Jiangtao Fu, Daichi Shimamoto, Yasuyuki Todo, 01 December 2015

It has been widely argued that firms obtain loans with relaxed terms if they are politically connected. This column presents evidence from Indonesia that firms whose owners or directors have a personal relationship with a politician are more likely to have their loans approved by state-owned banks, and are more likely to receive the full amount applied for. However, the labour productivity of such firms is on average lower. This suggests that in some cases, politically connected lending may distort the efficiency of resource allocation and be detrimental to economic development.

Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 20 November 2015

Human development provides a long-run view of well-being. This column presents a new historical index of human development covering 157 countries from the mid-19th century. The index gives a comprehensive view on human development on the global scale, and stresses the health and knowledge dimensions of well-being.

Daron Acemoglu, Murat Üçer, 18 November 2015

Following an anaemic performance with severe imbalances in the 1990s and a debilitating financial crisis in 2001, Turkey enjoyed a period of rapid economic growth. Since about 2007 onwards, however, economic growth has slowed significantly and productivity growth has stagnated. This column argues that, rather than providing another example of the ‘stop-and-go’ cycles typical of emerging economies, the Turkish economy's ups and downs during this era reflect institutional improvements in the immediate aftermath of its financial crisis, followed by an ominous slide in the quality of these economic and political institutions.

Maya Eden, Paul Gaggl, 23 October 2015

Conventional wisdom suggests that there is too little ICT capital in poor countries and evidence show that they are indeed relatively less ICT abundant. This column discusses new evidence that this variation is not unwarranted – deviations from an estimated baseline level of ICT capital are not correlated with per capita income. This suggests that there are no systematic barriers to ICT adoption in low-income countries. They have less ICT capital since their economies are different.

Axel Dreher, Vera Eichenauer, Kai Gehring, Sarah Langlotz, Steffen Lohmann, 18 October 2015

There is no consensus on whether foreign aid is effective in boosting the economy of the recipient country. This column suggests that there is no evidence that aid affects growth. This finding does not imply that aid is necessarily ineffective. Much of the aid is not given to affect growth in the first place, but as humanitarian aid following disasters, to fight terror, please political allies, or influence decisions in important international organisations. Such aid should thus be evaluated with its own goals in mind.

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