Retailing has experienced disruptive technology progress in recent decades – what might be called Walmartisation. This column explains how the entry of global retail chains may transform the retail sector and the supplying industries in the host economies. Focusing on the Romanian case, it shows that a 10% increase in the number of foreign chains’ outlets is associated with a 2.4% to 2.6% increase in the productivity in the supplying industries.
The ‘neutral’ rate is the real interest that is consistent with stable inflation and narrow output gaps. This column discusses the various estimation techniques and presents estimates for a range of Latin American nations. No methodology is fully correct: central banks must still make a subjective judgement, but econometrics can significantly help to inform it.
Advertising is expensive and thus raises the cost of goods, but it may encourage competition that keeps prices down. This column addresses the old question with data from a natural experiment brought about by tax harmonisation in Austria. It argues that on average advertising decreases consumer prices and estimates that if the 5% tax were abolished, consumer prices would decrease by about 0.25 percentage points.
Consumer surplus in any market equals the area between the demand curve and the industry marginal-revenue curve. This column argues this observation has powerful implications for understanding rent seeking and price controls. For example, a price control reduces consumer surplus in an otherwise-competitive market with convex demand whenever supply is more elastic than demand.
Risk-taking by banks played a critical role in the global crisis and Eurozone crisis. This column introduces a new eReport that focuses on four aspects of excessive risk-taking by banks, highlighting the causes and the cures. The eReport applies the best available theory and data, bringing together the main insights and views that have emerged from the crisis.
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Reichlin, Baldwin, 14 April 2013