Molly Lesher, 13 October 2020

Many new innovations do not fit neatly into the traditional definitions of markets as recognised by existing regulatory bodies. One way policymakers can define new regulatory frontiers for such technologies is to implement ‘sandboxes’ – frameworks that provide participant companies with some regulatory flexibility while insulating the impact on consumers. This column argues that while sandboxes can bring benefits, they are not always the best approach and policy experimentation can – and should – take many forms.

Tommaso Bighelli, Filippo di Mauro, Marc Melitz, Matthias Mertens, 13 October 2020

Aggregate firm concentration has increased in Europe in the last decade. Using firm-level data, this column shows that concentration is positively associated with productivity at the sector level. As a result, rising concentration should not be viewed as conclusive evidence of a weak competitive environment and need not necessarily be a cause for concern. Rather, rising concentration may be a reflection of more efficient market processes. This has important consequences for industrial and antitrust policy, which must carefully evaluate the costs and benefits of increasing concentration.

Ufuk Akcigit, Sina T. Ates, Josh Lerner, Richard Townsend, Yulia Zhestkova, 24 September 2020

The US military community has highlighted the potential security threat posed by foreign venture investments in Silicon Valley, particularly from Chinese stakeholders. This column presents a theoretical and empirical analysis of the relationship between venture capital and national security, focusing on the ability of overseas firms to gain a domestic technological advantage through investing in the US tech sector. The growing importance of this the technology sector, as well as the national security issues at stake, mean that understanding the correlations is a vital avenue of future research.

Eiichi Tomiura, Banri Ito, Byeongwoo Kang, 12 August 2020

Cross-border data flows are increasingly critical for modern firms, and the regulation of data poses a distinctly novel challenge for policymakers in the 21st century. This column presents survey data from Japan, investigating exactly which type of firm are most likely to be affected by regulations surrounding the international exchange of data. The results of the study suggest that new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and 3D printers are usually adopted by the most productive and innovative firms, and that hampering these firms with regulation may create harmful effects for the wider economy.

Marc Ivaldi, Jiekai Zhang, 10 August 2020

Television channels face a trade-off between the quality service (and number of viewers) and the revenue generated by advertisements. The market is said to be two-sided, with TV channels providing a platform through which advertisers and consumers are brought together during commercial breaks. This column examines the effects of the merge between two digital TV channels in France, and the regulatory intervention, on the quality of programming for viewers and the availability and cost of advertising space for commercial advertisers. 

Marco Le Moglie, Giuseppe Sorrenti, 01 August 2020

Criminal organisations invest vast sums of money within the legal economies of many countries worldwide. These investments provide criminal organisations with a powerful tool to raise forms of social consensus in some portions of the population. This column provides a characterisation of organised crime’s investment in Italy’s legal economy, a country historically plagued by the presence of criminal groups. The results indicate that during periods of economic and social downturn, organised crime may capitalise on the weaknesses of the institutional response to the crisis, consolidating and possibly expanding, its role as an investor in the legal economy.

Jay Pil Choi, Taiji Furusawa, Jota Ishikawa, 26 June 2020

To address the issue of tax avoidance by multinational enterprises, governments impose transfer-pricing rules to control transfer-price manipulation. Using a theoretical framework allowing for the possibility of profit shifting, this column explores the interplay between transfer-pricing regulations and tax competition. It finds that the nature of tax competition can depend on the tightness of transfer-pricing regulation, and a tax-haven country does not always prefer lax transfer-pricing regulation. Thus, the incentives of the host and FDI source country can be aligned to set up global regulatory standards for transfer pricing.

Stephen P. Ferris, Jan Hanousek, Jiri Tresl, 30 April 2020

Corporation corruption is an issue that remains at the forefront of regulatory policy. This column examines the persistence of corruption among a sample of privately held firms from 12 Central and Eastern European countries. Creating a proxy for corporate corruption based on a firm’s internal inefficiency, it is suggested that corruption can enhance a firm’s overall profitability. A channel analysis reveals that inflating staff costs is the most common approach by which firms divert funds to finance corruption. Corruption may persist simply because of its ability to improve a firm’s return on assets.

Ester Faia, Maximilian Mayer, Vincenzo Pezone, 26 April 2020

Directors of corporations often sit on several boards at once. This column asks whether this connectivity is beneficial for firm value (due to a wider network of knowledge sharing), or if it is simply crony-capitalism built on a deep exclusivity at the board level. Exploiting data from Italy, the authors suggest that network centrality may not always translate into a gain for consumers, and that policymakers must be cautious in accommodating the appropriate reactions for cases that may have different implications for consumer welfare.

Anniek de Ruijter, Roel Beetsma, Brian Burgoon, Francesco Nicoli, Frank Vandenbroucke, 26 March 2020

An initiative to create centralised control of medical countermeasures at the EU level would solve many coordination issues in times of crisis. However, a unified European response faces a number of legal and political obstacles. This column uses a survey conducted before the COVID-19 outbreak to understand EU citizens’ attitudes towards a joint solidarity programme. It suggests considerable support already exists for an effective policy framework centralising the procurement, stockpiling, and allocation of medicines. 

Ozlem Akin, José M. Marín, José-Luis Peydró, 18 March 2020

There is a broad discussion surrounding the excessive risk-taking by banks and whether this constitutes a reliable early warning signal for future banking problems. This column presents evidence that many top executives of US banks sold their own shares in the buildup to the Global Crisis. This trends appears to be stronger for banks with higher real estate exposure, and weaker for independent directors or middle officers. Although the top bankers in riskier banks sold more shares, thus furthering their own interests, they did not reduce bank risk exposure.

Mikkel Hermansen, 15 March 2020

More than a fifth of American workers are required to hold an occupational licence to do their job, usually with the aim of protecting public health and safety. However, secular declines in job mobility, business dynamics, and productivity growth have raised concerns over the costs of licensing and its potential influence on these trends. Using novel administrative data with nearly complete employment coverage, this column presents suggestive evidence of sizeable effects of licensing on job mobility, especially on job-to-job flows across states. 

Maryam Malakotipour, Enrico Perotti, Rolef de Weijs, 24 February 2020

In 2019 the EU published its directive on bankruptcy reform, which national parliaments must now consider. This column argues the Relative Priority Rule that the reforms propose is unfair, would reduce financial stability, and may lead to a regulatory race to the bottom. The rule would aggravate risk-taking because returns would be captured by shareholders while losses would be borne by unsecured creditors. 

Yong Suk Lee, Benjamin Cedric Larsen, Michael Webb, Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, 14 December 2019

As artificial intelligence becomes more widespread and its performance improves, it will likely have significant long-term consequences for jobs, inequality, organisations, and competition. Regulation may be used to address its risks and possibilities, but little is known about how AI-related regulation might affect firm behaviour. This column examines the impact of actual and potential AI regulations on business managers through a randomised online survey experiment. It finds that exposure to information about regulation decreases managers’ reported intent to adopt AI technologies in their firm’s business processes.

Thorsten Kaeseberg, 12 December 2019

The agendas and roadmaps for the future of digital policy in Europe have been debated extensively. This column proposes a menu of different policy instruments for the new European Commission in order to achieve this transformation. These include reforming the framework of the e-commerce Directive, regulating super-dominant digital platforms, facilitating data intermediaries as counter-balancing actors, facilitating the rise of European platforms, and pushing blockchain. 

Luciano Somoza, Tammaro Terracciano, 03 December 2019

Policymakers are concerned about the stability of private digital currencies and protecting the consumers who use them. This column, part of VoxEU debate on the future of digital money, proposes locking stablecoins into an ETF-like structure with restrictions on basket composition. Stablecoin providers would be functionally similar to ETF sponsors, and stablecoins would become a new vehicle for traditional fiat currencies. 

Orkun Saka, Nauro Campos, Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, Angelo Martelli, 25 June 2019

Financial crises play a key role in changing existing policies concerning financial markets and institutions. This column provides new evidence for the negative impact of financial crises on the process of financial liberalisation. It also shows, however, that such interventions are only temporary and that the liberalisation process resumes quickly after a crisis. These results support the view that governments use short-term policy reversals as a tool to ease crisis pressures.

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.

Vitezslav Titl, Benny Geys, 13 January 2019

Despite public concerns about the role and influence of big donors on politics, questions remain regarding the mechanisms behind political favouritism to donor corporations. Using 2006–2014 data on political donations and public procurement allocations in the Czech Republic, this column finds that firms that increase their donations to a political party see the value of their public procurement contracts rise in the following year. Contracting authorities appear to engage in different forms of strategic behaviour to favour corporate donors, who tend to face fewer competitors in more regulated and open procurement procedures.

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.

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