DIW Roundup

Politik im Fokus

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Microenterprises in Developing Countries: Is there Growth Potential?
13 October 2017, Helke Seitz
Roundup 114

Microenterprises account for a large fraction of employment in developing countries and they are likely to increase in importance in the future. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, around 8 million additional jobs need to be created annually in order to cope with the increasing number of new entrants into the labour market (The World Bank, 2013). As microenterprises typically only provide subsistence income to few individuals the question remains whether they have the potential to grow and to contribute to the creation of jobs. Studies suggest that many businesses do indeed have the potential (...)




Does more education protect against mental health problems?
28 September 2017, Daniel Graeber
Roundup 113

Mental health conditions are a leading cause of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and health costs worldwide: They account for 199 million DALYs or 37 percent of healthy life years lost from non-communicable diseases. The sum of direct and indirect costs worldwide were estimated to amount to 2.5 trillion US dollars in 2010 and projected to increase to 6 trillion US dollars in 2030 (Bloom et al., 2010). The heavy financial and societal burdens of mental health impairments also mean that prevention measures to alleviate these problems will have high financial and societal returns. Education (...)




Wind power: mitigated and imposed external costs and other indirect economic effects
27 April 2017, Alexander Zerrahn
Roundup 111

Since the 1990s, (onshore) wind power has become an important technology for electricity generation throughout the world. The economic rationale is the mitigation of negative externalities of conventional technologies, in particular emissions from fossil fuel combustion. However, wind power itself is not free of externalities. Wind turbines are alleged visual and noise impacts as well as threats to wildlife. Further indirect economic effects comprise costs for integrating variable wind electricity into the power system. Economic outcomes, such as employment and GDP, can be positively or (...)




The Natural Rate of Interest and Secular Stagnation
30 January 2017, Guido Baldi
Roundup 110

In many advanced economies, there has been a declining trend in interest rates over the past thirty years. Since the financial crisis, interest rates have remained particularly low. Though a decrease in inflation explains part of the fall in nominal interest rates, there is also a clear downtrend in real interest rates. Against this backdrop, a debate has emerged over the factors that might have contributed to this decline. Potential persistent factors discussed under the heading of “secular stagnation” include a decline in profitable investment opportunities and high global (...)




The Natural Rate of Interest II: Empirical Overview
30 January 2017, Philipp König
Roundup 109

The concept of the natural rate of interest (NRI) dates back to Wicksell (1898) and has since then been highly debated in the economic literature. In practice, estimates of the NRI can be employed as a versatile tool for macroeconomic analysis and are a core element within the popular neo-Wicksellian (or New-Keynesian) framework. The real rate gap, i.e. the difference between the actual interest rate and the NRI, provides valuable information about the state of the economy and can help policy makers to adjust the monetary policy stance. However, the NRI cannot be directly observed and has to (...)




The Natural Rate of Interest I: Theory
27 January 2017, Philipp König
Roundup 108

The term natural (or neutral) real interest rate refers to the equilibrium value of the real interest rate. As this equilibrium is usually conceived as a situation where inflationary or deflationary pressures have abated, the natural real interest rate is a key concept for central banks seeking to stabilize the general price level or targeting the rate of inflation. The present roundup provides a brief historical review of this concept and explains the relevance of the natural real rate for monetary policy analysis. 




The Inflation Targeting Debate
9 January 2017, Malte Rieth
Roundup 107

Inflation targeting has become one of the most prominent monetary regimes around the globe. Proponents argue that it reduces the dynamic inconsistency problem of monetary policy and thereby stabilises prices, which in turn promotes growth. Opponents, on the other hand, say that by focusing on price stability inflation targeting neglects other important policy objectives, such as financial stability, and thereby contributed to the built up of the global financial crisis. This roundup summarises the arguments made in the debate. It concludes that no consensus has emerged in the empirical (...)




Tax evasion and the impact of international regulation: a summary of empirical results
29 November 2016, Jakob Miethe
Roundup 104

While combating tax evasion ranks highly on the international policy agenda and journalists are covering leak after leak, the economics profession at large has somewhat neglected the subject until recently. In the last years, however, a combination of better international financial data and ingenious identification strategies in several pioneering studies has made the subject popular in empirical economics. These contributions are summarized below.             




Parental leave policies and child development: A review of empirical findings
1 November 2016, Mathias Huebener
Roundup 102

Parental leave policies are a major policy tool used across OECD countries to support families before and after child birth. There are large differences across countries in the amount and the duration of benefit payments as well as leave entitlement periods. Despite these differences, the shared goal of parental leave policies is to reconcile family life and work, and support child development. While much research attention has been paid to the effects of parental leave policies on maternal labor supply, much less is known about their effects on child development and health. This DIW Roundup (...)




CGE-Based Methods to Measure the Impact of Trade Liberalization on Poverty
28 July 2016, Isabel Teichmann
Roundup 100

It is heavily discussed whether trade liberalization is good or bad for the poor in a given (developing) country. The answer depends on a wide variety of factors, such as the type of trade barrier removed, the economic and institutional environment in the country, and the characteristics of the poor in that country (Winters 2002; Winters et al. 2004). In addition, the results can also be driven by the specific method used to measure the impact of the trade-policy reform on poverty. For an informed discussion, it is, therefore, important to understand the corresponding empirical methods at (...)




What causes the delay in reforms in Europe?
5 July 2016, Malte Rieth
Roundup 99

The academic literature provides no clear answer to this question. In principle, the recent slowdown in reform activity and fiscal consolidation in the euro area may derive from several developments. Potential reasons involve the end of the economic recession, the provision of financial assistance to crisis countries, and improved financing conditions for governments as a result of unconventional monetary policy, which all reduced reform pressure. While existing studies analyse several of these causes of reform delays in general, there is only very limited evidence for such a relation in the (...)




Nuclear power and the uranium market: are reserves and resources sufficient?
9 June 2016, Roman Mendelevitch
Roundup 98

The increase of the use of atomic power in some emerging economies, in particular South Korea and China, has revitalized a discussion regarding the availability of uranium resources. Despite the fact that global uranium resources are more than sufficient to supply reactor-related demand for the rest of the century, some voices in the nuclear community expect a supply shortage for the upcoming decades, and the risk of prices tippling in the next 20 years. They argue with delayed construction times, untimely mining expansion and unfavorable market conditions. This Roundup takes a closer look at (...)




Demand response in Germany: Technical potential, benefits and regulatory challenges
2 May 2016, Jan Stede
Roundup 96

An increased flexibility of the electricity demand side through demand response (DR) is an opportunity to support the integration of renewable energies. By optimising the use of the generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure, DR reduces the need for costly investments and contributes to system security. There is a significant technical DR potential for load reduction from industrial production processes in Germany, as well as from cross-cutting technologies in industry and the tertiary sector. The availability of demand response as a system resource depends on the underlying (...)




The Dilemma or Trilemma Debate: Empirical Evidence
26 April 2016, Pablo Anaya, Michael Hachula
Roundup 95

One of the central results in international economics is that an economy cannot have at the same time independent monetary policy, free capital flows, and a fixed exchange rate. Over the last few years, however, this so-called Mundell-Flemming ‘trilemma’ has increasingly been challenged. It is argued that given the rising importance and synchronization of capital and credit flows across countries and their underlying common driving forces, the ‘trilemma’ has morphed into a ‘dilemma’: an economy cannot have at the same time independent monetary policy and an (...)




Corporate taxation, leverage, and macroeconomic stability
12 April 2016, Franziska Bremus
Roundup 93

A key challenge for economic policy today is to make the financial system more resilient. The literature finds that high indebtedness (or: leverage), both in the financial and in the real sectors, is a danger to macroeconomic stability and growth. Moreover, the design of the corporate tax system is an important determinant of leverage: in many countries interest paid on debt is tax-deductible while the return on equity is not, such that tax systems incentivize debt-type financing and, hence, leveraging. This article summarizes the debate about the implications of corporate taxation for (...)




Economic effects of uncertainty
7 April 2016, Michele Piffer
Roundup 92

This Roundup discusses the literature on the effects of uncertainty on economic activity. Uncertainty will be generally referred to as the agents’ inability to form clear expectations about the future path of relevant economic variables. After motivating the analysis from a policy perspective, the Roundup outlines the key channels through which uncertainty exerts an impact on the economy. It then discusses in an intuitive manner the challenges in empirically estimating such effect, and the recent developments in the literature.




The Paris Climate Agreement: Is It Sufficient to Limit Climate Change?
15 February 2016, Philipp M. Richter
Roundup 91

“The Paris Agreement is a monumental triumph for people and our planet” (UN News Centre, 2015). Statements, like this one from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, represent the global excitement shortly after the acceptance of the Paris Agreement and describe the outcome of the COP21 in December 2015 primarily as ‘historical’. Twenty years after the UN’s first COP (Conference of the Parties), the international community reached “the first universal agreement in the history of climate negotiations” (French Government, 2015). Euphoria about the diplomatic (...)




Can central banks successfully lean against global headwinds?
22 December 2015, Malte Rieth
Roundup 88

Despite expansionary central bank action, inflation remains low in the euro area. How much can we expect from the additional stimulus in face of anaemic global growth and declining oil prices? More generally, have central banks lost the ability to steer inflation in a globalised world where external factors have powerful effects on domestic inflation? This roundup summarises the evidence in the literature and concludes that central banks retain influence on domestic inflation.  




Leaving coal unburned: Options for demand-side and supply-side policies
14 December 2015, Roman Mendelevitch
Roundup 87

Climate policy consistent with the 2°C target needs to install mechanisms that leave most current coal reserves unburned. Demand-side policies have been argued to be prone to adverse carbon leakage and “green paradox” effects. A growing strain of literature argues in favor of supply-side policies in order to curb future coal consumption. Various concepts with analogies in other sectors are currently discussed. Future empirical research on both demand- and supply-side policy is vital to be able to design efficient and effective policy instruments for climate change mitigation.




Climate Negotiations: What can be expected from the climate summit in Paris?
26 November 2015, Philipp M. Richter
Roundup 86

Shortly before the upcoming UN climate summit, Angela Merkel wrote in a German newspaper: “With good reason, it is expected from governments and politicians, that they do not longer close their eyes to the pressing scientific results that climate protection requires rapid and vigorous action.” She further calls for a clear negotiation outcome: “The greenhouse gas emissions do not only have to be stabilized, but have to be reduced as quickly as possible.” These words could well have been written today, however, they were actually published on March 26, 1995 (FAS, 1995); (...)


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