Helmut Reisen, Moritz Schularick, Marcus Kappler, Edouard Turkisch, 02 March 2011

If China only allowed its currency to appreciate, the global economy would rebalance and stabilise – or so the argument goes. This column studies the historical record of large exchange-rate revaluations. It supports the idea that currency appreciations have an impact on the current account but argues that this can come at a cost – the reduction in exports risks putting the brakes on global growth.

Uri Dadush, Vera Eidelman, 26 February 2011

Reform of the international monetary system tops France’s agenda as G20 chair. But what is it about the international monetary system that needs to change? This column says that the exchange-rate system is in relatively good shape.

Eleonora Patacchini, Yves Zenou, 25 February 2011

Most people agree that friends matter – not just for personal wellbeing but for achieving their goals in life. Several studies have shown this to be particularly the case in education but the detection and measure of such peer effects is often found wanting. Using detailed information on friendship networks of American high-school students, this column finds that the friends we make at age 15 to 18 have a strong and persistent effect on our lives.

Raphael Auer, 21 February 2011

This column says that low US inflation over the last 15 years is partly attributable to cheap Chinese imports. It argues that if the US trade deficit is reduced – via either Chinese inflation or a nominal appreciation of the renminbi – this disinflationary effect will be reduced. It says that the resulting inflationary impulse could be severe.

Ivan Cherkashin , Svetlana Demidova , Hiau Looi Kee, Kala Krishna, 19 February 2011

Trade preferences, such as those removing restrictions on Madagascar’s exports to the US, have long been a controversial policy. Some argue that it removes incentives for firms to become more competitive as they simply divert their trade to the preferred market. This column argues using counterfactual simulations that trade preferences can increase trade for the provider country, the receiver country, and other trading partners as well.

Domingo Cavallo, Fernando Díaz, 17 February 2011

With growing inflation in China, policymakers are facing tough decisions. This column argues that if the government is to curb inflation without allowing for the deflation of the tradables, it should do so though sector focused policies. Monetary policy is already committed to the objective of preventing deflation of the tradables and to dampen the credit cycle that is behind asset bubbles.

Avinash Persaud, 16 February 2011

Criticism of China’s exchange-rate policy continues throughout the US. This column argues that the US is in fact the exchange rate manipulator, due to its ongoing quantitative easing. What the US needs to do for a sustainable turnaround is to learn from other successful economies like China and Germany – not de-rail them.

Leah Boustan, Robert Margo, 12 February 2011

Economists and sociologists have long maintained that mass movement of whites to US suburbs harmed remaining inner city residents by reducing the tax base and fostering isolated racial enclaves. This column argues that white suburbanisation had a silver lining – it indirectly contributed to the rise in black homeownership.

Atif Mian, Francesco Trebbi, Amir Sufi, 10 February 2011

Several academics, policymakers, and regulators emphasise the role of foreclosures in the Great Recession and subsequent global crisis. This column provides one of the first attempts to show this empirically. Using micro-level data from all US states, it shows that foreclosures had a significant negative effect on house prices, residential investment, durable consumption – and consequently the real economy.

Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Olivier Coibion, 28 January 2011

As the US economy recovers in fits and starts, attention is turning to exit strategies. How will the Fed unwind its quantitative easing? This column presents evidence of substantial levels of policy inertia in monetary policy. It says that we should not expect rapid policy changes in the near future – barring clear signs of economic distress.

Harry Huizinga, Luc Laeven, Reint Gropp, Stefano Corradin, 25 January 2011

For many, the US housing market was the epicentre of the global crisis. This column suggests that the US bankruptcy code, which in some cases protects a large section of the individual’s house, leads to overinvestment in housing – a bias that may have helped massage the US housing bubble in the decade preceding the global crisis.

Eduardo Levy Yeyati, 20 January 2011

The global crisis has reignited debate on the desirability of capital controls. This column examines evidence from Argentina and Chile and argues that capital controls can be effective, but that their effectiveness and efficiency varies. It adds that controls need to be considered as part of a macro-prudential toolkit to prevent asset inflation and overvaluation that is costly to revert in the down cycle.

Barry Eichengreen, 10 January 2011

The dollar’s key role in international markets is once again in the spotlight. This column introduces a new book by Barry Eichengreen: Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System. As the author puts it, “If you were worried by talk of currency war late last year, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

Uri Dadush, Vera Eidelman, 20 December 2010

Today’s currency tensions are the result of a complex set of forces arising from the Great Recession. This column presents lessons from the break-up of the gold standard and of the fixed-rate dollar standard. While competitive devaluations are less likely today than is commonly feared, there is no room for complacency.

Patrick Gaulé, 14 December 2010

Brain drain can be a good thing for the source country; one benefit is that some skilled workers eventually return. Unfortunately, there is little evidence on the incidence and nature of such return migration. This column presents new data on the return-migration decisions of foreign faculty based in US chemistry departments.

Uri Dadush, Shimelse Ali, 09 December 2010

If China appreciates its currency, who will gain and who will lose out? This column argues that the single greatest beneficiary from a gradual renminbi revaluation, accompanied by measures to stimulate demand, will be China itself. Ironically, the US, which has been leading the charge on renminbi appreciation, would likely be among the losers. Certainly, a very large one-off revaluation that disrupts China’s growth hurts everyone.

John Cochrane, 07 December 2010

Last month, the US Federal Reserve announced a new quantitative easing programme, in which it will inject money into the economy by buying up to $600 billion in long-term government bonds. This column argues that now is not the time to be buying back long-term debt. Given exceptionally low long-term rates, the US government should be issuing it instead.

Venkatachalam Shunmugam, Debojyoti Dey, 03 December 2010

Politicians, public servants, and commentators have been queuing up in recent months to raise their concerns about global imbalances, particularly the China-US imbalance. This column argues that while the two economies may present opposing public stances, they are quietly playing a tango that neither can step out of.

Carmine Guerriero, 21 November 2010

When is regulation more efficient than competition? This column provides a theoretical framework for thinking about these issues and explores its implications using electricity data from the US. It argues regulation can be more efficient than competition when investment inducement is salient, and that deregulation can be inefficiently implemented when consumer groups are too politically powerful.

Gianmarco Ottaviano, Giovanni Peri, Greg Wright, 18 November 2010

Manufacturing production and employment in the US has been in decline over recent decades, often with the finger pointed at immigration and globalisation. This column presents evidence from the US between 2000 and 2007 to show that immigrant and native workers are more likely to compete against offshoring than against each other. Moreover, offshoring's productivity gains can spur greater demand for native workers.

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