Peter Robertson, 09 October 2021

US military spending is said to be greater than the next 11 countries combined. However, the conventional use of market exchange rates to compare across countries dramatically overstates US spending relative to other countries. This column introduces a military purchasing power parity exchange rate for 59 countries based on the relative unit cost ratio across counties. This ‘military PPP’ shows that the US military budget in 2019 was smaller than that of the next three largest military spenders – China, India, and Russia – combined.

Andrea Asoni, Andrea Gilli, Mauro Gilli, Tino Sanandaji, 19 September 2021

There is a common perception that the US military predominantly recruits individuals from the most disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds with limited other career options. This column argues that this is no longer the case. Skill-biased technological change has led the US military to recruit more higher-skilled personnel since the 1990s, and while in 1979 the probability of joining the military was clearly higher for those with lower-than-average family income, for the 1997 cohort the probability was much more evenly distributed.

Kathryn Judge, Anil Kashyap, 17 September 2021

In March 2020 we all assumed there would be some reaction to Covid-19 on Wall Street but, when markets did the opposite of what most people expected, the Fed had to step in to stabilise the economy. Anil Kashyap and Kathryn Judge tell Tim Phillips what happened, why, and how to stop it happening again.

Read more about the research behind this: VoxColumn: Reforming the macroprudential regulatory architecture in the US, Kathryn Judge, Anil Kashyap

John Duca, John Muellbauer, Anthony Murphy, 13 September 2021

Research on house price cycles and their interactions with the economy has burgeoned since the Global Financial Crisis. This column draws five lessons from a recent comprehensive survey. It argues that conventional theories of house price dynamics are misleading. Shifts in credit conditions, together with differences in housing supply response across cities, regions and countries, account for much of the heterogeneity of house price outcomes. Finally, increased demand for space and unprecedented policy interventions together explain the very different house price experience in the pandemic compared with the Global Financial Crisis.

Liviu Voinea, Prakash Loungani, 16 August 2021

Over the past three decades, post-crisis inflation in OECD economies has only picked up once the gap between current wages and peak pre-crisis wages has closed. This column explores the role of the cumulative wage gap in driving inflation, with a particular focus on Covid-19. The authors argue that the increase in inflation in recent months, which appears driven by one-off increases in income and supply bottlenecks, will not be sustained, as long as cumulative wage gaps remain wide.

Xuelin Li, Andrew Lo, Richard Thakor, 11 August 2021

Innovation is a key driver of economic growth, and incentivising research and development is therefore a vital policy goal. This column explores the role of competition policy in stimulating innovation by pharmaceutical firms. Specifically, the authors assess the effect that ‘pay-for-delay’ agreements have on firm-level research and development in the US. The results suggest that restricting the ability of firms to engage in pay-for-delay agreements appears to increase their incentives to innovate in the face of competition, although the aggregate effects are not clear-cut.

Ruben Durante, 06 August 2021

Remember when your local newspaper was filled with classified advertising? Once, three-line ads for lonely hearts and used cars for sale were a guaranteed source of revenue. Then Craigslist replaced classifieds in the US, and the result, Ruben Durante tells Tim Phillips, has been less political reporting and more partisan polarisation.

You can download and read the underlying research, Djourelova, M, R Durante and G Martin (2021), “The impact of online competition on local newspapers: Evidence from the introduction of Craigslist”, CEPR Discussion Paper 16130 , here

Jason Furman, Melissa Kearney, Wilson Powell, 06 August 2021

As of June 2021, the US labour-force participation rate had not yet recovered to pre-COVID-19 levels. This column explores how much the aggregate decline in employment between 2020 and 2021 can be explained by excess job loss among parents, and particularly mothers, of young children, who have had to contend with school and daycare closures during the pandemic. The findings suggest that excessive employment declines among parents do not explain a sizeable share of ongoing job loss. A larger decline in employment for parents of young children was seen only among women without a bachelor’s degree.

Milena Djourelova, Ruben Durante, Gregory J. Martin, 25 July 2021

Newspapers advertising revenues have declined steadily over the past decades due to competition from online platforms. But what are the implications of this trend for the organisation and content of newspapers and for information local readers are exposed to? To shed light on these questions this column looks at the staggered introduction of Craigslist – the world’s largest platform for classified ads – in the US. It finds that the entry of Craigslist in a market led to considerable staff cuts by local newspapers, a decline in news coverage of politics, and a drop in readership. These changes also had electoral consequences, favouring partisan voting and ideologically extreme candidates.

Kathryn Judge, Anil Kashyap, 21 July 2021

That a shock the size of the Covid-19 pandemic would trigger distress in financial markets is far from surprising. What is surprising is how much of the distress arose in domains that could have been identified posing a potential threat to stability well before the pandemic hit. This column explores how the US financial regulatory regime is falling short and proposes reforms to increase the likelihood that policymakers will identify and address threats to stability – before they harm the real economy. 

Laurent Ferrara, Valérie Mignon, 17 July 2021

Identifying the peaks and troughs of recessionary episodes helps economists to understand the conditions surrounding crises. But deciding when a recession starts or finishes is not straightforward, and several methods exist. This column presents the dating specification for the French Business Cycle Dating Committee, describing how the group identifies key phases in France’s economic performance based on a quantitative and a qualitative pillar. The committee has dated the peak of the recession linked to the recent Covid-19 pandemic to the last quarter of 2019, it is still too early to identify the exit date of this recession, which is unprecedented in its source and profile. 

Elliott Ash, 03 July 2021

Faced with extreme old age and even dementia among its judges, some US states have imposed a mandatory retirement age. But this policy may remove experienced judges who are still productive in their jobs. This column examines the overall effect of mandatory retirement on court productivity in US states during 1947–1994 and finds that court productivity increased by more than 25% after the introduction of mandatory retirement. There may even be a team effect of ageing whereby the presence of older judges slows down the pace of work in the court.

Giovanni Cespa, Xavier Vives, 01 July 2021

Over the past two decades, governments and regulators have worked to foster competition among trading venues, leading to market fragmentation and contributing to a drastic reduction in the cost of trading. But this also led exchanges to heighten their reliance on revenue generating activities such as the sale of market data, co-location space, and fast connections to matching engines. This column argues that a connectivity fee or entry regulations could work well from a regulatory perspective, and highlights the important role of exchanges’ technological capacity decisions as a driver of liquidity.

Joan Costa-Font, 29 June 2021

Covid-19 vaccines exert large positive spillover effects beyond their protective effects for individuals, and thus their value far exceeds their costs. But these benefits are only realised if enough people receive both doses, so policymakers need to ensure appropriate incentives are in place to mitigate vaccine hesitancy. This column explores the potential of different incentives, arguing that creating a narrative of social esteem around being vaccinated may be the most effective way to ensure widespread uptake.

Martha J. Bailey, Shuqiao Sun, Brenden Timpe, 06 June 2021

Preschool attendance in the US is largely funded by parents, which means that the children of more affluent and educated parents are more likely to attend.  This column looks at the impact of Head Star, a large-scale preschool programme that serves roughly 1 million children annually in the US. The results show that children age-eligible for Head Start went on to achieve substantially higher levels of education. Head Start also led to improvements in adult economic self-sufficiency. Overall, the findings suggest that a large-scale preschool programme – even one with less per-child expenditures than model preschools – can deliver long-run benefits to students.

Ian Goldin, Pantelis Koutroumpis, François Lafond, Julian Winkler, 31 May 2021

Labour productivity is a key determinant in improving living standards. But in recent years, productivity has stagnated, if not declined, in many countries around the world. This column re-evaluates the various reasons as to why this might be, applying three criteria to the existing explanations for the slowdown. It finds that the slowdown in productivity can be attributed to numerous factors, ranging from mismeasurement to changes in trade patterns.

Charles Angelucci, Julia Cagé, Michael Sinkinson, 21 May 2021

Local journalism is disappearing in the US, with a quarter of all newspapers shut down in the past 15 years. Using the case of television expansion in the mid-20th century US, this column investigates how a more competitive national news market affects local news provision and, in turn, voting behaviour. After the entry of television, circulation for local newspapers and the total number of original local news stories published decreased. Because of television’s more national focus, this points to a strong shift towards more national news diets. Crowding out of local information led to less split-ticket voting, implying the nationalisation of local politics.

Christian Bayer, Benjamin Born, Ralph Luetticke, 20 May 2021

Debt-financed fiscal expansions have been a critical feature in many countries’ policy response to Covid-19. This column revisits the role of public debt in stimulating economic recovery. The authors identify both short-run and long-run effects, highlighting that higher public debt has small effects on the capital stock but leads to a sizable decline of the liquidity premium, which increases the fiscal burden of debt. Further, the revenue-maximising level of public debt is positive and has increased to 60% of GDP post-2010.

Kris Mitchener, Kevin O'Rourke, Kirsten Wandschneider, 19 May 2021

The Trump administration’s pursuit of protectionist trade policies was predicated to some extent on the belief that America was too lucrative a market to face retaliation. Using the most detailed data set of bilateral trade flows constructed to date for the interwar period, this column shows that in fact the US faced substantial and widespread retaliation from trade partners in response to protectionist measures employed in the wake of the Great Depression. Exports to retaliating countries fell by as much as 33%.

Gabriel Felbermayr, Aleksandra Kirilakha, Constantinos Syropoulos, Erdal Yalcin, Yoto Yotov, 18 May 2021

While the world experienced a golden age of international economic integration in the 1990s and the 2000s, in the more recent past there has been an emergence of interstate political conflicts, political polarisation, and extensive use of coercive sanctions intended to limit the international movement of goods, assets, and people. This column presents findings from the newly updated Global Sanctions Data Base, which now includes the years of the Trump presidency and provides a more comprehensive coverage of 1,101 sanction cases in the years from 1950 to 2019.



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