Why the US and EU are failing to set information free
Susan Ariel Aaronson14 July 2014
The internet promotes educational, technological, and scientific progress, but governments sometimes choose to control the flow of information for national security reasons, or to protect privacy or intellectual property. This column highlights the use of trade rules to regulate the flow of information, and describes how the EU, the US, and their negotiating partners have been unable to find common ground on these issues. Trade agreements have yet to set information free, and may in fact be making it less free.
Tim Berners-Lee, the architect of the World Wide Web, taught us that the internet we have is a function of the choices we (users, companies, policymakers, etc.) make about information flows. For example, in 1995, Berners-Lee chose not to patent his work on the World Wide Web because he feared patenting it could limit its universality and openness. He continues to advocate this. In March 2014, he called for an online bill of rights and created a new organisation to ensure that the web would remain the “web we want” – open, free, and neutral.
Alessandro Beber, Michael W Brandt, Maurizio Luisi19 April 2013
Timely measurement of the state of the economy traditionally relies on low-frequency observations of a few economic aggregates referring to previous weeks, months, or even quarters. This column presents a new method of a real-time approach to timely and more accurate macroeconomic news.
Timely measurement of the state of the economy relies traditionally on low-frequency observations of a few economic aggregates that refer to previous weeks, months, or even quarters. A prominent example is the advance estimate of GDP released quarterly about a month after the end of the quarter.
To cut or not to cut, that is the (central banks') question: In search of neutral interest rates in Latin America
Nicolas Magud, Evridiki Tsounta16 January 2013
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.
An increasing number of Latin American countries have been strengthening their monetary policy frameworks, using the monetary policy rate as their main instrument since the late 1990s. To decide whether to ease or tighten monetary conditions, policymakers typically compare the policy rate to the (short-run) neutral-interest rate – the rate that is consistent with stable inflation (at the central bank’s target) and a closed output gap. However, this rate can be time-varying as it is affected by changes in macroeconomic fundamentals and global interest rates.
For democratic theorists, the notion that greater transparency improves accountability is axiomatic: when voters find out about political corruption, they punish the offending politicians by not voting for them again. But, the authors of CEPR DP8790 argue, many voters also respond to evidence of corruption by not voting at all – indicating that more transparency might not automatically result in a healthier democratic process.
The Nobel Prize: What is mechanism design and why does it matter for policy-making?
Patrick Legros, Estelle Cantillon18 October 2007
Mechanism design theory is a major breakthrough in the modern economic analysis of institutions and markets. It revolutionalised the way economists think about optimal institutions and regulation when governments don't “know it all.” It has had a major impact on current policy-making and will continue to do so in the future.
On Monday, Leonid Hurwicz, Eric Maskin and Roger Myerson were awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Economics for their contributions to mechanism design theory. To the non-economist, mechanism design theory seems to be a highly abstract construct: technically impressive, perhaps, but with little relevance to policy and everyday life. In fact, despite its complexity and mathematical character, mechanism design is deeply embedded in policy.