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  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: We validate our measure by showing it correctly identifies calls containing extensive conversations on risks that are political in nature, that it varies intuitively over time and across sectors, and that it correlates with the firm’s actions and stock market volatility in a manner that is highly indicative of political risk. Firms exposed to political risk retrench hiring and investment and actively lobby and donate to politicians. These results continue to hold after controlling for news about the mean (as opposed to the variance) of political shocks. Interestingly, the vast majority of the variation in our measure is at the firm level rather than at the aggregate or sector level, in the sense that it is neither captured by the interaction of sector and time fixed effects, nor by heterogeneous exposure of individual firms to aggregate political risk. The dispersion of this firm-level political risk increases significantly at times with high aggregate political risk. Decomposing our measure of political risk by topic, we find that firms that devote more time to discussing risks associated with a given political topic tend to increase lobbying on that topic, but not on other topics, in the following quarter.
  • Topic: Economics, Economy, Business , Risk
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Christian Breuer
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: In this paper we methodologically review and criticize a broad literature of empirical work on the effects of fiscal policy (the ‘conventional approach’). Beyond previous critiques of this approach, we show that the cyclical adjustment strategy as used in this literature entails erroneous assumptions that necessarily produce flawed results in support of expansionary austerity. Specifically, the cyclically-adjusted primary balance (CAPB) strategy this literature employs fails to correct for cyclical effects in the expenditure- GDP-ratio, so that the estimates of the results of expansionary fiscal consolidation are affected by reverse causality, i.e. increasing GDP causally decreases expenditure-GDP- ratios, rather than vice versa. We provide suggestions on how to fix this incomplete cyclical adjustment problem with a new approach. After replicating two famous articles of the conventional literature and controlling for this bias, the expansionary effects of fiscal adjustments disappear or turn into their opposite
  • Topic: Economics, Macroeconomics, Fiscal Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Maxim Ananyev, Michael Poyker
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: We demonstrate that civil conflict erodes self-identification with a nation-state even among non- rebellious ethnic groups in non-conflict areas. We perform a difference-in-difference estimation using Afrobarometer data. Using the onset of Tuareg-led insurgency in Mali caused by the demise of the Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi as an exogenous shock to state capacity, we find that residents living closer to the border with the conflict zone experienced a larger decrease in national identification. The effect was greater on people who were more exposed to local media. We hypothesize about the mechanism and show that civil conflict erodes national identity through the peoples’ perception of a state weakness.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, State Formation, State Actors, State, Institutions
  • Political Geography: Africa, Libya, Mali
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Finance and the macroeconomy, both policy and industry practices as well as academic research, have evolved substantially in recent years. While the old questions of business cycles, macroeconomic management, financial regulation, and social protection are still being debated, we are now confronted with new developments in the economy, characterized by digital technology, new modes of production and business models, and changing employment relations. Macroeconomics and finance need urgent rethinking as the global economy transforms. Our gathering on March 5, 2019 brought together economists, policymakers, financial regulators, and industry practitioners from around the world. We heard diverse perspectives on multilateralism, pension and labor market reform, international trade, and risks in the world economy, and we grappled with issues on stagnant wages, public debt, fiscal and monetary policy, and banking reforms. Our discussion was by no means exhaustive or conclusive, but we attempted to harness the group’s collective wisdom to address some of the most prominent questions of our day. This document is intended to inform our commissioners as they develop CGET’s final report and to share our timely conversation with policymakers and the general public. Fomenting multidisciplinary, critical discourse is one of the most important responsibilities of this initiative, and we sincerely thank the staff at the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), our dedicated Commissioners, and our outside experts for helping us to promote this dialogue.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, Regulation, Digital Economy, Economic Theory, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Claudia Fontanari, Antonella Palumbo, Chiara Salvatori
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: This paper challenges the mainstream view of potential output, and enquires into the supposed effects of Great Recession on potential growth. We identify in the demand-led growth perspective a more promising theoretical framework both to define the notion and to gauge the long-term effects of a demand slow down. Based on the poor reliability of standard estimates of potential output, we also propose an alternative calculation. This is based on an update of Arthur M. Okun’s original method for estimating potential output, which, differently from the estimation methods currently in use, does not rely on the notion of NAIRU, thus being immune to its theoretical and empirical shortcomings. Our calculation, based on a re-estimation of Okun’s Law on US quarterly data, shows both how far an economy generally operates from its production possibilities, and how much potential growth is affected by the actual growth of demand over time. These wide margins for expansion of actual and potential output growth imply that a determined policy of demand expansion would create, given time, the very capacity that justifies it.
  • Topic: Economics, Global Recession, Economic growth, Macroeconomics, Demand
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Technology has become the most powerful disruptive force in our economy. It bears on the future of work, competition, market power, and national security, and it binds the other major areas of our commission’s investigation: macroeconomics and finance, globalization, and climate change. In essence, technological progress propels global economic transformation. Our gathering on February 6, 2019 brought economists together with leading voices from academia, labor, private industry, and the nonprofit/NGO sector. We heard from industry leaders with deep roots and history in the Silicon Valley technology revolution, academics who have also spent time in the policy arena, and from individuals who are already considering new models and approaches to digital rights and the future of work. Our discussion was by no means exhaustive or conclusive, but we attempted to harness the group’s collective wisdom to address some of the most vexing questions of our day. This document is intended to inform our commissioners as they develop CGET’s final report and to share our timely conversation with policymakers and the general public. Fomenting multidisciplinary, critical discourse is one of the most important responsibilities of this initiative, and we sincerely thank the staff at the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), our dedicated commissioners, and our outside thought leaders for helping us to promote this dialogue.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Global Markets, Digital Economy, Global Political Economy, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Servaas Storm
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Using macroeconomic data for 1960-2018, this paper analyzes the origins of the crisis of the ‘post-Maastricht Treaty order of Italian capitalism’. After 1992, Italy did more than most other Eurozone members to satisfy EMU conditions in terms of self-imposed fiscal consolidation, structural reform and real wage restraint—and the country was undeniably successful in bringing down inflation, moderating wages, running primary fiscal surpluses, reducing unemployment and raising the profit share. But its adherence to the EMU rulebook asphyxiated Italy’s domestic demand and exports—and resulted not just in economic stagnation and a generalized productivity slowdown, but in relative and absolute decline in many major dimensions of economic activity. Italy’s chronic shortage of demand has clear sources: (a) perpetual fiscal austerity; (b) permanent real wage restraint; and (c) a lack of technological competitiveness which, in combination with an overvalued euro, weakens the ability of Italian firms to maintain their global market shares in the face of increasing competition of low-wage countries. These three causes lower capacity utilization, reduce firm profitability and hurt investment, innovation and diversification. The EMU rulebook thus locks the Italian economy into economic decline and impoverishment. The analysis points to the need to end austerity and devise public investment and industrial policies to improve Italy’s ‘technological competitiveness’ and stop the structural divergence between the Italian economy and France/Germany. The issue is not just to revive demand in the short run (which is easy), but to create a self-reinforcing process of investment-led and innovation-driven process of long-run growth (which is difficult).
  • Topic: Economics, Capitalism, Global Political Economy, Macroeconomics, Eurozone
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Author: Michael Poyker
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: I study the economic externalities of convict labor on local labor markets and firms. Using newly collected panel data on U.S. prisons and convict-labor camps from 1886 to 1940, I calculate each county’s exposure to prisons. I exploit quasi-random variation in county’s exposure to capacities of pre-convict-labor prisons as an instrument. I find that competition from cheap prison-made goods led to higher unemployment, lower labor-force participation, and reduced wages (particularly for women) in counties that housed competing manufacturing industries. The introduction of convict labor accounts for 0.5 percentage-point slower annual growth in manufacturing wages during 1880– 1900. At the same time, affected industries had to innovate away from the competition and thus had higher patenting rates. I also document that technological changes in affected industries were capital-biased.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Labor Issues, Capitalism, Domestic politics, Macroeconomics, Mass Incarceration, Manufacturing
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Roman Frydman, Søren Johansen, Anders Rahbek, Morten Tabor
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: This paper introduces the Knightian Uncertainty Hypothesis (KUH), a new approach to macroeconomics and finance theory. KUH rests on a novel mathematical framework that characterizes both measurable and Knightian uncertainty about economic outcomes. Relying on this framework and John Muth’s pathbreaking hypothesis, KUH represents participants’ forecasts to be consistent with both uncertainties. KUH thus enables models of aggregate outcomes that 1) are premised on market participants’ rationality, and 2) yet accord a role to both fundamental and psychological (and other non-fundamental) factors in driving outcomes. The paper also suggests how a KUH model’s quantitative predictions can be confronted with time-series data.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Economic Theory, Macroeconomics, Mathematics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Shannon Monnat
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Over the past two decades deaths from opioids and other drugs have grown to be a major U.S. population health problem, but the magnitude of the crisis varies across the U.S., and explanations for widespread geographic variation in the severity of the drug crisis are limited. An emerging debate is whether geographic differences in drug mortality rates are driven mostly by opioid supply factors or socioeconomic distress. To explore this topic, I examined relationships between county-level non-Hispanic white drug mortality rates for 2000-02 and 2014-16 and several socioeconomic and opioid supply measures across the urban-rural continuum and within different rural labor markets. Net of county demographic composition, average non-Hispanic white drug mortality rates are highest and increased the most in large metro counties. In 2014-16, the most rural counties had an average of 6.2 fewer deaths per 100,000 population than large metro counties. Economic distress, family distress, persistent population loss, and opioid supply factors (exposure to prescription opioids and fentanyl) are all associated with significantly higher drug mortality rates. However, the magnitude of associations varies across the urban-rural continuum and across different types of rural labor markets. In rural counties, economic distress appears to be a stronger predictor than opioid supply measures of drug mortality rates, but in urban counties, opioid supply factors are more strongly associated with drug mortality rates than is economic distress. Ultimately, the highest drug mortality rates are disproportionately concentrated in economically distressed mining and service sector dependent counties with high exposure to prescription opioids and fentanyl.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Inequality, Macroeconomics, Drugs
  • Political Geography: United States