Ufuk Akcigit, Sina T. Ates, Josh Lerner, Richard Townsend, Yulia Zhestkova, 24 September 2020

The US military community has highlighted the potential security threat posed by foreign venture investments in Silicon Valley, particularly from Chinese stakeholders. This column presents a theoretical and empirical analysis of the relationship between venture capital and national security, focusing on the ability of overseas firms to gain a domestic technological advantage through investing in the US tech sector. The growing importance of this the technology sector, as well as the national security issues at stake, mean that understanding the correlations is a vital avenue of future research.

Kyriakos Drivas, 21 September 2020

European trademark applications are an indicator of business confidence. While they have not dropped during the first wave of Covid-19 in aggregate, some countries and types of business are more affected than others. The column uses data on applications to explore the detail, showing applications by Chinese firms, new firms, and firms in certain product sectors have risen. Services firms have made fewer applications. 

Peter Klenow, Huiyu Li, 18 August 2020

There is much concern that the Covid-19 crisis may be particularly tough for relatively young firms to survive. Given that much innovation is attributed to young firms, this could then harm overall productivity. This column uses the dynamics of various firms’ market shares in order to infer their growth contributions. Compared to studies focusing on patents and R&D spending, the authors find a much bigger role for new and young firms in terms of accounting for productivity growth. Protecting young firms is therefore essential to mitigating the productivity damage of Covid-19.

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.

Arnoud Boot, Peter Hoffmann, Luc Laeven, Lev Ratnovski, 21 July 2020

Technological change in the financial industry is accelerating. Recent developments include new innovations and improvements on past trends. This column distinguishes between the information and communication channels of financial innovation and analyses their implications for financial intermediation. It suggests that innovations in these two dimensions may lead to big changes in the traditional bank business model. New policy priorities should focus on accurately assessing the operational risks and ensuring the robustness of these technologies.

Pietro Santoleri, Andrea Mina, 19 July 2020

Direct public support for business R&D is common practice in many countries, but evidence on its causal effects has been mixed. This column exploits discontinuity in the assignment mechanism of the first large-scale European R&D grant programme to assess the impact of the policy. The results indicate that direct grants have positive and sizable effects on a wide range of firm-level outcomes suggesting that R&D grants are an effective policy tool. 

Philippe Aghion, Helene Maghin, André Sapir, 25 June 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the structural dichotomy between the models of capitalism operating in Europe and the US; the former offers better protection for its citizens while the latter shows greater economic dynamism. This column argues that for all the harm COVID-19 has caused, the crisis has also provided an opening to rethink the versions of capitalism practised on both sides of the Atlantic. Some degree of convergence towards a better model is desirable, the authors suggest, and perhaps even possible.

Sylvain Leduc, Zheng Liu, 14 June 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns about the future of work. The pandemic may become recurrent and necessitate repeated adoptions of social distancing measures, creating substantial uncertainty about worker productivity. This column presents a theoretical framework suggesting that such job uncertainty reduces aggregate demand, and dampens business investment in general. However, automation may provide one way for businesses to cope with the uncertainty about worker productivity. It appears that pandemic-induced job uncertainty could stimulate automation investment, despite declines in aggregate demand.

Pierre-Yves Geoffard, 04 June 2020

The health costs of the Covid-19 pandemic are considerable, and the economic and social costs of lockdown policies are even larger. This column calls for an innovative mechanism to foster the development of a vaccine against Covid-19. Governments would commit now to buy back any patent obtained by a private firm which would discover an effective vaccine, at a price of €60 billion, and would grant the right to produce the vaccine to any firm able to do so. This mechanism would provide strong incentives to innovate, while protecting firms from the political risk of expropriation.

David Argente, Salome Baslandze, Douglas Hanley, Sara Moreira, 28 May 2020

Patents are at the heart of policies designed to incentivise innovation and productivity growth. In recent years however, while patent activity has skyrocketed, innovation and productivity growth have not. This column collects data on product innovations and links those to their respective patent. While patent filings are found to be followed by product innovations overall, this relationship is much stronger for firms with lower market share.

Sabrina Howell, Josh Lerner, Ramana Nanda, Richard Townsend, 14 May 2020

Governments worldwide have taken steps to bolster their venture capital sectors in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This column questions whether venture-backed innovation is particularly vulnerable to economic downturns, and finds that early-stage venture investment falls sharply during recessions. The quantity and quality of venture-backed innovation declines particularly for early-stage firms, underscoring the concerns that motivate such policy initiatives. Still, questions remain about the optimal design and public return of these expenditures.

Gaétan de Rassenfosse, Dominique Foray, George Abi Younes, Charles Ayoubi, Omar Ballester, Gabriele Cristelli, Patrick Gaulé, Gabriele Pellegrino, Matthias van den Heuvel, Elizabeth Webster, Ling Zhou, 06 May 2020

The COVID-19 crisis reflects a failure of the global health system. It also reflects well-known failures of the global science, technology, and innovation ecosystem, including systematic underinvestment in vaccine research. At the same time, the crisis reveals the extraordinary resilience of this ecosystem. This column argues that innovation is the only way out of the pandemic, and that formidable creative approaches and entrepreneurial forces are at play. Research in the economics of innovation helps in understanding some root causes of the present situation and sheds light on possible policy responses. 

Liudmila Alekseeva, José Azar, Mireia Gine, Sampsa Samila, Bledi Taska, 03 May 2020

Artificial intelligence will transform job tasks and occupations. This column uses data from US online job postings during 2010–2019 to show how absolute and relative demand for AI-related skills has grown across all industry sectors and occupation groups. Jobs requiring AI skills command, on average, an 11% wage premium compared to similar jobs that do not require AI knowledge. However, AI is at least as much a managerial challenge as it is a technological challenge. Real productivity gains will come only when there are managers who can use AI to create and capture value.

Keiko Ito, Kenta Ikeuchi, Chiara Criscuolo, Jonathan Timmis, Antonin Bergeaud, 23 April 2020

Interconnectedness and relative position in global production networks is an important factor for modern economies. In recent years, Japanese firms have lost their relative influence within the regional value chain. This column analyses the relationship between measures of network centrality and firm innovation output. It finds that having access to a greater breadth of customers is positively related to innovative activities, measured by patent applications. The results suggest an important role of knowledge spillovers from foreign markets.

Johannes Ehrentraud, Denise Garcia, 19 April 2020

Technological innovations in financial services are affecting every sector of the financial industry and generating a surge of new applications. This column takes stock of the policy responses to fintech developments in approximately 30 jurisdictions worldwide and proposes a novel conceptual framework – the ‘fintech tree’ – that distinguishes three categories: fintech activities, enabling technologies, and policy enablers. Designing a policy framework for fintech will require finding a balance that maximises its benefits while minimising potential risks to the financial system.

Nicola Pierri, Yannick Timmer, 18 April 2020

Technology adoption in lending can enhance financial stability through the production of more resilient loans. Motivated by the recent surge of FinTech lending, this column analyses the implications of lenders' information technology adoption for financial stability. Banks that adopted IT more intensely before the Global Crisis were significantly more resilient when the shock hit. These banks had significantly fewer non-performing loans, and issued more loans during the crisis itself. Loan-level analysis indicates that high IT adoption banks issued mortgages with better performances and did not offload low-quality loans.

Stefano Bolatto, Alireza Naghavi, Gianmarco Ottaviano, Katja Zajc Kejžar, 16 April 2020

Contracting institutions have proved to be pivotal for supply chain organisation, and empirical evidence has shown that firms rely on outsourcing to deal with hold-up inefficiencies induced by contract incompleteness. For intangible assets, vertical integration is one strategy to prevent knowledge dissipation. This column presents new research that illustrates how firms organise their value chain and their ‘knowledge’ under imperfect protection of intellectual property rights. The results suggest that the quality of institutions protecting tangible and intangible assets may have opposite effects on organisational choices along the supply chain.

Jeffrey Clemens, Parker Rogers, 10 March 2020

Why has medical innovation brought cost-increasing enhancements to quality, rather than cost-reducing advances in productivity? The column uses a new dataset drawn from patents for prosthetic devices to show that the design of incentives for innovators can have substantial effects on these margins. Fixed-price procurement arrangements induce greater effort to reduce production costs than cost-plus procurement arrangements. Procurement models may therefore inadvertently lead to 'missing innovations'.

Dany Bahar, Raj Choudhury, Hillel Rapoport, 28 February 2020

There is considerable historical and contemporary evidence of the linkages between skilled migration and innovation, suggesting that one of the most important engines of economic growth stands to be strongly negatively affected by the growing backlash against migration around the world. Based on a 95-country sample spanning several decades, this column shows that migrant inventors play an important role in shaping the patent production of their destination countries. Arguably, these dynamics – driven by migrant inventors – can also affect broader economic outcomes, given the secondary effects of patenting and innovation on productivity and firm performance.

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