Most Popular Content

A tale of two depressions: What do the new data tell us? February 2010 update

Barry Eichengreen, Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke, 8 March 2010

This column updates the original Vox columns by Barry Eichengreen and Kevin O’Rourke comparing today’s global crisis to the Great Depression. The three previous columns have shattered all Vox readership records with over 450,000 views. This latest edition covers up to February 2010 showing that, while there is cause for optimism, there is no room for complacency.

Educated in America: College graduates and high school dropouts

James J. Heckman, Paul A. LaFontaine, 13 February 2008

Official statistics for US high school graduation rates mask a growing educational divide. This column presents research showing that a record number of Americans are going to university – while an increasing number are dropping out of high school. This poses major social challenges for the United States.

Eurozone breakup would trigger the mother of all financial crises

Barry Eichengreen, 4 May 2010

Originally posted 17 November 2007, this Vox column is more relevant than ever arguing that adopting the euro is effectively irreversible. Leaving would require lengthy preparations, which, given the anticipated devaluation, would trigger the mother of all financial crises. National households and firms would shift deposits to other Eurozone banks producing a system-wide bank run. Investors, trying to escape, would create a bond-market crisis. Here is what the train wreck would look like.

Panic-driven austerity in the Eurozone and its implications

Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, 21 February 2013

Eurozone policy seems driven by market sentiment. This column argues that fear and panic led to excessive, and possibly self-defeating, austerity in the south while failing to induce offsetting stimulus in the north. The resulting deflation bias produced the double-dip recession and perhaps more dire consequences. As it becomes obvious that austerity produces unnecessary suffering, millions may seek liberation from ‘euro shackles’.

Debt, deleveraging, and the liquidity trap: A new model

Paul Krugman, 18 November 2010

Debt is the crux of advanced economies’ current policy debates. Some argue for fiscal expansion to avoid recession and deflation. Others claim that you can’t solve a debt-created problem with more debt. This column explains the core logic of a new model by Eggertsson and Krugman in which debt shocks and policy reactions can be examined. Relying on heterogeneous agents, the model naturally produces the paradox of thrift but also finds new supply-side paradoxes, those of toil and flexibility. The model suggests that most economists have been misthinking the issues and that actual policy in the US and EU is misguided.

Are Germans really poorer than Spaniards, Italians and Greeks?

Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, 16 April 2013

A recent ECB household-wealth survey was interpreted by the media as evidence that poor Germans shouldn’t have to pay for southern Europe. This column takes a look at the numbers. Whilst it’s true that median German households are poor compared to their southern European counterparts, Germany itself is wealthy. Importantly, this wealth is very unequally distributed, but the issue of unequal distribution doesn’t feature much in the press. The debate in Germany creates an inaccurate perception among less wealthy Germans that transfers are unfair.

Why was the Industrial Revolution British?

Robert C. Allen, 15 May 2009

It is still not clear among economic historians why the Industrial Revolution actually took place in 18th century Britain. This column explains that it is the British Empire’s success in international trade that created Britain’s high wage, cheap energy economy, and it was the spring board for the Industrial Revolution.

Five decades of evidence on financial crisis and recession: How long? How deep?

Marco E Terrones, M Ayhan Kose, Stijn Claessens, 7 October 2008

The house and equity price busts on top of a credit crunch make this an unprecedented crisis for the modern US economy; its real economy effects are thus difficult to assess. This column provides insights based on evidence from 122 recessions in 21 advanced nations since 1960. Findings suggest recessions in such circumstances are much costlier and slightly longer. But the outcome can be affected by policy, and it’s high time that policymakers act swiftly and decisively.

Trade and inequality, revisited

Paul Krugman, 15 June 2007

It’s no longer safe to assert that trade’s impact on the income distribution in wealthy countries is fairly minor. There’s a good case that it is big, and getting bigger. I’m not endorsing protectionism, but free-traders need better answers to the anxieties of globalisation’s losers.

Slave trade and African underdevelopment

Nathan Nunn, 8 December 2007

Slavery, according to historical accounts, played an important role in Africa’s underdevelopment. It fostered ethnic fractionalisation and undermined effective states. The largest numbers of slaves were taken from areas that were the most underdeveloped politically at the end of the 19th century and are the most ethnically fragmented today. Recent research suggests that without the slave trades, 72% of Africa’s income gap with the rest of the world would not exist today.

Subprime 'crisis': FAQs (revised & updated)

Stephen Cecchetti, 15 August 2007

A revised and updated version of the 13 August column on the basic how's and why's of what the Fed has been doing to calm financial markets.

Subprime crisis: causes, consequences and cures

Carmen M Reinhart, 15 March 2008

We may just have started to feel the pain. Asset price drops – including housing – are common markers in all the big banking crises over the past 30 years. GDP declines after such crises were both large (-2% on average) and protracted (2 years to return to trend); in the 5 biggest crises, the numbers were -5% and 3 years. This column, based on the author’s testimony to the Congress, picks through the causes and consequences. It argues that when it comes to ‘cures,’ it would be far better to get the job done right than get the job done quickly.

Colonialism and development in Africa

Leander Heldring, James A Robinson, 10 January 2013

Most of Africa spent two generations under colonial rule. This column argues that, contrary to some recent commentaries highlighting the benefits of colonialism, it is this intense experience that has significantly retarded economic development across the continent. Relative to any plausible counterfactual, Africa is poorer today than it would have been had colonialism not occurred.

No, the Bundesbank has not reached its limit

Karl Whelan, 12 December 2011

A recent Vox column argues that the Bundesbank is selling off assets to lend to peripheral central banks, that this process is about to end, and the result will be a catastrophe. This column argues that such claims are based on a misrepresentation of the Bundesbank’s accounts and a misunderstanding of ECB monetary policy. The Eurozone may be in crisis but for entirely different reasons.

The euro could surpass the dollar within ten years

Jeffrey Frankel, 18 March 2008

One of the world’s leading international economists explains how the euro could surpass the dollar as the premier international currency and examines the geopolitical implications of such a shift.

Rescuing our jobs and savings: What G7/8 leaders can do to solve the global credit crisis

Barry Eichengreen, Richard Baldwin, 9 October 2008

Without rapid and coordinated action by G7/8 leaders, this financial crisis could turn into a jobs crisis, a pension crisis and much more. This column introduces a collection of essays by leading economists on what the G7/8 leaders should do this weekend. The dozen essays present a remarkable consensus on a few points: we need immediate, coordinated global action that includes recapitalisation of the banks.

Parametric estimations of the world distribution of income

Xavier Sala-i-Martin, Maxim Pinkovskiy, 22 January 2010

World poverty is falling. This column presents new estimates of the world’s income distribution and suggests that world poverty is disappearing faster than previously thought. From 1970 to 2006, poverty fell by 86% in South Asia, 73% in Latin America, 39% in the Middle East, and 20% in Africa. Barring a catastrophe, there will never be more than a billion people in poverty in the future history of the world.

Economic crisis in Europe: Cause, consequences, and responses

István P. Székely, Paul van den Noord, 6 October 2009

The European economy is in its deepest recession since the 1930s. This column says that swift policy response avoided a financial meltdown, but turning the ongoing recovery into sustained growth requires action on five challenges: boosting potential output, enhancing labour market flexibility, preparing fiscal consolidation, facilitating intra-EU adjustment, and unwinding global imbalances. Europe also needs an improved crisis-management framework, lest this happen again.

How bad could the crisis get? Lessons from Iceland

Jon Danielsson, 12 November 2008

Iceland’s banking system is ruined. GDP is down 65% in euro terms. Many companies face bankruptcy; others think of moving abroad. A third of the population is considering emigration. The British and Dutch governments demand compensation, amounting to over 100% of Icelandic GDP, for their citizens who held high-interest deposits in local branches of Icelandic banks. Europe’s leaders urgently need to take step to prevent similar things from happening to small nations with big banking sectors.

The mystery of Chinese savings

Shang-Jin Wei, 6 February 2010

What is the connection between China’s one-child policy and its savings glut? This column provides a pioneering explanation. China’s surplus of men has produced a highly competitive marriage market, driving up China’s savings rate and, therefore, global imbalances.

The effects of school-starting age

Sandra E. Black, Paul Devereux, Kjell G. Salvanes, 21 June 2008

Do children do better if they start school later? Contrary to the great concerns of many parents, this column says that the age at which kids start school matters little.

Subprime ‘crisis’: FAQs

Stephen Cecchetti, 13 August 2007

Here are the basic how's and why's of what the Fed has been doing to calm financial markets.

Why did the bankers behave so badly?

Anne Sibert, 18 May 2009

Greedy bankers are getting most of the blame for the current financial crisis. This column explains bankers did behave badly for mainly three reasons. They committed cognitive errors involving biases towards their own prior beliefs; too many male bankers high on testosterone took too much risk, and a flawed compensation structure rewarded perceived short-term competency rather than long-run results.

The protectionist temptation: Lessons from the Great Depression for today

Barry Eichengreen, Douglas Irwin, 17 March 2009

What do we know about the spread of protectionism during the Great Depression and what are the implications for today’s crisis? This column says the lesson is that countries should coordinate their fiscal and monetary measures. If some do and some don’t, the trade policy consequences could once again be most unfortunate.

Information technology and economic change: The impact of the printing press

Jeremiah Dittmar, 11 February 2011

Despite the revolutionary technological advance of the printing press in the 15th century, there is precious little economic evidence of its benefits. Using data on 200 European cities between 1450 and 1600, this column finds that economic growth was higher by as much as 60 percentage points in cities that adopted the technology.

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