Harry X. Wu, Janet X. Hao, 17 April 2022

China expects its service sector to play an important role in helping the economy restructure. This column measures China’s investment in intangibles as a good indicator of an economy’s future creativity. China’s services sector does not invest sufficiently in intangibles. The Chinese wholesale and retail sector, for example, spends only 1.21% of its value added on intangible assets, compared to 5.7% in the US. Chinese wholesale and retail services would have to invest heavily in building strong brands to catch up with their US counterparts.

Eddy Bekkers, Carlos Góes, 29 March 2022

The war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia have intensified the debate on the economic repercussions of a shift in global trade policy focus from mutual economic benefits of open trade policies to geopolitical considerations limiting interdependence. This column finds that a potential decoupling of the global trading system into two blocs – a US-centric and a China-centric bloc – would reduce global welfare in 2040 compared to a baseline by about 5%. Losses would be largest (more than 10%) in low-income regions that benefit most from positive technology spillovers from trade.

Rachel Cho, Rodolphe Desbordes, Markus Eberhardt, 04 March 2022

The current consensus in the literature that the finance-growth nexus is more complex than previously thought has led to concerns about ‘too much finance’. This column looks at the effects of 'too much finance' on growth and propensity for banking crisis and finds some evidence of a detrimental effect, but not for highly financially developed countries. Even for countries with intermediate levels of financial development, there do not appear to be any negative implications of ‘too much finance’ for long-term growth trajectories.

Cédric Chambru, Emeric Henry, Benjamin Marx, 11 February 2022

One of the most remarkable achievements of the French Revolution for ordinary people was the reorganisation of local government. Cédric Chambru, Emeric Henry and Benjamin Marx tell Tim Phillips how local state capitals emerged as a result, and what this tells us about how state capacity develops.

Read the VoxColumn about this research: Chambru, C, Henry, E and Marx, B. (2022), Building a state one step at a time: Evidence from France, VoxEU.org, 03 February.

Download the free DP: Chambru, C, Henry, E and Marx, B. 2021. 'The Dynamic Consequences of State-Building: Evidence from the French Revolution'. CEPR

Cédric Chambru, Emeric Henry, Benjamin Marx, 03 February 2022

Effective states can raise taxes and armies, enforce laws, and produce public goods, but how these functions are built over time is not well understood. This column studies the administrative reform initiated by the French Revolution, one of history’s most ambitious state-building experiments, to shed light on the sequence of steps needed to build effective states. Cities chosen as local administrative centres initially invested in the state’s capacity to extract resources from citizens. These cities may not have grown in the short run, but the investments eventually delivered payoffs in terms of public goods, which stimulated long-run growth. 

Peter Bofinger, Lisa Geißendörfer, Thomas Haas, Fabian Mayer, 03 February 2022

Joseph Schumpeter made pioneering contributions to economic theory on the relationship between the financial system and economic growth. However, the economic literature has often misinterpreted his work, particularly on the importance of banks and liquidity creation for development. This column argues that a correct interpretation of Schumpeter helps resolve many empirical puzzles which have emerged in the last decades. Using a panel of 43 countries, it finds strong positive effects of credit growth on GDP growth and little effect of saving on GDP and credit growth. 

Marek Ignaszak, Petr Sedláček, 02 July 2021

To gauge the efficacy of policies aimed at spurring growth, we must first fully understand the sources of aggregate growth. This column argues that understanding the drivers of economic growth requires paying attention not only to productivity and R&D dynamics at the firm level, but also to changes in demand for firms’ products. The authors provide a new perspective on commonly used supply-side pro-growth policies and open the door to analysing demand-side policies such as public procurement or product market regulation, which have been present in the policy debate but have largely escaped academic circles.

Miguel Ampudia, Thorsten Beck, Alexander Popov, 11 June 2021

The trade-off between stability and growth has long been a subject of policy debate and informs views on the extent to which the supervision of banks should be centralised. This column presents analysis of the ECB’s Single Supervisory Mechanism, using the announcement of the mechanism and its implementation as a quasi-natural experiment. It finds that centralised bank supervision is associated with a decline in lending to firms, which is accompanied by a shift away from intangible investment and towards more cash holdings and higher investment in easily collateralisable physical assets.

Martin Larch, Janis Malzubris, Stefano Santacroce, 19 May 2021

In 2020, EU member states launched massive fiscal measures to mitigate the economic and social fallout of the Covid pandemic. The activation of the severe economic downturn clause of the Stability and Growth Pact, coupled with a decisive intervention of the ECB, offered member states the flexibility to stage their fiscal response. As this column reveals, however, a closer look through the lens of an expenditure benchmark highlights important cross-country differences reflecting deeper issues. Countries with very high debt and/or high sustainability risks are bound by their meagre growth prospects. If unaddressed, future reviews of the EU fiscal rules may buy time, but not solve the underlying issues. 

Hans‐Helmut Kotz, Jan Mischke, Sven Smit, 03 May 2021

The future of productivity and economic growth in the US and Europe is uncertain. This column reviews evidence from eight economic sectors to lay out the key conditions for sustained recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. It suggests that the weak productivity growth that followed the Global Crisis can be averted if private and public sectors act together to strengthen demand and diffuse supply-side restructuring to all firms. 

Soeren J. Henn, James Robinson, 26 April 2021

Social science research has painted a dismal picture of Africa’s potential for sustained economic growth. But growth, such as that which happened in China after 1978, can be surprising and can tap into ‘latent assets’ in a society that might have not been previously evident. This column identifies three latent assets in Africa which the authors argue are highly propitious for its long run trajectory.

Jonathan Muringani, Rune Fitjar, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 20 April 2021

Social capital matters for economic growth and development, but different types of social capital matter in very different ways. This column examines how differences in social capital across Europe shape regional economic growth. While ‘bridging’ social capital is linked to higher regional economic growth, ‘bonding’ social capital leads to lower growth. This is particularly the case in less-developed regions and in regions with a lower endowment of human capital. As the level of education increases, the need for bridging social capital declines, implying that bridging social capital and human capital are, to a certain extent, substitutes.

Stephen Broadberry, Alexandra de Pleijt, 04 April 2021

Little is known about the role of capital in economic growth before the late 19th century. This column provides the first estimates of investment and the capital stock in Britain as far back as 1270. Although important changes did occur in the role of capital, such as the growing importance of fixed capital relative to working capital and a substantial increase in the investment share of GDP, growth accounting analysis shows that productivity growth was more important than capital deepening in explaining the growth of output per head.

Massimo Morelli, Matia Vannoni, 29 March 2021

The link between regulation and the economy has been central in political economy since the 1970s. Using data on US states from 1965 to 2012, this column argues that regulation may be good or bad for the economy depending on its type and the information and incentives of the regulators. More regulation leads to higher economic growth when that regulation is more detailed, when the current level of regulation is lower, when uncertainty is higher, and in contexts with greater competition and/or opportunity of experimentation among regulation proposers and greater accountability. 

Nauro Campos, Vera Eichenauer, Jan-Egbert Sturm, 03 August 2020

Economists have long assumed a virtuous cycle between integration and reforms. Implementing structural reforms helps maximise gains from integration, while the deepening of integration would foster reforms. This column discusses new research on European integration, its relationship with reforms and economic growth. It finds that integration triggered product market, but neither labour nor financial market, reforms. It also shows that, to understand the effects of reforms on economic growth, sectoral differences are less important than country heterogeneity. 

Felix Kersting, Iris Wohnsiedler, Nikolaus Wolf, 11 July 2020

Max Weber famously hypothesised that the Protestant work ethic fostered modern economic development. Does religion matter for economic success? This column revisits Weber’s hypothesis in the context of 19th-century Prussia. Protestantism did not matter for savings, literacy rates, or income levels across Prussian counties after 1870. Instead, there are large differences between ethnic groups, likely due to ethnic discrimination. Nationalism must be taken into account to understand Weber’s writings.

Masayuki Morikawa, 10 February 2020

Although long-term macroeconomic forecasts substantially affect the sustainability of government debt and the social security system, they cannot avoid significant uncertainty. This column assesses whether academic researchers in economics make accurate long-term growth forecasts, comparing ten-year growth forecasts made by Japanese economists in 2006–2007 with the realised figures. Even excluding the years affected by the Global Crisis, the results show that forecasts tend to be biased upwards and involve significant uncertainty, even for economics researchers specialising in macroeconomics or economic growth.

Mariarosaria Comunale, Francesco Paolo Mongelli, 27 January 2020

Over the past 30 years, euro area countries have undergone significant changes and endured diverse shocks. This column assembles a large set of variables covering the years 1990-2016 and investigates possible links to fluctuations and differences in growth rates. The findings suggest a significant positive role for institutional integration in supporting long-run growth, particularly for periphery countries. Competitiveness and monetary policy also matter for sustained growth in the long run, while higher sovereign stress, equity price cycles, loans to non-financial corporations and debt over GDP have either mixed or negative effects in core and periphery countries.

Piritta Sorsa, Jens Arnold, Paula Garda, 13 January 2020

Economic growth in Latin America has been persistently lower and more erratic than the emerging economies of Asia, largely due to low productivity borne out of both weak competition and a large informal economy. This column analyses the various factors that have caused these conditions to exist in several Latin American countries, and how policies to counteract them have fared. For significant progress, a detailed strategy of simplifying regulations, easing administrative burdens, encouraging market entry, and reducing trade barriers is required to formalise workers and encourage market competition.

Jakub Growiec, Peter McAdam, Jakub Mućk, 24 June 2019

The worldwide decline of the labour share is worrying, because the labour share is thought to be too low. This column attempts to derive an estimate of the socially optimal labour share. The calibration implies that the socially optimal share is 17% higher than the historical average. 



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