The profound impact of the ICT revolution on the job market have been widely studied, but the effects of different types of technology can be heterogeneous and even contradictory. This column presents evidence that technologies providing access to stored data tend to empower front line workers, while communicative technologies put more power in the hands of managers.
While quality upgrading is always viewed positively in both policy and academic circles, little is known about the macro implications for countries of specialising in high-end varieties. This column presents evidence that high-end variety exporters are less sensitive to trade costs. This implies a greater geographic diversification of exports, which compensates for their higher sensitivity to demand shocks and smoothes aggregate volatility. It also increases export growth when business opportunities arise in distant markets.
Fixed and sunk costs are widely accepted as important determinants of export behaviour. This column argues that such costs may be shared by agglomerated collections of firms, and presents evidence of agglomeration’s effects on exporting in China. Agglomeration is more effective in low-tech sectors and land-locked areas. Surprisingly, the effect of agglomeration is different for indigenous and foreign firms.
Like all other over-the-counter derivatives markets, the UK credit default swap (CDS) market has traditionally been opaque, and important questions have been largely unanswered: How do UK CDS market participants trade? Who are the main players? And how did they behave during the financial crisis? Based on newly available transactions data, this column gives some first answers to these questions.
Households tend to smooth their consumption and that’s why expenditures do not display a large variability over time. However, the recent financial crisis has been associated with a large decrease in consumption in certain countries. This column presents evidence that a drop in income during a crisis leads to a lower short-run consumption. Furthermore, micro data analysis shows that some households are affected more than others. Thus, policy recommendations can be made only after taking household heterogeneity into account.
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