Sascha O. Becker, Marc Muendler, 06 February 2016

Offshoring and global value chains have reshaped global trade patterns. This column describes how the German economy has been exposed to significant offshoring for at least three decades. The authors find an increasing importance of high-end tasks in the country. Organising and consulting activities under deadlines, changing business conditions, and tougher performance standards are an increasingly common reality in German workplaces. Labour market institutions in German trade partners are largely unrelated to the changing content of German imports.

Yin-Wong Cheung , Sven Steinkamp, Frank Westermann, 27 January 2016

Since the beginning of the Global Crisis, illicit capital flows out of China have been in decline. This column argues that a key factor behind this is the relative money supply between China and the US. China’s rapidly increasing money supply, combined with the Fed’s expansionary monetary policy, prompted investors to reallocate their portfolios between the two countries. Another contributing factor is China’s gradual process of capital account liberalisation. The Fed’s interest rate hike in December may see a resurgence in China’s capital flight.

Pierre-Louis Vézina, David von Below, 20 January 2016

The price of oil rose to unprecedented highs in the 2000s, and its recent plunge took many by surprise. Although there are many consequences of such price fluctuations on the world economy, they are notoriously difficult to pin down. This column examines the trade consequences of varying shipping costs caused by oil price fluctuations. High oil prices are found to increase the distance elasticity of trade, making trade less global. The recent drop in oil prices could thus be a boon for globalisation. 

Konstantins Benkovskis, Julia Woerz, 14 January 2016

Global value chains have increased the complexity of good economic analysis no end. This column assess the extent to which global value chains change how we think about the world, and argues that the evolution of global market shares is no longer an adequate indicator of a country’s competitiveness in most cases. ‘Made in China’ has changed almost everything.

Joon H. Lee , 20 December 2015

Globalisation in the form of offshoring can impact the domestic labour market. This column investigates how offshoring affects workers based on their contract type. The findings indicate that the wages of South Korean manufacturing workers increase as offshoring increases, but that this impact is significantly weaker for temporary workers. One potential channel for globalisation to exacerbate inequality is therefore the contract type.

Juan Carluccio, Alejandro Cuñat, Harald Fadinger, Christian Fons-Rosen, 14 December 2015

The increase in the skill premium – wages of skilled workers relative to unskilled workers – has prompted research on its causes and potential remedies. This column presents new evidence suggesting that the impact of globalisation on the income distribution in industrialised countries is much stronger than initially thought. The productivity gains from having access to cheaper inputs through offshoring are not being distributed equally between the different economic actors in our rich societies.

Italo Colantone, Rosario Crinò, Laura Ogliari, 04 December 2015

Influential studies have shown that trade liberalisation is associated with substantial adjustment costs for workers in import-competing jobs. This column uses UK data to shed light on one such cost that has not been considered to date – subjective well-being. Import competition is found to substantially raise mental distress, through worsened labour market conditions and increased stress on the job. These findings provide evidence of an important hidden cost of globalisation.

Laura Alfaro, Pol Antràs, Davin Chor, Paola Conconi, 14 November 2015

Trade in intermediate inputs now accounts for as much as two-thirds of international trade. Firms must decide which segments of their production processes to own and which to outsource. Using global plant-level data, this column empirically examines firms’ organisational choices along value chains. Decisions to integrate or outsource upstream and downstream functions are found to depend on demand elasticity relative to the substitutability of inputs. These results provide strong evidence that integration decisions are driven by contractual frictions.

Petr Matous, Yasuyuki Todo, 16 June 2015

Japanese business groups, or keiretsu – cartels of companies with interlocking interests – have contributed much to the success of Japanese manufacturing in the 20th century. This column explores the future of this form of corporate governance, amid increasing calls for their dissolution. An examination of trade networks in the automotive industry shows that automakers no longer exhibit a preference for dealing with keiretsu partners. Globalisation, procurement scandals, and advances in modularisation have helped to erode the benefits of these long-term relationships.

Esther Ann Bøler, Beata Javorcik, Karen-Helene Ulltveit-Moe, 18 May 2015

The gender wage gap persists even in gender equal societies such as the Nordic countries. This column suggests that globalisation may play a role in that. The authors show that exporting firms have higher gender wage gaps although the effect is only present among college graduates. The heightened competition faced by exporters requires greater commitment and flexibility on the part of the workers, which leads to statistical gender discrimination.

Michael Huberman, Christopher M. Meissner, Kim Oosterlinck, 06 February 2015

Understanding the relationship between trade and growth is still at the core of the economics profession. This column seeks to identify the pathways by which globalisation affects economic growth looking at the case of Belgium in the decades preceding the First World War. It argues that the collapse in fixed export costs promoted the entry of uncompetitive firms into export markets and as the trade component of GDP rose, the share of high performing firms contracted, slowing growth.

Ian Goldin, 21 November 2014

Global hyperconnectivity and increased system integration have led to vast benefits in terms of income, education, innovation and technology. Yet globalisation has also created serious concerns about how local events can so easily cascade over national borders to become crises that affect everyone. This Vox Talk discusses the widening gap between systemic risks and their effective management. Goldin argues that the new dynamics and complexities of globalisation are endemic and will potentially destabilise our societies unless they are addressed immediately and more effectively.

Dalia Marin , 15 November 2014

Recent advances in artificial intelligence could affect manufacturing and the labour markets in a number of ways. This column explores two of them. First, it finds no confirmation that machines have decreased the cost of labour and brought manufacturing back to rich countries. Second, it argues that machines could replace highly skilled workers rather than increase the demand for their labour. Technology and skills are thus substitutes not complements.

Charles A.E. Goodhart, Philipp Erfurth, 04 November 2014

Most of the world is now at the point where the support ratio is becoming adverse, and the growth of the global workforce is slowing. This column argues that these changes will have profound and negative effects on economic growth. This implies that negative real interest rates are not the new normal, but rather an extreme artefact of a series of trends, several of which are coming to an end. By 2025, real interest rates should have returned to their historical equilibrium value of around 2.5–3%.

Charles A.E. Goodhart, Philipp Erfurth, 03 November 2014

There has been a long-term downward trend in labour’s share of national income, depressing both demand and inflation, and thus prompting ever more expansionary monetary policies. This column argues that, while understandable in a short-term business cycle context, this has exacerbated longer-term trends, increasing inequality and financial distortions. Perhaps the most fundamental problem has been over-reliance on debt finance. The authors propose policies to raise the share of equity finance in housing markets; such reforms could be extended to other sectors of the economy.

Patricia Ellen, Jaana Remes, 12 July 2014

Brazil has grown rapidly and reduced poverty over the past decade, but it has grown more slowly than other emerging economies and its income per capita remains relatively low by global standards. This column points out that sectors of the Brazilian economy that have been opened up to international competition have outperformed those that remain heavily protected. Deeper integration into global markets and value chains could provide competitive pressures that would improve Brazil’s productivity and living standards.

Bernhard Dachs, Georg Zahradnik, 06 July 2014

The Global Crisis brought a halt to three decades of R&D internationalisation, in which foreign firms’ share of total R&D expenditure had increased in almost all countries where data is available. However, this column argues that the crisis did not lead to a new global distribution of overseas R&D expenditure, despite the erosion of the EU’s share. The persistence of R&D expenditure is attributed to the costs of relocating R&D and to the autonomy of foreign subsidiaries.

Kerem Cosar, Nezih Guner, James R Tybout, 07 July 2014

Trade liberalisations are often accompanied by labour market reforms, making it difficult to isolate their effects. This column discusses the effects of trade liberalisation, globalisation, and labour-market reforms on the Colombian labour market. Reduced trade frictions increased cross-firm wage inequality and shifted the firm-size distribution rightward, with offsetting effects on overall wage inequality. Average income increased, but the gains were concentrated among employees of large, productive firms with access to export markets. Greater trade openness also increased job turnover.

Christoph Lakner , Branko Milanovic, 27 May 2014

Since 1988, rapid growth in Asia has lifted billions out of poverty. Incomes at the very top of the world income distribution have also grown rapidly, whereas median incomes in rich countries have grown much more slowly. This column asks whether these developments, while reducing global income inequality overall, might undermine democracy in rich countries.

Amparo Castelló-Climent, Rafael Doménech, 23 April 2014

Most developing countries have made a great effort to eradicate illiteracy. As a result, the inequality in the distribution of education has been reduced by more than half from 1950 to 2010. However, inequality in the distribution of income has hardly changed. This column presents evidence from a new dataset on human capital inequality. The authors find that increasing returns to education, globalisation, and skill-biased technological change can explain why the fall in human capital inequality has not been sufficient to reduce income inequality.