Borağan Aruoba, Francis Diebold, Jeremy Nalewaik, Frank Schorfheide, Dongho Song, 03 December 2013

GDP can be estimated by measuring either expenditure or income. Since a penny spent is a penny earned, both methods should give the same answer, but there is substantial measurement error in both estimates. This column presents a new method of measuring US GDP that blends these two estimates. According to the new measure, GDP growth is about twice as persistent as the current headline measure implies. The new measure also makes the current recovery look stronger, especially in 2013.

Kyle Handley, Nuno Limão, 23 November 2013

The impact of policy uncertainty on economic activity is potentially important, but controversial because it is hard to identify and quantify. Recent research provides a framework to identify the impacts of policy uncertainty on firm decisions, and finds it has strong effects in the context of international trade. China’s WTO accession secured its most-favoured nation status in the US, and the evidence shows this reduction in uncertainty can explain a significant fraction of its export boom to the US.

Silvana Tenreyro, Gregory Thwaites, 12 November 2013

Governments wary of fiscal expansion have turned to monetary policy to stimulate slowly recovering economies. This column presents evidence that lowering interest rates is ineffective during recessions – just when fiscal policy would be most effective. If this result is robust, we are seeing recent signs of recovery in spite of austerity, not because of it.

Isabella Baldini, Paolo Manasse, 04 November 2013

Unlike the US, Europe is struggling to recover from the crisis. This is especially the case in certain European countries. This column discusses why the process of convergence in the Eurozone has slowed down. It proposes a way for European institutions to cope with the structural problems-- by individual country-level reforms and a federal budget. Otherwise, the alternative could be a disintegration of the Eurozone.

Isabella Baldini, Paolo Manasse, 04 November 2013

Unlike the US, Europe is struggling to recover from the crisis. This is especially the case in certain European countries. This column discusses why the process of convergence in the Eurozone has slowed down. It proposes a way for European institutions to cope with the structural problems – with individual country-level reforms and a federal budget. Otherwise, the alternative could be a disintegration of the Eurozone.

Jonathan Meer, Jeremy West, 10 September 2013

The recent proposal by President Obama to raise the federal minimum wage has brought this issue back into the limelight. This column presents new research suggesting minimum-wage policies may not cause an immediate shock to employment, as is often feared, but do cause a reduction in the rate of net job growth. The long-run prospects for individuals are damaged, as they are delayed the opportunity to develop skills and work experience – that crucial first rung on the career ladder.

Holger Breinlich, Alejandro Cuñat, 07 September 2013

Recent development of heterogeneous firm models in international trade were built on the observation that extensive margin effects are important in explaining the trade and productivity effects of trade liberalisation. This columns adds that if we want to use the current generation of heterogeneous firm models for the purpose of forecasting the effects of trade agreements, we need to allow not only for sources of within-industry but also within-firm productivity increases.

Brian Cadena, Brian Kovak, 12 August 2013

In the US, fewer and fewer people are moving long distances to pursue job opportunities. Presenting new research on Mexican immigrants in the US, this column argues that there are large welfare gains from the efficient spatial allocation of labour. However, welfare gains from the movement of labour are woefully understudied. If immigrants are more willing to move for a job than natives, policymakers should allow them to do so with ease. Workers should be free to move to markets offering better opportunities.

Arik Levinson, 09 August 2013

Efficiency standards appear to be at the centre of US climate policy. But is this policy effective? This column argues that, thinking laterally, evidence suggests that there are reasons to be suspicious. If the US is to focus so heavily on energy efficiency, we ought to have a better understanding of its effectiveness.

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.

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