Audinga Baltrunaite, Cristina Giorgiantonio, Sauro Mocetti, Tommaso Orlando, 26 July 2018

Public procurement outcomes crucially depend on the ability of the procuring agency to select high-performing suppliers. This column uses Italian data to explore how public administrator discretion affects public resource allocation. Greater discretion results in reallocation towards politically connected, low-performing firms. These adverse effects are driven by lower-quality procuring agencies.

Francesca Carta, Lucia Rizzica, 26 June 2018

A growing number of advanced economies are opting for highly subsidised childcare systems. But studies have shown mixed effects of subsidised childcare on children’s outcomes, suggesting a potential trade-off between promoting female labour supply and providing the best care for children. This column shows that an expansion of subsidised childcare in Italy increased female labour supply without hurting children’s outcomes. Childcare could be made more cost-effective by making it conditional on the mother’s employment status, or incentivising firms to provide corporate childcare options.

Antonio Fatás, 16 June 2018

Ashoka Mody, 01 April 2018

Riccardo De Bonis, Giuseppe Marinelli, Francesco Vercelli, 16 April 2018

There is no consensus on how to measure competition in the banking system, though the 'Boone indicator' of profit elasticity with respect to marginal costs has recently provided reliable results. This column uses a dataset of 125 years of bank balance sheets to calculate this indicator for the Italian banking system. It shows that regulatory changes have driven bank competition, an insight that is supported by other indicators.

Ashoka Mody, 21 March 2018

Two European elections – in Germany on 24 September 2017 and Italy on 4 March 2018 – warn that the peoples of Europe are drifting apart. Much of the recent deepening of these divisions can be traced to Europe’s single currency, the euro. This column argues that the political divide in Europe may now be hard to roll back absent a shift in focus to national priorities that pay urgent attention to the needs of those being left behind.

Alexandra D'Onofrio, 07 March 2018

Weak bank lending and low corporate investment have plagued Europe since the Global Crisis. In this video, Alexandra D'Onofrio investigates whether there is a link between high debt before the Crisis and low investment during it, based on firms' choices about their financial structures. These findings can help  create institutional frameworks that help firms strengthen their finances and protect themselves from similar vulnerabilities in the future. This video was recorded at the RELTIF book launch held in London in January 2018.

Andrea Polo, 12 February 2018

European banks have responded in different ways to monetary interventions in the last few years. In this video, Andrea Polo discusses the central role monetary policy has taken in Europe, along with its limitations. While the ECB has created substantial liquidity through quantitative easing, these large injections of liquidity may not have been fully passed on to the real economy. This video was recorded at the RELTIF book launch held in London in January 2018.

Paolo Manasse, Dimitris Katsikas, 01 February 2018

The basic ingredients of the policy prescriptions in response to the euro area debt crisis were quite similar across Southern Europe. This column explores the economic, political, and institutional factors that differentially affected the success of these prescriptions from country to country. Policy timing and sequencing, the balance between fiscal consolidation and structural reforms, and external constraints all play crucial roles. Future reform programmes should be calibrated to the distinct economic, social, and political features of targeted countries.

Bruno Pellegrino, Luigi Zingales, 28 November 2017

Italy stands out among developed countries for its large public debt and chronically low productivity growth. The country’s productivity growth disease cannot be addressed without understanding why aggregate labour productivity abruptly stopped growing around 1995. This column argues that the most likely cause is Italian firms’ non-meritocratic managerial practices, which meant they failed to capitalise on the ICT revolution.

Giovanni Federico, Alessandro Nuvolari, Michelangelo Vasta, 06 November 2017

The origins of the Italian north–south economic divide have always been controversial. This column argues that using real wages in the 19th century, rather than output data, sheds new light on this debate. At unification, there was already a significant gap between real wages in the north and continental south, which widened as the north-west industrialised. The main driver of the growth of real wages in this period was human capital formation.

Pietro A. Bianchi, Antonio Marra, Donato Masciandaro, Nicola Pecchiari, 13 September 2017

Economic theory doesn’t provide a clear prediction on how a firm’s performance will be affected if some of its board members have ties to organised crime. This column explores this issue using a unique Italian dataset that includes confidential information about ongoing investigations. Seven percent of firms are found to have at least one director under investigation, and these firms demonstrate, on average, lower levels of cash holdings and worse profitability compared with ‘untainted’ firms.

Marta Auricchio, Emanuele Ciani, Alberto Dalmazzo, Guido de Blasio, 01 September 2017

The nature of the relationship between public and private employment is ambiguous, with studies showing that increased public employment can have both crowding-in and crowding-out effects on private employment. This column explores this relationship across Italian municipalities. It finds evidence of strong crowding-out effects across municipalities, which is partially explained by increased competition in the housing market.

Athanasios Orphanides, 06 June 2017

Results of actions taken by central banks across advanced economies in response to the Global Crisis have been uneven in allaying fears regarding debt sustainability. This column compares the cases of Italy and Japan to that of Germany to examine whether monetary policy actions since the crisis have become a more important driver of debt dynamics than fiscal policy actions. In contrast to Japan, where in the past few years decisive monetary policy actions have allayed fiscal concerns, in Italy monetary policy decisions appear to have contributed to debt sustainability concerns.  

Laura Bottazzi, Sarah Grace See, Paolo Manasse, 18 April 2017

Modern Italy has more inter-ethnic marriages – a consequence of recent immigration. This column uses recent census data to show that  inter-ethnic marriages in Italy have a significantly higher risk of separation, which persists even when accounting for spousal traits and self-selection. The difference is smaller for recent marriages, reflecting a more secular society.

Roberto De Santis, 16 March 2017

French sovereign spreads have risen in recent months, coinciding with debate over the euro ahead of the country’s presidential elections in May. Italian sovereign spreads have been rising since the beginning of 2016. This column argues that investors are not pricing a break-up of France from the Eurozone. Most likely, they are pricing the possibility that the newly elected French government will not have enough supremacy to undertake important economic reforms. Market perception of redenomination risk in Italy, on the other hand, is rising slowly. 

Stelios Michalopoulos, Elias Papaioannou, 08 March 2017

Over the past decades, economists working on growth have ‘rediscovered’ the importance of history, leading to the emergence of a vibrant, far-reaching inter-disciplinary stream of work. This column introduces the third and final eBook in our three-part series which examines key themes in this emergent literature and discusses the impact they have on our understanding of the long-run influence of historical events on current economics. This volume focuses on the Americas and Europe and examines how events from history have helped shape their post-war economic identities.

Marco Onado, 21 February 2017

European banks have not recovered from the Global Crisis, in part due to heavy provisions for non-performing loans. This column argues that a comprehensive approach to the issue in Europe could address market inefficiencies and reduce bad loans to bearable levels. The establishment of a European scheme to securitise non-performing loans should form one of the next steps towards recovery.

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