentiment during the outbreak of the pandemic, suggesting the importance of bolstering liquidity as a way of sheltering jobs. 


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