Financial markets

Ian Fillmore, 04 March 2015

Colleges in the US charge high sticker prices but routinely offer discounts to individual students. This column presents research showing that colleges use a student’s federal aid form to learn about willingness-to-pay and to engage in substantial price discrimination in a way that amounts to a tax on income, with the primary effect of increasing tuition revenues. Nevertheless, the price discrimination also results in some redistribution to low-income students as well as a modest increase in student–college match quality.

Sebastian Edwards, 04 March 2015

There were 24 sovereign defaults and debt restructurings between 1997 and 2013. Using data on 180 debt restructurings – for both sovereign bonds and sovereign syndicated bank loans – this column argues that the roughly 75% ‘haircut’ Argentina imposed on its creditors in 2005 was an outlier. Greece’s ‘haircut’ of roughly 64% in 2012, by contrast, was in line with previous experience.

Brian Bell, Anna Bindler, Stephen Machin, 04 March 2015

Recessions can lead to an increase in youth unemployment, which could later negatively affect labour market outcomes. This column explores the effect of recessions on criminal activity. The findings indicate a substantial effect on initiating and forming youth careers. There is initially strong and eventually long-lasting detrimental effect of entering the labour market during a recession for individuals at the threshold of criminal activity. These effects are economically substantial and potentially more disturbing than short-run effects.

Alan J Auerbach, Kevin Hassett, 03 March 2015

Piketty's justification for his proposed wealth tax relies on the notion that the rate of return on capital exceeds economic growth. This column challenges this basis, arguing that it fails to account for risk. The authors also examine the relative merits of a consumption tax, which may be more valid.

Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, Yannis Psycharis, Vassilis Tselios, 03 March 2015

Electoral results and the geographical allocation of public investment in Greece have been intimately related. This column describes how incumbent Greek governments between 1975 and 2009 tended to reward those constituencies returning them to office. Increases in both the absolute and relative electoral returns for the party in government in a given Greek region were traditionally repaid with a greater level of per capita investment in that region. Single-member constituencies were the greatest beneficiaries of this type of pork-barrel politics.

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