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Poverty, inequality, and COVID-19 in the US

Income is linked to COVID-19 risk factors: poorer people are less likely to be able to socially distance or telework. However, higher-income areas tend to have more in-person interactions. This column disentangles the socioeconomic influences on COVID-19 behaviour and outcomes across the 3,000 counties of the US. Counties with higher overall income inequality tend to have higher infection rates. A higher population share of Black Americans and Hi

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Euro area bank bailout policies after the global financial crisis sowed seeds of the next crisis

During the 2008/09 global financial crisis, European governments bailed out a large number of banks that were severely affected by the crisis. This column documents how the design of the bailout policy was determined by the fiscal capacity of the respective country. Fiscally weak countries recapitalised banks insufficiently, causing undercapitalised banks to shift their assets from loans to risky sovereign debt and engage in zombie lending, resul

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Platform mergers, market power, and advertising income

Television channels face a trade-off between the quality service (and number of viewers) and the revenue generated by advertisements. The market is said to be two-sided, with TV channels providing a platform through which advertisers and consumers are brought together during commercial breaks. This column examines the effects of the merge between two digital TV channels in France, and the regulatory intervention, on the quality of programming for

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The value of luck in the labour market for CEOs

Do CEOs always earn their pay? Using data on executive compensation along with accounting data for S&P 1500 firms,this column explores how swings in firm value that are unrelated to CEO actions (i.e. ‘luck‘) affect CEOs‘ opportunities in the labour market and the performance of firms that hire lucky CEOs. It finds that luck makes CEOs more likely to move to a new firm subject to low analyst coverage and in less competitive indus

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COVID-19 is widening inequality in higher education

New research is emerging which evaluates how COVID-19 has already impacted a generation of students. This column uses a survey of students at one of the largest public universities in the US to show that while pandemic has been broadly disruptive to students, this disruption has been much larger for lower-income students. This seems to be primarily driven by lower-income students being more likely to have been financially impacted by COVID-19 and

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Financial markets and news about the coronavirus

The COVID-19 crisis has been characterised by extremely volatile markets and extremely negative news coverage. Using all relevant Reuters news articles from January to June 2020, this column shows that a 12-topic model effectively tracks the evolution of crisis news flow. In the early stages of the crisis, markets frequently reacted to uninformative news. This dynamic underwent a structural break in mid-March, likely due to Fed interventions, aft

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The COVID-19 shock and consumer credit

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing public health interventions have disrupted economic activity in the US. This column examines the impact of the COVID-19 shock on the use and availability of consumer credit through March 2020. In counties affected by the pandemic, creditworthy borrowers reduced their credit use, but riskier borrowers increased their outstanding credit card balances. While both pandemic severity and non-pharmaceutical interven

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Board dynamics over the startup life cycle

Corporate governance of privately held firms is becoming increasingly important given the rise in the number of private firms and recent governance scandals at such firms. This column examines the structure of the board of directors at venture-capital-backed startups and documents new facts about private-firm board size, the allocation of control, and board-composition dynamics. Within firms, board control shifts over time from venture capitalist

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Europe‘s zombie lending

Viral Acharya tell Tim Phillips that the action to save Europe‘s financial sector after 2008 has delayed reform in the banking sector - creating a decade of lending to zombie firms that has stifled economic growth.

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Support for small businesses amid COVID-19

A sizeable proportion of enterprises, especially SMEs, in receipt of financial assistance from the government will fail to repay. This column asks whether, and to what extent, it may be beneficial to apply a screening mechanism to deter those mostly likely to fail to repay from seeking financial assistance in the first place. The answer largely turns on the relative weights attached for the objectives of stabilisation as compared with allocative

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The heterogeneous transmission of ECB policies

A persistent challenge for the ECB has been meeting the various needs and demands of euro area member states. This column provides empirical and quantitative evidence suggesting that the transmission of the ECB‘s monetary policy is varies significantly across member states. For such as housing and labour markets, the dispersion of responses to a monetary shock is twice as large as the average response. The results of the also suggest that t

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The cleansing effect of banking crises

Recessions are periods of low opportunity costs for time and resources, and hence can facilitate a productivity-enhancing reallocation of resources and improve productivity growth. However, recessions can also slow productivity growth by intensifying credit frictions, for instance, through the accumulation of legacy assets in the banking sector. This column investigates the interaction between these two channels in the recent banking crisis and s

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Global politics from the view of the political-economy trilemma

The political-economy trilemma, introduced by Dani Rodrik (2000), asserts that the three policy goals of national sovereignty, democracy, and globalisation, cannot all be achieved to the full extent simultaneously. This column investigates this trilemma by developing indexes that measure the extent of attainment of the three factors during 1975-2016. It finds that there is a linear relationship between globalisation and national sovereignty (i.e.

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Interest rates, market power, and financial stability

The question of whether low interest rates foster or hamper financial stability has recently received ample attention both from policy as well as the academic circles, leading to the development of a large, mostly empirical, literature on the topic. This column presents a framework to analyse the relevance of the financial sector‘s market structure in answering this question. It shows that in markets with low competition lower safe rates re

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Mass gatherings contributed to early COVID-19 mortality

Social distancing is important to slow the community spread of COVID-19. This column studies the banning of mass gatherings, a comparably low-cost intervention. Exploiting exogenous variation in top-flight basketball and ice hockey games in the US, which arise due to the leagues‘ predetermined schedules, and the suspension of the 2019-20 seasons, it estimates the impact of indoor mass gatherings on COVID-19 mortality in affected US counties

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Income inequality and the welfare state during COVID-19

The economic crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic may disproportionately affect the most vulnerable segments of the population, creating serious challenges for social cohesion and political stability. This column constructs a high-frequency measure of income inequality using anonymised data from bank records on the wages and public transfers of over three million account holders in Spain. Wage inequality increased by almost 30% during the COVID-19 c

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Going bankrupt in China

The lack of an efficient and independent judicial system can impede economic development by negatively affecting firms‘ ability to invest, innovate, and reallocate capital towards more productive projects. This is indeed a concern for China. This column exploits the introduction of specialised bankruptcy courts in different Chinese cities between 2007 and 2017 to examine its effects on the local economy. Specialisation leads to faster resol

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The economic cost of UK school closures

Pupils in schools across the UK have lost up to 105 days of education due to school closures during the COVID-19 lockdown and a second wave of the pandemic, likely in the autumn, may disrupt education further. This column discusses the latest Centre for Macroeconomics survey, in which the panel predicted that the cost to UK economic growth in the will be minor to moderate. However, the panel was unanimous that school closures will increase inequa

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COVID-19 and the EU labour market: Corporate health matters

The COVID-19 crisis has had a substantial impact on labour markets throughout Europe. This column uses new data sources based on Google Trends reports in order to investigate the speed of transmission of the crisis into individuals‘ concerns about becoming unemployed. The results indicate that this transmission is linked to corporate resilience. A stronger financial position of firms to withstand liquidity shortfalls may have helped to cush

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The impact of GDPR on data flows and national security

The Court of Justice of the European Union recently delivered its verdict in the Schrems II case, ruling that the EU-US Privacy Shield is invalid. This column addresses the implications for adequacy and standard contractual clauses as well as the broader issue of how to balance national security and privacy goals. It concludes with observations about the potential impact of the decisions for the US and beyond and suggests some ways forward.

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The risks of high public debt despite a low interest rate environment

As interest rate-growth differentials (r-g) have turned negative in many countries, now could be the time for governments to pursue fiscal expansions. However, the downside risks of such policies should not be disregarded. Using a large sample of economies, this column finds that high and increasing public debts, especially when denominated in foreign currencies, can lead to more volatile r-g dynamics. In particular, this is associated with highe

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