Maurizio Bussolo, Francesca de Nicola, Ugo Panizza, Richard Varghese, 28 February 2020

Firms can use political connections to gain an unfair advantage in resource allocation, such as easier access to credit. This column examines around 460,000 firms from six central and eastern European economies and shows that political connections ease credit constraints, distort capital allocation, and may have large welfare costs. Connected firms do not always borrow to invest and, when they do invest, they are likely to misallocate capital.

Ishac Diwan, Jamal Ibrahim Haidar, 18 January 2020

Firm-level political connections are widespread. This column examines whether they affect employment decisions in Lebanon, a country where the majority of university students think that connections are important for finding jobs and many admit to having used them. While politically connected firms create more jobs than unconnected firms, the presence of such firms in a sector is correlated with lower aggregate job creation. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that unfair competition from politically connected firms hurts unconnected competitors so much that aggregate growth in the sector is affected negatively.

Ufuk Akcigit, Salome Baslandze, Francesca Lotti, 30 November 2018

Corruption, especially rent-seeking behaviour by politicians and firms, has adverse consequences for competition and ultimately growth. This column explores how political connections influence firms’ outcomes in Italy. The results point to a ‘leadership paradox’, whereby market-leading firms are more likely to be politically connected than their competitors, but less likely to innovate. At the aggregate level, political connections tend to be associated with worse industry dynamics, including lower entry, reallocation, growth, and productivity.

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