Olivier Blanchard, Florence Jaumotte, Prakash Loungani, 18 October 2013

The state of labour markets in advanced economies remains dismal despite recent signs of growth. This column explains the IMF’s logic behind the advice it provided on labour markets during the Great Recession. It argues that flexibility is crucial both at the micro level, i.e. on worker reallocation, and at the macro level, e.g. on collective agreements. It suggests that the IMF approach is close to the consensus among labour-market researchers.

Stelios Michalopoulos, Elias Papaioannou, 11 October 2013

During the ‘Scramble for Africa,’ the arbitrary design of colonial borders partitioned many ethnicities across two or more contemporary African states. This column presents recent research that exploits this quasi-experiment to study the effect of institutions on development. The overall effect of institutions is insignificant; but this masks considerable heterogeneity driven by diminishing government influence in remote areas. These findings conflict with previous cross-country work in economics, but support arguments put forward by the African historiography.

Steven Medema, 18 September 2013

Ronald Coase’s contributions to economics were much broader than most economists recognise. His work was characterised by a rejection of ‘blackboard economics’ in favour of detailed case studies and a comparative analysis of real-world institutions. This column argues that the ‘Coase theorem’ as commonly understood is in fact antithetical to Coase’s approach to economics.

Klaus Desmet, Stephen Parente, 18 May 2013

Innovation is the beating heart of modern growth. This column argues that innovation-blocking institutions weaken when markets expand and competition intensifies. The rise and decline of medieval Italian crafts guilds offer valuable insights into this process. Policies that promote greater market integration and stronger competition are key steps in lowering the barriers to innovation.

Elena Nikolova, 17 August 2012

Why do some states develop as democracies while others remain authoritarian? The question continues to puzzle social scientists. This column presents new data from 13 British American colonies from before the American Revolution. It shows that democratic institutions had a lot to do with the need to attract workers.

Graziella Bertocchi, Arcangelo Dimico, 22 July 2012

We evaluate the empirical relevance of de facto vs. de jure determinants of political power in the U.S. South between the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. Our results indicate that de jure voting restrictions reduce black registration but that black disfranchisement starts well before 1890 and is more intense where a black majority represents a threat to the de facto power of white elites.

Bernardo Guimaraes, Kevin Sheedy, 05 July 2012

Institutions are a key determinant of economic development and indeed many developing institutions are deeply dysfunctional. This column presents a new model suggesting that those in power may prefer to keep bad institutions despite their anti-development effects since they alllow the elite to grab a bigger slice of a smaller pie.

Eduardo Cavallo, Carlos Scartascini, 12 May 2012

For some commentators, the recent financial crises are a sign that financial development has gone too far. Yet there are still countries where such concerns are the stuff of dreams. This column focuses on why the level of financial development in poor countries remains so low and what policymakers can do about it.

Maurizio Bovi, 02 December 2011

The countries most affected by the Eurozone debt crisis seem also to be characterised by bad institutions and large shadow economies. This column describes the bad equilibrium in which bad governments offer few and low-quality public services and make people less willing to pay for services. Firms stay underground, public receipts stay low, and governments remain inefficient. In sum, the presence of inept bureaucracy may be strongly associated with the shadow economy.

Sübidey Togan, 28 April 2011

For developing countries, following the principles of sound economic policy and establishing the appropriate institutions of a functioning market economy is a very challenging task. This column says that completing the Doha Round could help them follow at least some of the principles of sound economic policy and establishing some of the appropriate institutions of functioning market economies.

Elias Papaioannou, Stelios Michalopoulos, 15 November 2010

How much influence did colonisation have on Africa’s development? This column examines data from before colonisation up to the modern day and argues that differences in colonial institutions do not explain differences in regional economic performance. Instead, it finds that pre-colonial political centralisation and ethnic class stratification have a significantly positive impact on local development.

Marc Quintyn, Geneviève Verdier, 23 September 2010

What do countries need for sustainable financial development? This column argues that protection of property rights is necessary but not sufficient. Using a sample of 160 countries from 1960 to 2005, it finds that checks and balances on power and political stability are the vital ingredients.

Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Gérard Roland, 21 September 2010

Does culture affect long-run growth? This column argues that countries with a more individualist culture have enjoyed higher long-run growth than countries with a more collectivist culture. Individualist culture attaches social status rewards to personal achievements and thus provides not only monetary incentives for innovation but also social status rewards.

Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Gérard Roland, 20 September 2010

CEPR DP 8013 models and tests the impact on growth of a cultural variable along a dimension of individualism/collectivism. Using genetic data to instrumentalize cultural transmission, the authors find a robust effect of individualism on productivity, income, and innovation.

Richard Grossman, 23 July 2010

Richard Grossman of Wesleyan University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his new book ‘Unsettled Account: The Evolution of Banking in the Industrialized World since 1800’. Among other things, they discuss the problems of striking a balance between a dynamic banking system and a stable banking system. The interview was recorded at a conference on ‘Lessons from the Great Depression for the Making of Economic Policy’ in London in April 2010.

Graziella Bertocchi, 06 April 2010

The causes and implications of state fragility – also known as state failure – are not yet well understood. This column explores the determinants of state fragility in sub-Saharan Africa and finds that institutions – as measured by civil liberties and the number of revolutions – are the main drivers. It says institutions trump economic, geographic, and historical factors.

Fernanda Brollo, Guido Tabellini, Tommaso Nannicini, Roberto Perotti, 10 March 2010

Is the discovery of natural resources necessarily a good thing? Examining data from Brazil, this column finds that a 10% windfall in government revenues leads to a 12 percentage point increase in corruption and a 3 percentage point reduction in the probability that politicians have a degree. The chance that an incumbent is reelected raises by over 4 percentage points.

Simon Johnson, Peter Boone, 22 February 2010

Over the last 30 years, the US financial system has grown to proportions threatening the global economic order. This column suggests a ‘doomsday cycle’ has infiltrated the economic system and could lead to disaster after the next financial crisis. It says the best route to creating a safer system is to have very large and robust capital requirements, which are legislated and difficult to circumvent or revise.

Wendy Carlin, Mark Schaffer, Paul Seabright, 17 February 2010

How much do institutions matter? This column provides a new insight into measuring their effects, suggesting that a survey of managers’ perceptions of the impact of institutions should be used as an estimate of the effect. It finds that the combined impact of improving public inputs in low-income countries to their level in high-income ones is equivalent to raising output by about 20%.

Alex Cukierman, 20 November 2009

Ideology, institutions, political, and accepted economic wisdom shape economic policy choices. This column explores how political ideologies and academic conclusions shaped US policymakers’ responses to the global financial crisis. It says that forecasting macroeconomic developments necessarily involves forecasting the role of such beliefs.

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