Lev Ratnovski, Luc Laeven, Hui Tong, 31 May 2014

Large banks have grown and become more involved in market-based activities since the late 1990s. This column presents evidence that large banks receive too-big-to-fail subsidies and create systemic risk, whereas economies of scale in banking are modest. Hence, some large banks may be ‘too large’ from a social perspective. Since the optimal bank size is unknown, the best policies are capital surcharges and better bank resolution and governance.

Mark Mink, Jakob de Haan, 24 May 2014

To date, much uncertainty exists about how large the spillovers would be from the default of a systemically important bank. This column shows evidence that the market values of US and EU banks hardly respond to changes in the default risk of banks that the Financial Stability Board considers globally systemically important (G-SIBs). However, changes in all G-SIBs’ default risk explain a substantial part of changes in bank market values. These findings have implications for financial-crisis management and prevention policies.

Joan Costa-i-Font, Alistair McGuire, Nebibe Varol, 10 May 2014

Generic medicines are cheaper than their branded counterparts, offering potential savings in healthcare budgets. Medicine-price regulation plays an important role in the expansion of the market for generic medicines. This column presents new evidence that higher levels of price regulation, by lowering the expected price to generic manufacturers, lead (ceteris paribus) to greater delays in generic entry.

Ali Palali, Jan van Ours, 01 May 2014

There is a robust positive association between support for cannabis liberalisation and cannabis use, but it is unclear whether users have discovered that cannabis is innocuous, or if these types are inherently more liberal regarding drug policy. This column exploits variations in opinion between current and former cannabis users to work towards establishing causality. Results suggest that supporters of liberalisation are speaking from experience rather than personal interest.

Thomas Huertas, María Nieto, 18 March 2014

The European Resolution Fund is intended to reach €55 billion – much less than the amount of public assistance required by individual institutions during the recent financial crisis. This column argues that the Resolution Fund can nevertheless be large enough if it forms part of a broader architecture resting on four pillars: prudential regulation and supervision, ‘no forbearance’, adequate ‘reserve capital’, and provision of liquidity to the bank-in-resolution. By capping the Resolution Fund, policymakers have reinforced the need to ensure that investors, not taxpayers, bear the cost of bank failures.

Jeffrey Frankel, 27 February 2014

Market-based mechanisms such as cap-and-trade can tackle externality problems more efficiently than command-and-control regulations. However, politicians in the US and Europe have retreated from cap-and-trade in recent years. This column draws a parallel between Republicans’ abandonment of market-based environmental regulation and their recent disavowal of mandatory health insurance. The author argues that in practice, the alternative to market-based regulation is not an absence of regulation, but rather the return of inefficient mandates and subsidies.

Clemens Bonner, Iman van Lelyveld, Robert Zymek, 01 November 2013

What are the determinants of banks’ liquidity holdings and how are these reshaped by liquidity regulation? Based on a sample of 7,000 banks in 30 OECD countries, this column argues that banks’ liquidity buffers are determined by a combination of both bank- and country-specific variables. The presence of liquidity regulation substitutes for most of these determinants while complementing the role of size and institutions’ disclosure requirements. The complementary nature of disclosure and liquidity requirements provides a strong rationale for considering them jointly in the design of regulation.

Alexander Schäfer, Isabel Schnabel, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 02 August 2013

Lax financial-sector regulation was the fulcrum of the Global Crisis and policymakers reacted by introducing sweeping reforms. But has it had any impact? This column reviews evidence from bank stock returns showing that four major reforms in the US and Europe have reduced bailout expectations – especially for systemic banks. The strongest effects were found for the Dodd-Frank Act (especially the Volcker rule); the German restructuring law had little effect.

Giovanni Dell'Ariccia, Rishi Goyal, Petya Koeva-Brooks, Thierry Tressel, 05 April 2013

The crisis has highlighted the need for, and difficulties with, a Eurozone banking union. This column argues that, to make a union, you need three crucial ingredients: common supervision, a single resolution mechanism, and common safety nets. The power to control and the resources to rescue must work in parallel. Eurozone leaders have taken the first critical steps, but further progress is needed to strengthen the financial architecture of the single currency.

Frédéric Robert-Nicoud, Christian Hilber, 18 March 2013

Zoning policies and land use regulations are widespread. This column presents recent research suggesting that regulations have in fact gone too far. Land use regulation is the outcome of competing property owner and land developer pressure groups, and it seems that local authorities respond well to lobbying, in addition to more traditional welfare and electoral considerations. The most over-restrictive regulation is in highly desirable places, New York and San Francisco being some of the worst offenders.

Takeo Hoshi, 23 December 2012

Rejigging financial regulation is in vogue. But, in the world of international finance, how well do different regulatory systems join up? This column argues that the US Dodd Frank Act and Basel III are, in part, incompatible and that harmonising them may lead to unintended consequences. The US ought to tread carefully here but should also try hard to maintain the spirit of better financial regulation.

Mattia Nardotto, Tommaso Valletti, Frank Verboven, 25 November 2012

In many countries, incumbent broadband providers are required to let new entrants access their network, what is called ‘local loop unbundling’ (LLU). This column uses data from the UK to ask whether such a policy stimulates broadband penetration. In contrast to what is commonly believed, local loop unbundling doesn’t provide more choice. However, it does raise both the quality of service and the speed of internet connections.

Joshua Aizenman, Ilan Noy, 21 November 2012

Are countries that have previously experienced banking crises less vulnerable to them in the future? This column argues that, in fact, previous crises might make future crises more likely. There isn’t much evidence of a learning process from past mistakes because the regulator often lags behind banking’s pace of innovation. Preparing to prevent the last crisis does not prevent the next and it seems that the ‘too big to fail’ doctrine provides cover for banks, delaying the day of adjustment.

Lucia Dalla Pellegrina, Donato Masciandaro, 17 November 2011

Following the crisis of 2008–09 a period of banking-sector vulnerability occurred in many countries. To what extent did this vulnerability result from light-touch banking regulation? This column examines the ‘unpleasant nexus’ between volatility and light-touch regulation and argues that the crisis proved that such regulation may not be able to reduce systemic risk to acceptable levels.

Wouter den Haan, 04 November 2011

Wouter den Haan of the London School of Economics talks to Viv Davies about his lead commentary in the current Vox Debate on the value of the financial sector. He argues that standard measures of the sector's economic contribution overestimate its true value to a modern economy. They also discuss the views of other notable economists, as well as how regulation could curb excesses in the sector and prevent socially negative spillovers. The interview was recorded in London on 1 November 2011. [Also read the transcript]

Wouter den Haan, 24 October 2011

This column launches a new Vox Debate titled “Why do we need a financial sector and how much should we pay for it”. The column argues standard measures of the financial sector’s economic contribution overestimate its true value to a modern economy. As such, regulation that makes it more difficult for the sector to perform some activities is not necessarily a bad thing.

Kym Anderson, Markus Brückner, 07 October 2011

Real income in sub-Saharan Africa has grown by less than 1% per year over the past half century. Yet within this dismal statistic, there is wide variation. This column explores the policy reforms that may have caused growth to flourish or stagnate.

Joan Costa-i-Font, Nebibe Varol, Alistair McGuire, 08 July 2011

Pharmaceutical price regulations make drugs more accessible to consumers – if the products are brought to market. This column explores how price regulation affects the diffusion of pharmaceutical treatments. It finds that more regulated, lower-price markets experience the longest delays in launching new medications.

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.

Mike Young, 22 January 2010

Mike Young, executive director of the Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about how Australia has responded to the big shock to its water supply – through new regulations, through technological solutions, through public education and through the introduction of market mechanisms. The interview was recorded at the Global Economic Symposium in Schleswig-Holstein in September 2009.

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