Judging under public pressure

In many settings, independent decision makers employed to make determinations in disputes or contests between parties can be subject to public pressure  This column examines the extent to which crowd pressure affects referees’ decisions in Germany’s top football division, exploiting the introduction of video technology as well as the absence of crowds during the Covic-19 pandemic. It finds no evidence of bias in awarding goals or penalties, but a tendency for bias towards the home team when deciding whether or not to issue a yellow card, which disappears in the absence of a crowd. 

Inequality is an urban affair, and it’s due to new tech

The adoption of information technology can cause polarisation in the labour market via the displacement of routine cognitive jobs. This column uses data on over 200,000 firms in the US from 1990 to 2015 to show that the labour savings from IT are largest in big cities and metropolitan areas, where wages are higher, so urban firms have the biggest incentives to invest in these technologies. This in turn leads to the polarisation of occupations across geography and accounts for the rise in wage inequality within cities.

Natural experimenters: Nobel laureates David Card, Joshua Angrist, and Guido Imbens

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences has been awarded to David Card of the University of California, Berkeley, “for his empirical contributions to labour economics”, and to Joshua Angrist of MIT and Guido Imbens of Stanford University “for their methodological contributions to the analysis of causal relationships”. This column explains how the use of natural experiments in empirical economics has ushered in much progress in the analysis of causal relationships.

How highways shape regional disparities

The development of the Swiss highway network from 1960 to 2010 influenced the residential and job compositions of municipalities. The advent of an entrance/exit ramp within 10 km of a municipality caused a long-term 24% increase in the share of top-income taxpayers. The welfare gains of residents of connected municipalities relative to residents in non-connected municipalities range from only 2% for the low-income group to 12% for the top-income group. Highways also contributed to job and residential urban sprawl.

Strengthening semiconductor manufacturing

During the COVID-19 pandemic many countries experienced difficulty obtaining the semiconductors that are vital for smartphones, computers, cars, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and many other applications. This column looks at how Asia gained comparative advantage in this sector and identifies lessons for countries seeking to promote domestic semiconductor manufacturing.

Rethinking financial globalisation

Even after their role in the global financial crisis, globalised, minimally regulated financial markets are still regarded as inevitable and, on balance, good for us. Maurice Obstfeld of Berkeley tells Tim Phillips about the short but action-packed history of financial globalisation and asks whether we should be rethinking this aspect of capitalism too.
Read more about the research presented and download the free discussion paper:
Obstfeld, M. 2021. 'The Global Capital Market Reconsidered'. CEPR

Globalization and Its Big Data: The Historical Record in Financial Markets

One revolutionary consequence of the expansion of digital technologies is their ability to change the fabric of capitalism: As they harvest enormous amounts of data, “Big Tech” firms are becoming more like banks. For instance, if the traces left by our individual pathways as we navigate the internet reveal more about our ability to repay than our credit score, then chances are that Big Tech firms will be tomorrow’s lenders. The information revolution occurring these days is a revolution of the financial system.

Ageing and the real interest rate in Japan

The Japanese economy has experienced a prolonged slowdown in growth and persistent declines in the real interest rate, while at the same time the country’s labour force has been rapidly ageing. This column explores a novel causal link between the ageing labour force and the low-frequency declining trend in the real interest rate since the 1970s, and suggests that the ageing of the labour force accounts for 40% or more of the declines in the real interest rate observed between the 1980s and 2000s in Japan.

ECB monetary policy and catch-up inflation

In July, the ECB issued its first Strategic Review since 2003. The latest CfM-CEPR survey investigates one component of the announced policy shift: the new definition of price stability. Most members of the panel of experts on the European economy support the ECB explicitly allowing inflation to exceed its target for extended periods to make up for below-target inflation in the past. This 60% majority has divided views on the optimal alternative policies, with the largest share supporting average inflation targeting and some members supporting nominal GDP targeting or hybrid policies.


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