More in Global Economy


3 months

Blood Plasma: US Paid Donors Dominate Global Market

When market forces of supply and demand become involved with parts of the human body, the result can be a high degree of ambivalence. In the US, for example, a system has evolved where the health care system primarily relies on volunteers for blood, but on paying those who donate blood plasma. Not coincidentally the system of paid US now supplies nearly two-thirds of all the blood plasma available in the world.

3 months

US Intergenerational Mobility: An International Perspective

Intergenerational economic mobility has two aspects. "Absolute" mobility refers to the difference between one generation and the next. In an economy that grows substantially over time, absolute intergenerational mobility can be widespread--that is, most adults currently in the workforce would have higher income than did their parents at the same age. In contrast, "relative" mobility refers to whether the ranking of current adults--say, whether they are in the top 10% or the bottom 10%--is correlated with the ranking of their parents.

3 months

Bitcoin and Illegal Activity

One of the main attractions of bitcoin is its anonymity, which is worth the most to those who are carrying out questionable or illegal transactions. But how much of bitcoin used is tied to illegal activity? Sean Foley, Jonathan R. Karlsen,  and Tālis J. Putniņš tackle this question in their January 2018 working paper, "Sex, drugs, and bitcoin: How much illegal activity is financed through cryptocurrencies?" available at the SSRN website.

3 months

What's Wrong with Macro? A Symposium from the Oxford Review of Economic Policy

Macroconomists were notorious for their disagreements before 2007. Such wrangling only increased with the carnage of the Great Financial Crisis and its aftermath. The Oxford Review of Economic Policy  has now devoted a special double issue (Spring-Summer 2018) to a symposium on the topic of "Rebuilding macroeconomic theory." Lots of big names (to economists!) are featured, and at least for now, all the papers are freely available and ungated.

4 months

What's the Value of a QALY?

QALY is an abbreviation for "quality-adjusted life-year." It refers to gains in health, which combine a time dimension and an adjustment for quality of life. Peter J. Neumann and Joshua T. Cohen offer a quick overview in "QALYs in 2018—Advantages and Concerns," a "Viewpoint" article written for the Journal of the American Medical Association (May 24, 2018). Thus, even if you strongly dislike the idea of a QALY, you might want to be aware that your doctors and health care administrators are paying attention to them.

4 months

The Salubrious US Labor Market

The US unemployment rate has been less than 4% for the last couple of months, which might seem sufficient reason for breaking out the champagne. But the sense of celebration has been generally restrained.

4 months

Italy and the Repricing of European Government Debt

The yield spread between 10yr BTPs and Bunds widened 114bp in May. Populist and anti-EU politics were the catalyst for this repricing of risk. Spain, Portugal and Greece all saw yields increase as Bund yields declined. The ECB policy of OMT should help to avoid a repeat of 2011/2012.