David Martinez-Miera, Rafael Repullo, 27 March 2019

Various factors have been advanced as possible causes of the build-up of risks leading to the Global Crisis, and multiple policies have been put forward to address them. This column discusses the effectiveness of monetary policy and macroprudential policy in responding to the build-up of risks in the financial sector. While both policies are useful, macroprudential policy is more effective in terms of financial stability and can lead to higher welfare gains.

Mengjia Ren, Lee Branstetter, Brian Kovak, Daniel Armanios, Jiahai Yuan, 16 March 2019

Despite leading the world in clean energy investment in recent years, China continues to engage in massive expansion of coal power thanks to policies that effectively subsidise and (over)incentivise coal power investment. This column examines the effects of the 2014 devolution of authority from the central government to local governments on approvals for coal power projects. It finds that the approval rate for coal power projects is about three times higher when the approval authority is decentralised, and provinces with larger coal industries tend to approve more coal power.

Jacques Bughin, 26 February 2019

The US and China are clear leaders in investment in, and the adoption of, artificial intelligence. This column argues that while Europe lags in these areas, it is home to high levels of developer talent and to significant AI hubs. European AI may thrive if its human capital and innovation culture are combined with levels of investment seen elsewhere.

Peter Egger, Katharina Erhardt, Christian Keuschnigg, 25 February 2019

The effect of taxes on firm-level investments is very heterogeneous. This column shows that the impact of corporate taxation is up to 70% higher for entrepreneurial firms than for managerial ones, while dividend taxation negatively affects the investment of financially constrained firms but entails no significant impact on cash-rich firms. Policy should provide targeted tax relief to the most constrained firms, where taxes are most harmful, if other policies are unsuccessful in improving access to external funds.

Philipp-Bastian Brutscher, Pauline Ravillard, 14 February 2019

Promoting investment in energy efficiency has become increasingly important over the past decade, but not much is known about effective ways to promote firm-level investments in energy efficiency. Using new experimental data on EU firms’ stated willingness to invest in hypothetical energy-efficiency projects with varying offers of financing and technical assistance, this column demonstrates how a favourable financing offer can increase the likelihood that firms are willing to invest in energy efficiency by as much as 33%. 

Debora Revoltella, 22 January 2019

Europe is at risk of falling behind its global competitors. In a period of radical technological transformation, European firms are investing too little, with a gap both in tangible and intangible investment compared to the US. This column calls for a ‘retooling’ of Europe’s economy in relation to skills, innovation finance, the business environment, infrastructure, and deepening the Single Market.

Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Luc Laeven, David Moreno, 15 January 2019

Euro area corporate sector investment collapsed post-crisis, especially in periphery countries. The column uses firm and bank data to investigate whether corporate debt accumulated during the boom years was responsible. Firms with higher leverage or firms that borrowed more decreased investment more, especially when linked to weak banks. These channels explain about 60% of the decline in aggregate corporate investment during the crisis.

Emmanuel Dhyne, Jozef Konings, Jeroen Van den bosch, Stijn Vanormelingen, 07 January 2019

Although information technology has reshaped the way businesses operate, measuring IT capital in firms is challenging. Using an exceptionally rich firm-level dataset from Belgium, this column finds that large firms benefit more from IT than small firms, and that IT explains about 10% of the productivity dispersion. IT has contributed to Belgian GDP and productivity growth prior to the Global Crisis, but the recession seems to have led firms to forgo investment in IT. Achieving optimal IT investment levels could reinvigorate productivity growth.

Yujin Kim, Chirantan Chatterjee, Matthew J. Higgins, 15 December 2018

Investments in early-stage companies are declining, as venture capital firms find it hard to evaluate the risks and rewards from investing in the technologies. The column shows how the EU Orphan Drug Act caused a movement towards early-stage deals in affected sectors in both the EU and the US. Venture capital firms were more likely to invest at an early stage in sectors covered by the regulation and also made more early-stage investments.

Nicholas Bloom, Scarlet Chen, Paul Mizen, 16 November 2018

The majority of businesses in the UK report that Brexit is a source of uncertainty. This column uses survey responses from around 3,000 businesses to evaluate the level and impact of this uncertainty. It finds that Brexit uncertainty has already reduced growth in investment by 6 percentage points and employment by 1.5 percentage points, and is likely to reduce future UK productivity by half of a percentage point.

Claudio Borio, Piti Disyatat, Mikael Juselius, Phurichai Rungcharoenkitkul, 18 October 2018

Has the decline in real (inflation-adjusted) interest rates over the last 30 years been driven by variations in desired saving and investment, as commonly presumed? And is this a useful way of thinking about the determination of real interest rates more generally, at least over long horizons? This column finds that this is not the case by systematically examining the relationship between several saving-investment drivers and market real interest rates (as well as estimates of natural rates) since the 1870s and for 19 countries. By contrast, a clear and robust role for monetary policy regimes emerges. The analysis has significant implications for the notion of monetary neutrality and policymaking.

Harjoat Singh Bhamra, Raman Uppal, 18 October 2018

Most households do not diversify but instead invest in only a handful of stocks, typically ones with which they are familiar. Using a new framework for evaluating the welfare losses from this underdiversification, this column argues that when the effect of familiarity biases on a household’s decision to allocate wealth between risky and safe assets and on its consumption-savings decisions are taken into account, the welfare loss is amplified by a factor of four. The impact on household and social welfare of financial policies through innovation, education, and regulation could thus be substantial.

Enrique Schroth, 26 July 2018

Private equity funds are usually illiquid for invested limited partners over a fixed period of time. But, as the Global Crisis has shown, sometimes partners may need to cash out early. Enrique Schroth discusses how the cost of doing so, in terms of the discount partners pay on their investment, can be substantial. One quarter to one third of the variation in the discount paid for an early exit can be attributed to the amount of liquidity in the economy.

Andrew Ellul, 05 July 2018

Systemic risk has been a cause for growing concern since the onset of the Global Crisis. Andrew Ellul explains his research on the lending side of systemic risk creation, which address the types of investments financial institutions make. These investments have shifted towards equity markets, which are riskier and less liquid, and more interconnected - all of which amplifies risk in crisis.

Alminas Žaldokas, 21 June 2018

Investors ask companies for greater information disclosure in order to make better investment decisions. Alminas Žaldokas discusses his research on whether increased disclosure to investors may be helping firms collude on prices, harming consumers. This video was recorded at CEPR's Third Annual Spring Symposium.

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.

Rain Newton-Smith, 02 February 2018

Low productivity continues to plague the UK economy. Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist at the CBI, discusses how greater and better-targeted investment, along with improved taxation, lie at the heart of resolving this. This video was recorded at the RELTIF book launch held in London in January 2018.

Christian Helmers, Henry Overman, 25 November 2017

Highly localised research infrastructure investment, such as in the Large Hadron Collider, often leads to major scientific breakthroughs, but there is little evidence on the longer-term and wider geographical impacts on scientific output. This column uses the example of the UK’s Diamond Light Source to study the impact of large facilities on where scientific research is conducted. Not only do such investments substantially increase directly related research in the local area, they also create spillovers on unrelated research through knowledge sharing.

Monika Schnitzer, Martin Watzinger, 31 October 2017

Conventional wisdom holds that venture capital-financed start-up companies generate positive spillovers for other businesses, but these spillovers are hard to measure accurately. This column uses a broader analysis of patent spillovers than previous studies to argue that venture capital-financed start-up companies help established companies innovate, and play a significant role in the commercialisation of new technologies. This suggests that subsidies for venture capital investment should be at least as large as current R&D subsidies.

Jan Hanousek, Anastasiya Shamshur, Jiri Tresl, 29 October 2017

The idea that corruption hinders investments is not new, but the literature has tended to focus on the impact of average corruption levels. Based on 140,000 firm-level observations for 13 Central and Eastern European countries, this column explores the impact of corruption uncertainty. The evidence suggests that while foreign-controlled firms are unaffected by the corruption uncertainty factor, domestic firms decrease investments significantly when uncertainty about corruption practices increases. This decrease in investment is accompanied by a decrease in cash holdings, which points to a possible motive to build off-balance sheet funds for bribery purposes.

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