Catherine Hausman, Ryan Kellogg, 15 May 2015

The economic and environmental impacts of the US fracking boom are hotly debated. This column argues that there’s been a large positive impact on the US economy, estimating that the benefits to producers and consumers totalled $48 billion in 2013, or around one-third of 1% of US GDP. The climate change impacts have been large, but they do not outweigh the private gains. However, a lack of data on the impacts to water, air, and seismic activity hamper policymakers effectively targeting the areas of greatest concern and hamper them drawing up effective regulation.

Sascha Bützer, Maurizio Michael Habib, Livio Stracca, 07 March 2015

The large dip in oil prices reverberated across asset markets, contributing to the depreciation of the Russian rouble. This column argues that the recent fall of the rouble may be more an exception than the norm. Oil shocks have only a limited impact on global exchange rate configurations, since oil exporters tend to lean against exchange rate pressures by running down or accumulating foreign exchange reserves.

Lutz Kilian, 25 February 2015

Between June and December 2014, the Brent price of crude oil fell by 44%, resulting in one of the most dramatic declines in the price of oil in recent history. This column presents a new quantitative analysis of the market for crude oil. According to the model the authors use, around half of the decline ($27) was predictable using publicly available information. A part of this decline was due to a slowdown in global economic activity, but the major part came from supply and demand shocks in the oil market. Nevertheless, there are reasons to expect the decline in oil prices to end soon.

Carlo Carraro, 07 February 2015

China and the US have recently agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This column asks what quantifiable impact the new targets will have, whether they are any better than previous approaches, and if so, whether they are enough to avoid dangerous climate change. While insufficient for keeping temperature increase below the 2°C limit, the US and China’s bilateral commitments are a step in the right direction, and form the basis for a stronger international agreement in Paris later this year.

Emmanuelle Maincent, Andras Rezessy, Mirco Tomasi, 22 January 2015

Shale gas exploitation in the US has changed the competitiveness landscape for energy intensive industries. Prices are only part of the picture. We propose an indicator – ‘Unit Energy Cost’ – reflecting productivity and the evolution of energy prices per unit consumed. The good performance of European industries can be explained by their relatively low energy intensity (high energy productivity). The US and China are catching up – this calls for renewed efforts to limit price growth, and further improvements in intensity performance.

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