Margherita Russo, Claudia Cardinale Ciccotti, Fabrizio De Alexandris, Antonela Gjinaj, Giovanni Romaniello, Antonio Scatorchia, Giorgio Terranova, 02 August 2021

Many countries turned to use contact-tracing apps to help control the spread of COVID-19. Despite public policy efforts, however, tracking apps have not been a success because of public concerns over data privacy. This column compares nine countries to explore the conditions behind the successful use of digital technologies and AI for public purposes. Individuals give over personal data to internet companies but are wary of sharing their data for the public interest. Citizen trust in public interventions and commitment to social goals need to be nurtured in normal times to be effective in emergencies.

Martina F. Ferracane, Erik van der Marel, 30 May 2021

The global economy relies on trade in digital services and cross-border data flows. However, digital trade rules across most countries have not been measured or classified. This column categorises the approach to data regulation in 116 countries and examines the implications of data regulation for trade in digital services. It suggests that proximity in data regulation frameworks may affect the cost and volume of digital trade between countries.

Ingo Borchert, L Alan Winters, 28 April 2021

An increasing amount of trade is digital, but trade negotiations are bogged down by arguments over how to regulate it. A new CEPR eBook investigates what gets in the way of digital trade, and editors Ingo Borchert and Alan Winters tell Tim Phillips what we can do to make it work better.

You can download the eBook, free of charge, here

Diane Coyle, 07 October 2020

David Nguyen, Marta Paczos, 06 October 2020

As the amount and variety of data collected by companies has increased in recent decades, data have become an essential resource. This column sets out a framework for understanding how businesses monetise data – distinguishing between data-enabled businesses that would not exist without access to large amounts of data and analytics, and data-enhanced businesses that exploit data to coordinate pre-existing business operations better. Allowing the increasing use of data to act as an unmeasured input in production handicaps key economic statistics – from output to productivity and beyond. 

Eiichi Tomiura, Banri Ito, Byeongwoo Kang, 12 August 2020

Cross-border data flows are increasingly critical for modern firms, and the regulation of data poses a distinctly novel challenge for policymakers in the 21st century. This column presents survey data from Japan, investigating exactly which type of firm are most likely to be affected by regulations surrounding the international exchange of data. The results of the study suggest that new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and 3D printers are usually adopted by the most productive and innovative firms, and that hampering these firms with regulation may create harmful effects for the wider economy.

Isaiah Hull, 23 July 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed pressure on central banks and other public institutions to monitor the economy at a higher frequency than usual. However, much of the data and expertise needed to perform such monitoring is concentrated in the private sector and academia. This column describes the effort made by the Swedish Riksbank to alleviate this bottleneck by opening up a collaborative public channel through which academics and the private sector can directly contribute to the research in real time.

Robert Lantis, Erik Nesson, 23 May 2020

The idea that basketball players can find themselves with a ‘hot hand’ – a streak in which they seem magically to make shot after shot – resonates with sports reporters and spectators alike. This column investigates whether the idea of the ‘hot hand’ holds any basis in fact. Analysing 12 seasons of data from the National Basketball Association, including over 500,0000 free throws and two million field goals, the authors conclude that the basketball ‘hot hand’ is largely illusory.   

Makoto Yano, 14 April 2020

Data are the new resource in the modern production process. Building a high-quality market where this resource is shared, distributed, and used requires first establishing its ownership. This column argues that blockchain technology can be harnessed to effectively assign data ownership and develop a healthy cyber ecosystem. Ensuring the rights of individuals who generate data is crucial to preventing unnecessary erosions of market quality. However, forming a healthy ecosystem will not happen spontaneously, and will require careful planning and the expertise from multiple fields.

Claudia Biancotti, Alfonso Rosolia, Fabrizio Venditti, Giovanni Veronese, 12 April 2020

The COVID-19 lockdown will negatively impact businesses and households around the world not only through its direct effects on economic activity and employment, but also indirectly by the disrupting the flow of crucial information. This column suggests some channels through which national statistical institutes and other public agencies, private data brokers, and Big Tech companies can harness the full potential of their access to data.

Susan Ariel Aaronson, 05 February 2020

Individuals, citizens and firms have become increasingly dependent on data-driven services such as artificial intelligence and apps, and the same is true of defence and national security officials. This column argues that the US failure to adequately govern how firms use and monetise data affects national security in many ways. It also examines specific examples of the misuse of data and assesses the responses by the US and the EU.

Susan Ariel Aaronson, 30 January 2020

While data are cheap and plentiful in many developing countries, data analysis, with its dependence on infrastructure and highly skilled labour, is expensive. This column asks whether developing countries are ready for the new data-driven economy and how development organisations might help them. It concludes that developing countries should be encouraged to develop plans for data governance and to experiment through technical assistance, regulatory sandboxes and collaboration. At the same time, development agencies and advocates need to wrestle with important questions about data-driven growth.

Maria Savona, 17 January 2020

Personal data have value, and economists failed to predict that this value would become concentrated in the hands of digital platforms. The column presents a novel data-rights approach to redistributing data value while not undermining the ethical, legal and governance challenges of doing so. This can be done by giving individuals authorship rights to their personal data.

Jon Frost, Leonardo Gambacorta, Yi Huang, Hyun Song Shin, Pablo Zbinden, 04 October 2019

BigTech firms are entering finance, and their access to massive amounts of information may give them an edge in areas like credit assessment and beyond. This column assesses the economic forces behind the adoption of Big Tech services in finance. It shows that BigTech lenders thrive in countries with less competitive banks and less strict regulation, and that they have an information advantage from the use of big data and machine learning.

Rachel Griffith, 05 September 2019

Rachel Griffith uses the example of the calorie paradox to illustrate how researchers sometimes need to give up their preconceptions and go with what they see in the data.

Wendy C.Y. Li, Makoto Nirei, Kazufumi Yamana, 23 July 2019

Online platforms that provide services at zero monetary cost benefit greatly from the data these transactions generate. This column proposes a new method to value these data, based on firm investments in organisational capital. The method also captures the social value of consumer data. Accurate estimates may guide investment and improve national accounts.

Adrian Alter, Gaston Gelos, Heedon Kang, Machiko Narita, Erlend Nier, 03 April 2019

The IMF’s new iMaPP database integrates five major existing databases to build a comprehensive picture of macroprudential policies in use globally. This column shows how this rich dataset provides novel insights into the non-linear effects of changes in loan-to-value limits as one example of how better data can help policymakers to use macroprudential tools more precisely and effectively.

Edward Glaeser, 02 April 2019

Edward Glaeser of Harvard University investigates how Yelp data can be used when official data are not yet available, particularly in predicting gentrification.

Richard Blundell, 22 March 2019

Richard Blundell of University College London discusses the use of microdata to inform policy.

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