Mark Hoekstra, Jonathan Meer, Steve Puller, Jeremy West, 15 July 2015

A primary policy tool for reducing pollution from motor vehicles in the US is to directly regulate fuel efficiency. This column investigates whether drivers respond to increased fuel efficiency standards by driving more. The evidence from a stimulus programme shows that households did not increase their driving due to increased fuel efficiency regulations, but they purchased smaller, cheaper, and less powerful vehicles.

Áureo de Paula, John Lynham, Timothy Halliday, 22 June 2015

For policy to target air pollution optimally, a thorough understanding of its harms is required. However, disentangling the health effects of specific pollutants has proved challenging, as multiple chemicals tend to co-occur in industrial pollution. This column exploits volcanic emissions in Hawaii to examine the health impact of a specific pollutant – airborne particulates. Short-term exposure to particulate pollution is found to increase pulmonary-related hospitalisations and expenditures, particularly among very young children. 

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.

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