There has been a heated debate about the effectiveness of fiscal policy as a countercyclical tool but little evidence on how it can support growth. This column shows that fiscal policy can lift medium- and long-term growth in both advanced and developing economies. But all fiscal reforms are not equal in their growth dividend. Successful reforms are often part of a broader reform package and can balance the growth-equity trade-off.
Bernardin Akitoby, Sanjeev Gupta, Abdelhak Senhadji, Saturday, July 18, 2015
Tomohiko Inui, Makiko Nakamuro, Kazuma Edamura, Junko Ozawa, Saturday, May 2, 2015
In order to achieve sustainable growth, Japan should make an efficient use of its labour force. However, female labour force participation and the share of women in leading positions in Japan remain low. This column investigates the impact of board diversity on firms’ innovative activity using Japanese firm-level data. The findings suggest that board diversity is associated with innovation only for firms that have already acquired diverse management skills.
Roland Bénabou, Davide Ticchi , Andrea Vindigni, Sunday, April 19, 2015
History offers many examples of the recurring tensions between science and organized religion, but as part of the paper’s motivating evidence we also uncover a new fact: in both international and cross-state U.S. data, there is a significant and robust negative relationship between religiosity and patents per capita. Three long-term outcomes emerge. First, a "Secularization" or "Western-European" regime with declining religiosity, unimpeded science, a passive Church and high levels of taxes and transfers. Second, a "Theocratic" regime with knowledge stagnation, extreme religiosity with no modernization effort, and high public spending on religious public goods. In-between is a third, "American" regime that generally (not always) combines scientific progress and stable religiosity within a range where religious institutions engage in doctrinal adaptation.
Branko Milanovic, Roy van der Weide, Saturday, November 29, 2014
A breakthrough in understanding the link between growth and inequality came from ‘unpacking’ inequality – looking at inequality measures for different segments of the population rather than just an aggregate measure. This column presents novel research that also ‘unpacks’ growth, investigating the impact of inequality on growth for different groups across the income distribution. Inequality toward the lower end of the distribution hinders growth for the poor, but not for the rich.
David Dollar, Tatjana Kleineberg, Aart Kraay, Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Concerns about inequality are at the forefront of many policy debates. While inequality has increased in many countries over the past few decades, in others it has decreased. This column uses data from 117 countries over the past four decades to investigate the importance of such changes in inequality, as well as of overall economic growth. Whereas inequality changes in most countries have been small, differences in overall growth performance have been large. Policymakers should therefore be careful not to undermine growth in the quest for greater equality.
James Boughton, Monday, September 15, 2014
The international financial system is not working fine and reforms of regional and global institutions are much needed. This column discusses some of the transformations that the IMF could implement in order to keep pace with the changes in the world economy. One problem for the credibility of the IMF is the G20 in its current design and organisation. Institutional reforms, however, should be combined with advances in economic policy in order to promote economic growth and financial stability.
Matthijs Lof, Tuomas Malinen, Sunday, May 25, 2014
Public debt and economic growth are historically negatively correlated. This column discusses new evidence that rejects the debt-to-growth causality. After estimating the effects between debt and growth in both directions, there is no evidence that high indebtedness suppresses economic growth. The effect of growth on debt is the main driver of the negative correlation.
Angus Armstrong, Francesco Caselli, Jagjit Chadha, Wouter den Haan, Monday, April 14, 2014
Fears that the financial crisis will have a significant negative impact on long-term UK economic growth are unfounded, according to a majority of the UK macroeconomics profession surveyed by the Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM). What’s more, the inaugural CFM survey, summarised in this column, indicates some optimism about the UK’s immediate capacity for higher growth: while roughly half of the respondents share the views of the Office of Budget Responsibility, the other half is substantially more optimistic about the capacity for the economy to recover.
Iftekhar Hasan, Tuomas Takalo, Friday, January 24, 2014
Efficient retail payments are associated not only with lower direct costs but also with indirect benefits, and ultimately – with enhanced economic growth. This column presents research on different retail payment habits in the Eurozone. A correlation exists between the forms of payment in a country and its recent economic fortune. There are a number of methods to promote more efficient payments. The biggest challenge to increase the efficiency of retail payments in Europe is the heavy regulation and barriers to entry of new payment methods.
Jie Bai, Seema Jayachandran, Edmund J. Malesky, Benjamin Olken , Friday, November 22, 2013
Eliminating corruption is a central policy goal of policymakers around the globe. It is known that corruption is a barrier to economic development because it increases the costs and risk of business activity, and deters investment. This column discusses a new study analysing the opposite causal relationship – the effect of economic growth on corruption. Both theoretical and empirical evidence show that economic growth causes the amount of corruption to fall.
Ignacio Munyo, Ernesto Talvi, Thursday, November 7, 2013
In recent years, the growth rates of Latin American countries have been cooling-off in comparison to the period of 2004-08. This column argues that the cooling-off is not due to a change in external factors because these have remained favourable. Persistent economic growth can be achieved by internal transformations. It cannot be sustained solely by the external conditions.
Masayuki Morikawa, Saturday, November 2, 2013
Reduced policy uncertainty can contribute to a country’s economic growth. This column highlights the negative influence of policy uncertainty and political instability on the growth of Japan. A survey shows that international trade and tax polices pose the greatest uncertainty on Japanese companies. The column concludes with a discussion of the mechanism via which uncertainty affects corporate behavior.
Thorsten Beck, Sunday, October 27, 2013
A well-functioning financial system is critical for economic growth. However, some studies find a negative relationship between the two at high levels of financial development. This column discusses why this is the case and suggests some policy implications. It argues that reforms that refocus the financial system on enterprise credit and on internalising the downside risks can be beneficial.
John Van Reenen, Thursday, March 29, 2012
The UK’s recent budget reflects tensions felt throughout Europe – how to stem massive budget deficits while not choking off growth. The UK is often held up as a model for voluntary austerity, but this column argues that its policies are a poor model for growth. It asserts that there is a deep intellectual vacuum at the heart of the budget and the government’s approach to economic growth in general.
Ross Levine, Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Financial systems support and spur economic growth. But does financial innovation foster financial development? While recent innovations have done damage, this column says the long-run story is that financial innovation is essential for economic growth.
Michael Bordo, Peter L Rousseau, Thursday, May 26, 2011
How interconnected are finance, trade, and economic growth? This column looks to the past in search of an answer. Examining economies that traded across the Atlantic, it finds that finance and trade reinforced one another between 1880 and 1914 but these links were absent in the post-war period. Financial development has been strongly related to growth throughout the last 130 years, whereas trade had a direct effect on growth only after 1945.
Henry Overman, Tuesday, March 29, 2011
When the global crisis hit, many predicted that London would suffer more than other parts of the UK, given the city’s reliance on the financial services industry. This column explores how the UK capital’s economy suffered far less than the rest of the country.
Svetlana Andrianova, Panicos Demetriades, David Fielding, Badi H Baltagi, Friday, March 25, 2011
International donors provide large amounts of financial capital to Africa in the form of aid and grants, but there are also large financial flows in the opposite direction. Many African banks invest large sums abroad and lend relatively little to local businesses. This column explains that this is because many banks suffer from a shortage of information about the creditworthiness of some of their customers.
Ejaz Ghani, Sunday, March 13, 2011
The Indian economy, along with others in South Asia, is among the fastest growing in the world. But what about social progress? This column reviews World Bank data suggesting that while income growth is helping to reduce poverty, the number of poor people is actually rising and there remains huge room for improvement in education, health, and women’s economic participation.
Nauro F. Campos, Ralitza Dimova, Friday, December 24, 2010
Does corruption sand or grease the wheels of economic growth? This column reviews recent research that uses meta-analysis techniques to try to provide more concrete answers to this old-age question. From a unique, comprehensive data base of 460 estimates of the impact of corruption on growth from 41 studies, the main conclusion that emerges is that there is little support for the “greasing the wheels” hypothesis.