Jeffrey Frankel, 07 August 2013

Can international trade be good for the environment? This column assesses the EU-Chinese anti-dumping dispute in detail, and argues that trade could well be the saviour of solar power. Trade was good for protecting against things like sulphur dioxide, in the case of automobiles, 30 years ago. The same is true of trade in solar equipment today. Westerners should celebrate the contribution of trade to reducing the cost of solar power, not block it with protectionist anti-dumping measures.

Philippe Bacchetta, Eric van Wincoop, 27 June 2013

How can we explain the rapid spread of the Great Recession? This column focuses on international co-movements to explain its global nature, developing a model that shows the global panic to be a rational self-fulfilling mechanism and global co-movements to occur even in countries without much economic integration. Perhaps most importantly, the global economy was ripe for panic due to historically unprecedented economic integration, tight credit, limited scope for monetary policy and limited room for fiscal policy due to high debt levels.

George Hall, Thomas Sargent, 19 May 2013

Can we learn from previous instances of fiscal prioritisation? This column surveys the US Treasury’s response to three wars – the Revolutionary War, The War of 1812 and the Civil War. Contemporary advocates of engaging in fiscal discrimination might ponder the actions of previous US Presidents Madison and Grant, who honoured all existing federal obligations despite challenging fiscal conditions.

Stuart Gabriel, Matthew Kahn, Ryan Vaughn, 05 May 2013

A relatively unforeseen implosion in housing markets figured prominently in the 2007 meltdown in capital markets and the subsequent downturn in the global economy. This column presents new research on the political geography of subprime lending. Congressional leaders – as well as other recipients of campaign contributions – may have benefited from gains to trade in the direction, pricing, and sizing of subprime mortgage loans.

Michael Stolpe, 22 March 2013

The crisis has shot holes in government budgets devoted to pro-growth public goods. This column argues that health-related public goods support long-term economic growth. Governments may be more inclined to focus on spending related directly to jobs, such as education and welfare-to-work programmes, but health should not be forgotten

María Nieto, Eugene White, 22 March 2013

The euro cannot have a centralised monetary authority and decentralised bank supervision. This column draws on US banking history, detailing how a banking crisis in the nineteenth century led to the creation of dual systems of bank supervision. The US system was imperfect, and the central role and powers of the ECB within the Single Supervisory Mechanism will be to limit the weaknesses of a dual system of supervision. Despite this, hazards remain. For those looking for a guide to the potential threats to financial stability under this system, understanding the US experience is relevant.

Simon Evenett, Robert Stern, 21 March 2013

The US and the EU have announced their intentions to launch trade talks – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This column argues that this should not be thought of as a standard tariff-lowering deal with a few extras thrown in for good measure. Rather, we don’t really know what it will do because trade economists have failed to develop the necessary tools for understanding its impact. It is time for policy analysts to re-tool.

Richard Schmalensee, Robert Stavins, 07 March 2013

Not so long ago, cap-and-trade mechanisms for environmental protection were popular in Congress. Now, such mechanisms are denigrated. What happened? This column tells the sordid tale of how conservatives in Congress who once supported cap and trade now lambast climate change legislation as ‘cap-and-tax’. Ironically, conservatives are choosing to demonise their own market-based creation. The successful conservative campaign that disparaged cap-and-trade means it may now be politically impossible to promote it in the US. The good news? Elsewhere, cap and trade is now a proven, viable option for tackling large-scale environmental problems.

Orley Ashenfelter, Olivier Gergaud, Victor Ginsburgh, Karl Storchmann, 01 March 2013

Does terroir really affect a wine’s quality? This column argues that alleged experts repeatedly cannot tell a superstar wine from a cheaper bottle. Like many cultural commodities, it seems that the quality of wine is not an objective trait. Rather, these commodities become whatever we want them to become.

Willem Thorbecke, 26 February 2013

Policymakers everywhere are concerned about currency wars. Are quantitative easing and managed exchange rates bad for the global economy? This column looks at the hard empirical evidence, arguing that, in fact, Japan is behaving rather responsibly and that other strong economies have themselves benefited from undervalued currencies. That said, it is true that politicians’ short time horizons often lead to stealthy policy and large swings in exchange rates. Economists should therefore aim to promote longer-run cosmopolitan interests rather than shorter-run nationalistic agendas where possible.

Harold James, Hans-Werner Sinn, 26 February 2013

Can the euro exist without fiscal or political union? This column draws on the history of the US – especially its assumption of states’ debt after the War of Independence – to investigate which path might best serve the Eurozone. History tells us that unions require a well-constitutionalised system of restraint on fiscal behaviour, both at the federal level and at that of individual states.

Pelin Ilbas, Øistein Røisland, Tommy Sveen, 13 February 2013

Economists everywhere recognise the Taylor rule’s importance in monetary policymakers’ decisions. But exactly how important is it? This column aims to analyse the Taylor rule’s influence on US monetary policy by estimating the policy preferences of the Fed. There is a high degree of reluctance to let the interest rate deviate from the Taylor rule and, contrary to the literature and current policy debates, it seems large deviations from the Taylor rule between 2001 and 2006 were in fact due to negative demand-side shocks. During this period, there is in fact no evidence to support the notion of a decreased weight on the Taylor rule.

Paolo Manasse, 17 January 2013

All G7 economies are struggling in the post-crisis climate, but US GDP has recovered to pre-crisis levels, while the Eurozone simply hasn’t. This column portrays the global crisis as a transitory shock for the US, but as a quasi-permanent shock for Europe. The policies that are needed get the Eurozone back on track do not seem to be politically feasible. As tension rises with every quarter of stagnation, prospects for the survival of the euro are not only not improving, they are actually getting worse.

Paola Conconi, Giovanni Facchini, Max Steinhardt, Maurizio Zanardi, 07 January 2013

As populations in rich nations continue to age and skill shortages begin to emerge, concern over getting immigration policy right is set to intensify. This column discusses new research on US policymaking, showing that many of the determinants of policymakers’ attitudes towards trade are also in operation when it comes to migration. Using the Heckscher-Ohlin model, it finds that US House members from districts where skilled labour is abundant are more likely to support both trade liberalisation and a more open policy for unskilled immigration.

Rand Ghayad, William Dickens, 05 January 2013

US unemployment seems stuck at an unusually high level of 8%, prompting some to suggest a widespread skills mismatch. This column argues that a skills mismatch is not supported by the evidence. Rather, out of the possible explanations, it seems that any shift in the ratio between unemployment and vacancies is driven by either lower search efforts by the long-term unemployed or by a reduction in their employability.

Mika Maliranta, Niku Määttänen, Vesa Vihriälä, 19 December 2012

Do the ‘cuddly’ Nordic countries free ride on the ‘cut-throat’ incentives for innovation in US-style economies? Don’t PCs, the internet, Google, Windows, iPhones and the Big Mac speak for themselves? This column argues that, despite a higher overall tax burden and more generous safety nets, the Nordics have generated at least as much – if not more – innovation than the US. So far, ‘cut-throat’ capitalism has not been the only road to an innovative economy.

Casey Mulligan, 31 October 2012

What has happened to marginal tax rates in the US? This column argues that marginal tax rates vary so much among different groups in the US that redistributive taxes have actually damaged and interfered with the incentives and make up of the workforce.

Zack Cooper, 30 October 2012

With over 40 million Americans uninsured and the costs of care at an all time high, healthcare has become a major issue in this year’s presidential race. This column evaluates the ramifications of both candidates’ respective policies.

Jacob Kirkegaard, 13 October 2012

Youth unemployment in the Eurozone looks like a social and economic disaster in the making – 30%, 40%, even 50% of young people sitting on their hands instead of building skills and experience. This column argues the headline numbers are misleading. While youth unemployment is a serious problem, a large share of EZ youth are not in the labour force, so the headline figures overstate the labour-market ‘scar tissue’ that will be left over from the crisis.

Jeffrey Frankel, 02 October 2012

Cultural generalisations are dangerous. Sometimes, however, statistical relationships are so strong that it is worth pondering their significance. Are some groups more likely to take responsibility for their personal behaviour than others with respect to their sexual behaviour, physical fitness, financial dependency on the federal government? The fearless social scientist will not shrink from confronting these questions.

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