Emanuele Ciani, Guido de Blasio, Samuele Poy, 11 July 2020

Large transportation infrastructure projects are considered a promising investment to spur economic growth in lagging areas by many policymakers. This column presents historical evidence that questions this assumption. It studies the most important Italian infrastructure project in the aftermath of WWII: the 440km freeway connecting the Southern regions of Italy. It finds, that while the freeway caused a significant reorganization of both economic activity and population from places far from the freeway to locations close to it, there is no evidence that it had any long-run effect on economic growth of the Southern region as a whole.

Thorsten Beck, Robin Döttling, Thomas Lambert, Mathijs van Dijk, 02 July 2020

Banks fulfil several key functions in the economy, from improving the allocation of capital by extending credit to facilitating consumption smoothing through saving and borrowing. The creation of liquidity lies at the centre of much of a bank’s operations. This column provides evidence that banks' liquidity creation is associated with higher economic growth across countries and industries, with important non-linear effects. Results suggest that in the new ‘knowledge economy’ banks will have a more limited role, compared to other types of financial intermediaries and markets.

Johannes Bubeck, Angela Maddaloni, José-Luis Peydró, 23 April 2020

The way that banks in the euro area react to negative central bank interest rates may be closely linked to their individual funding structure. This column suggests that they do not generally pass negative rates on to their depositors, and that they search for yield by investing in riskier securities. New evidence suggests that their investments are directed more towards securities issued by the private sector and securities denominated in dollars.

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.

Michal Gradzewicz, 26 March 2020

Capital investment at firm level can have both short-run and long-run effects on labour productivity. This column uses evidence from Poland to explore the relationship further. It is clear that different types and sizes of firms, from various sectors, demonstrate a range of trends. What is notable is that the impact of ‘learning by doing’ runs deep and affects the initial decision process of the capital investment itself. 

Laurence Boone, Debora Revoltella, 06 December 2019

For the past two years, global growth outcomes and prospects have steadily deteriorated, while investment growth has collapsed. This is particularly the case in Europe. This column argues that reducing policy uncertainty, rethinking fiscal policy, and acting vigorously to address the challenges raised by digitalisation, climate change, and persistent inequalities all have the potential to reverse the current slippery trend and lift investment and living standards. 

Carlo Altavilla, Lorenzo Burlon, Mariassunta Giannetti, Sarah Holton, 08 November 2019

Economists and policymakers continue to question the effectiveness of monetary policy when an economy faces near-zero or sub-zero interest rates. Sceptics argue that central banks cannot stimulate lending, and may indeed decrease the loan supply, by setting negative interest rates. This column shows that negative rates do not impede the transmission of monetary policy from banks to deposit holders because firms do not withdraw cash in response to negative rates the way households might. In fact, sub-zero rates may even stimulate the economy by encouraging firms to invest.

Nicholas Bloom, Philip Bunn, Scarlet Chen, Paul Mizen, Pawel Smietanka, 25 September 2019

The Decision Maker Panel, a monthly survey of CFOs from around 3,000 UK businesses, provides data on the uncertainty created by the Brexit process and the effect that is having on British businesses. This column summarises the latest results up until end August 2019, which reveal a broad-based rise in the proportion of respondents reporting that Brexit was one of their top three sources of uncertainty in recent months to close to the highest level since the EU referendum.  That uncertainty is also expected to be more persistent than previously thought.

Ralph Koijen, François Koulischer, Benoît Nguyen, Motohiro Yogo, 18 September 2019

Recent economic performance in the euro area has once again raised the possibility of the ECB conducting asset purchases. This column sorts security-level portfolio holdings data by investor type and across countries in the euro area to study portfolio rebalancing during the ECB purchase programme from 2015-17. There was a material difference in the impact on investors by geography – with foreign investors selling more than half of purchases.

Christoph Boehm, 07 September 2019

Fiscal stimulus packages typically feature large investment in infrastructure. The column argues that the fiscal multiplier associated with government investment during the Great Recession was near zero. Meanwhile, the government consumption multiplier was around 0.8. Estimates of the multiplier for total government purchases do not distinguish these two effects, which may affect their validity.

Robert J. Gordon, Hassan Sayed, 29 August 2019

Since 2005, productivity growth in the US and Europe has dipped below 1%. Using new industry-level from the US and ten EU countries, this column shows that that the industrial composition of the slowdown was similar in Europe and the US. Falling multifactor productivity growth explains both the magnitude and composition of falling productivity growth on both sides of the Atlantic. Decelerating technical change, rather than slowing investment, was the primary driving force in the transatlantic slowdown. 

Holger Breinlich, Dennis Novy, 16 August 2019

As Brexit nears (again), are British firms choosing to invest in the UK or in other European markets? Are European firms investing in the UK to preserve access to its markets? And has "global Britain" got off the drawing board yet? Holger Breinlich and Dennis Novy lead Tim Phillips through the numbers.

Giancarlo Corsetti, Romain Lafarguette, Arnaud Mehl, 13 August 2019

Many policymakers are concerned that fast trading has adverse effects on markets, although the existing evidence is ambiguous. This column argues that high-frequency trading can increase market efficiency and the quality of trade. By creating noise, fast trades may prevent traders with a herd mentality from pushing prices in one direction. 

Rawley Heimer, Alp Simsek, 03 August 2019

Policymakers for long have attempted to curb financial speculation while preserving markets for useful trading. This column analyses the impact of a recent US policy which restricts leverage in the foreign exchange market. It finds that the policy reduced speculative trading without impeding markets, and thus provides important lessons to address excessive growth in financial markets. 

James Anderson, Mario Larch, Yoto Yotov, 30 July 2019

Foreign direct investment has traditionally been viewed as a key driver of prosperity, and modern FDI has also become a vehicle for transferring intangible assets. This column uses a counterfactual experiment based on a hypothetical world with no outward or inward FDI to and from low-income and lower-middle-income countries to examine the effects of FDI on trade, domestic investment, and welfare. World welfare falls by about 6% and all countries lose out, with some poorer countries losing over 50%. World trade falls by 7%, with the losses again unevenly distributed.

Robert Barro, 25 July 2019

GDP counts investment twice – when it occurs and when rental income results. This column proposes an amendment to the national accounting system that only includes investment once. This would ensure that national income accounts do not overstate the resources available for consumption. It also has major implications for the estimation of the capital share in income.

John Gathergood, David Hirshleifer, David Leake, Hiroaki Sakaguchi, Neil Stewart, 22 June 2019

Investors who choose to build their own portfolios by stock-picking face the choice of how to diversify among stocks. The 1/N heuristic, equalising portfolio shares across stocks held, works well in practice. This column shows that investors who buy stocks often employ a different form of 1/N, dividing purchase value equally rather than maintaining a 1/N allocation. By narrowly framing their buy-day decision, these investors move their portfolios farther away from balance.

Weicheng Lian, Natalija Novta, Evgenia Pugacheva, Yannick Timmer, Petia Topalova, 07 June 2019

The dramatic decline in the relative price of capital goods has been an important – but overlooked – driver of real investment. This column analyses cross-country price data to establish that deepening trade integration and productivity growth have both contributed to this decline. The erosion of support for international trade and sluggish productivity growth may limit further declines in relative prices of capital goods, which could negatively affect real investment rates. 

Francesco Franzoni, 03 June 2019

The asset management industry has become increasingly concentrated in recent decades. Regulators are concerned about the systemic risks this may pose. Using data from the US, this column suggests that the increased concentration has led to more volatile prices of stocks held by large institutional investors. This poses challenges for regulators trying to weigh price efficiency and economies of scale.

Hites Ahir, Nicholas Bloom, Davide Furceri, 11 May 2019

According to the latest IMF projections, the global economy is now projected to grow at 3.3% in 2019, down from 3.6% in 2018. This is partly due to rising uncertainty in many parts of the world. This column shows how these statements are in line with the latest reading of the World Uncertainty Index, which shows a sharp increase in the first quarter of 2019. The increase in uncertainty observed in the first quarter could be enough to knock up to 0.5% of global growth over the course of the year. 



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