Institutions and economics

Christopher Findlay, Silvia Sorescu, Camilo Umana Dajud, 29 August 2014

Countries facing rising risk premiums on their debt have recognised the need for structural reform, but some politicians have argued that austerity is necessary in the short run because structural reform takes too long. This column argues that financial markets can bring forward the benefits of structural reform, and therefore that such reforms should be given greater weight in the package of crisis responses.

Esteban R Vesperoni, Emil Stavrev, Sebastian Weber, 28 August 2014

As prospects in key advanced economies improve, financial conditions will tighten. The effect of outward spillovers from source countries to emerging markets will depend on whether financial conditions are driven by stronger growth (real shocks) or unexpected tightening in financial conditions (money shocks) –  including those due to financial stability concerns or market uncertainty about the exit path. From a recipient’s perspective, spillovers will also differ across countries – reflecting interactions between domestic fundamentals and policies with the external shock.

Reinhilde Veugelers, 28 August 2014

The Crisis affected public spending. Research and innovation is one area often highlighted as needing protection. This column does not find strong evidence that European countries sacrificed research and innovation more than other government expenditure. However, there is strong heterogeneity across countries. Innovation lagging and fiscally weak countries cut R&I spending while innovation-leading forged it ahead. Research of this divide and long-term growth is still limited.

Nicholas Crafts, 27 August 2014

It is well-known that World War I was expensive for Britain.  The indirect economic costs were also huge.  This column argues that the adverse implications of the Great War for post-war unemployment and trade – together with the legacy of a greatly increased national debt – significantly reduced the level of real GDP throughout the 1920s.  A ballpark calculation suggests the loss of GDP during this period roughly doubled the total costs of the war to Britain.

Masayuki Morikawa, 26 August 2014

Headquarters play important strategic roles in modern companies, but downsizing of headquarters is often advocated as a cost-cutting measure. This column presents evidence from Japanese firm-level data that headquarters size is positively associated with firms’ overall productivity. Moreover, the benefits of ICT are greater for companies with relatively large headquarters. Downsizing headquarters to cut costs may thus be harmful for long-term company performance.

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