Raffaela Giordano, Sergi Lanau, Pietro Tommasino, Petia Topalova, Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Italy’s productivity has been stagnant since the late 1990s. This column argues that public sector inefficiency could be partially responsible for the country’s low labour productivity. The evidence suggests that Italy could realise significant macroeconomic productivity gains if average public sector efficiency were to improve from its current faltering levels.

Tito Boeri, Pietro Garibaldi, Espen R. Moen, Friday, June 12, 2015

A new labour law in Italy aims to protect dismissed employees and offer firms greater incentives for human capital investment. This column explains the significance of the change, what it means for firms in Italy and its potentially positive effect on post-crisis job-creation.

Tito Boeri, Pietro Garibaldi, Espen R. Moen, Friday, June 12, 2015

A new labour law in Italy aims to protect dismissed employees and offer firms greater incentives for human capital investment. This column explains the significance of the change, what it means for firms in Italy and its potentially positive effect on post-crisis job-creation. 

Alberto Alesina, Matteo Paradisi, Friday, May 29, 2015

Most of us intuitively believe that politicians reduce taxes and increase spending in the run up to elections to curry favour with voters. But our logic may well be flawed. This column presents evidence from recent Italian elections suggesting that things aren’t so black and white. Yes, some municipalities set lower tax rates in the run up to elections. But the evidence also suggests that municipalities running deficits will think twice about tax breaks and spending sprees. Politicians in big cities are also more cautious, choosing to focus not on tax but on more pressing local issues.

Luca Flabbi, Mario Macis, Andrea Moro, Fabiano Schivardi, Friday, April 24, 2015

Despite the convergence between men and women in many labour market indicators, women are still vastly underrepresented at the boardroom level. Using Italian data, this column presents new evidence on the impact of having a female CEO on the distribution of wages for male and female workers within firms. Female CEOs are shown to reduce the gender wage gap at the top of the wage distribution but widen it at the bottom. The authors also show that firms with female CEOs perform better, the higher the fraction of women in the firm’s workforce.

Nadege Jassaud, Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sound corporate governance is essential for a well-functioning banking system and the integrity of financial markets. This column discusses the corporate governance of Italian banks, its regulatory framework, and the specific challenges arising from the role played by foundations and large cooperatives. Although Italian banks have recently made progress in improving their corporate governance, more needs to be done.

Stefano DellaVigna, Ruben Durante, Brian Knight, Eliana La Ferrara, Sunday, March 9, 2014

Firms hoping for regulatory favours may direct their business purchases towards firms controlled by politicians, who benefit from the additional revenue. This column provides evidence from Italy consistent with this channel. It shows that the share of advertising on Berlusconi’s televisions increased while he was in power, and this even more so in the most regulated industries.

Giulia Bettin, Andrea F Presbitero, Nikola Spatafora, Monday, February 10, 2014

Remittances are one of the most important financial flows to developing countries – more than three times the level of official development assistance. This column presents recent research on remittance flows from Italy. Their limited volatility and countercyclical behaviour with respect to macroeconomic conditions in the recipient country help mitigate developing countries’ vulnerability to external shocks. Better access to financial services for migrants can foster remittance flows.

Fadi Hassan, Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, Saturday, November 30, 2013

The long-lasting stagnation in Italy has often been explained by the country’s lost of competitiveness, but focus on total factor productivity has been scarce. This column discusses the effect of capital and labour misallocation on the productivity slowdown. Such misallocation could not result from labour rigidity, but could be due to limited ICT investment and penetration. Rigid non-meritocratic management practices can greatly affect ICT exploitation, and subsequently – overall productivity growth.

Aerdt Houben, Jan Kakes, Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Financial cycles have increasingly diverged across members of the Eurozone. National macroprudential tools are thus key to managing financial imbalances and protecting Europe’s economic integration. This column discusses research suggesting that reasonable macroprudential policies by the GIIPS countries in the euro’s first decade would have helped avoid much pain in Italy, Portugal and Spain. Greece’s public debt problems were far too large and its banks could not have been shielded with macroprudential policies.

Claire Giordano, Francesco Zollino, Thursday, July 18, 2013

Since the mid-2000s competitiveness indicators for Italy have been providing conflicting signals. This column argues that producer prices and labour costs have actually moved hand in hand since 1992, and that the rise in the real effective exchange rate based on labour costs can be attributed to price-cost divergences in its main trading partners. Due to the internationalisation of production processes and fading share of labour in overall costs, price-based indicators may be more appropriate to assess external competitiveness.

Paolo Manasse, Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It’s currently very trendy in Italy to blame Angela Merkel, Mario Monti, and austerity measures for the current recession. This column argues that while the severity of the downturn is clearly a cyclical phenomenon, the inability of the country to grow out of it is the legacy of more than a decade of a lack of reforms in credit, product and labour markets. This lack of reform has suffocated innovation and productivity growth, resulting in wage dynamics that are completely decoupled from labour productivity and demand conditions.

Edda Zoli, Saturday, June 15, 2013

What has driven Italian sovereign spreads movements? This column presents new research looking into increased volatility in sovereign debt since the summer of 2011. Shocks in investor risk appetite, news related to the Eurozone debt crisis, and consistently bad news in Italy, have been important drivers of Italian sovereign spreads. These findings mean that we need to reduce country-specific vulnerabilities as well as sorting out the Eurozone.

Giovanni D'Alessio, Romina Gambacorta, Giuseppe Ilardi, Friday, May 24, 2013

The ECB’s recent survey on household finances and consumption threw up some unexpected results – counter-intuitively, the average German household has less wealth than the average Mediterranean household. In line with a recent VoxEU.org contribution from De Grauwe and Ji, this article analyses the principal differences in wealth and income between the main Eurozone countries.

Graziella Bertocchi, Monica Bozzano, Friday, March 29, 2013

To what extent can historical and cultural factors explain the reversal of the gender gap? Using a new comprehensive dataset from Italy, this column explores the long-term determinants of the education gender gap. The evidence suggests that cultural values can persist for centuries, but that there have also been critical evolutionary turning points on the road towards equality.

Maurizio Bovi, Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How do everyday Italians feel about their economic prospects? How are political reactions related to economic events? This column presents evidence suggesting that Italians are becoming disillusioned. Comparing Berlusconi's and Monti’s resignation, sentiment was more positive after Belusconi's. Rather than a test on Italian citizens’ realism or on their views on austerity, recent political elections should instead be read as a test of voters’ utter disaffection with political institutions.

Paolo Manasse, Giulio Trigilia, Luca Zavalloni, Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Who saved Italy? This column argues that the crisis began with Silvio Berlusconi and ended with Mario Monti. Evidence suggests that restoring a sense of credibility to Italian policymaking was difficult to earn but may be very easy to lose (as the recent run on Italian debt suggests). New and old Italian politicians cannot afford to underestimate the formidable challenge ahead: getting Italy out of this depression without jeopardising its credibility.

Massimo Anelli, Giovanni Peri, Saturday, February 23, 2013

What causes fewer women than men to choose high-earning potential subjects such as engineering, economics or science at undergraduate level? This column presents new evidence from an accidental natural experiment in Italy, suggesting mixed-gender classes at the high-school level reduce the number of women pursuing these subjects. These results suggest that gender-separated classrooms are an effective way to increase women’s career opportunities and salaries.

Francesco D'Acunto, Gaia Narciso, Sunday, February 3, 2013

How much does media bias affect electoral outcomes? This column examines the Italian case, where Berlusconi, the prime minister, has controlled six out of seven national channels for ten years. It exploits exogenous variation in viewers' exposure to Berlusconi using random switchovers from analogue to digital TV that increased free national channels tenfold. It argues the switch has caused a drop in Berlusconi’s vote share by 5.5 to 7.5 percentage points.

William R. Cline, Thursday, August 30, 2012

Interest rates on Italian and Spanish bonds are back up to their 2011 levels, raising alarm bells across Europe. But this column argues that the media’s hard-held belief that neither Italy nor Spain can withstand interest rates of 7% is wrong.

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