DIW Roundup http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.436072.en DIW Roundup en http://diw.de/sixcms/media.php/37/thumbnails/diw_roundup225.jpg.480210.jpeg DIW Berlin http://diw.de/ Why are we eating so much meat? http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.741595.en There are various reasons why humans may want to reduce their consumption of meat and other animal products. In the following, we lay out important stylized facts about individual meat consumption, and then discuss the challenges and puzzles surrounding effective behavior change toward more sustainable, plant-based diets.


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Mon, 02 Mar 2020 04:17:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.741595.en
The Impact of Mobile Money in Developing Countries http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.669266.en Mobile money is a success story in terms of facilitating account ownership and payments in developing and emerging countries. Today, telecommunication companies offer mobile money services across more than 90 countries. The most popular services are deposits and instant digital money transfers between users. Widespread mobile money adoption is boosting financial inclusion, reducing in transaction costs and facilitating successful consumption smoothing and risk sharing among users. Nonetheless, mobile money is also associated with heterogeneous effects and risks among the poor and vulnerable populations. This article reviews the recent literature on the impact of mobile money in developing countries.


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Tue, 16 Jul 2019 11:00:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.669266.en
Do Default Assignments Increase Savings of the Poor? Empirical Evidence http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.635384.en Although households in developing and emerging countries are relatively poor, there is potential to save. For example, one study estimates that up to 8.1% of a poor household’s budget in such countries is spent on so-called temptation goods, like alcohol, tobacco, and festivals (Banerjee and Duflo, 2007). At the same time, many households are aware of the fact that they do not save enough. They name factors like self-control problems and family obligations as reasons why they cannot save more. In high income countries, default assignments already facilitate decision making in many areas of life. Among others, these could not just successfully increase organ donation rates (Johnson and Goldstein, 2003) but also retirement savings (Thaler and Benartzi, 2004). With the increased supply of formal financial services in the developing world, default assignments are also a promising and cost-effective tool for these households. Prominent studies on whether and how default assignments increase the savings of the poor are summarized below.


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Fri, 12 Jul 2019 11:00:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.635384.en
Stability Implications of Financial Interconnectedness under the Capital Markets Union http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.620256.en In the run-up to the European elections in May 2019, the European Commission is trying to advance the initiatives laid out in its action plan for a European Capital Markets Union (CMU). In order to diversify financing sources and to increase private risk sharing, the CMU aims at deepening the integration of European equity and debt markets. While there are benefits associated with more cross-border investments, the intensification of connectedness between financial market participants in the Eurozone and beyond can also engender systemic risks. This article reviews the debate about the link between capital market integration and financial stability from the perspective of interconnectedness.


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Tue, 30 Apr 2019 12:00:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.620256.en
Measuring the effect of foreign exchange intervention policies on exchange rates http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.619848.en Central bank intervention in foreign exchange markets is a common tool to influence exchange rates. Although central bankers are convinced of their policy’s effectiveness, econometric estimates of precise effects differ across studies. The difficulties with estimations mostly result from a lack of adequate data. This article highlights different econometric approaches that aim to mitigate estimation problems. Techniques comprise control and matching approaches, event studies, as well as the use and imputation of high-frequency data. Their comparison reveals a trade-off between clear identification of the effect and establishing its validity over a sustained period.


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Thu, 25 Apr 2019 11:00:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.619848.en
Innovative Business Models for Clean-techs http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.607024.en The energy transition plays a critical role in climate change mitigation, yet it is not occurring at a speed that effectively meets greenhouse gas reduction targets (IPCC, 2018). Policy makers are confronting the challenge to unlock flexibility and efficiency of energy systems. Among others, the European Commission (2016a, 2016b, 2017a, 2017b), the German Ministry of Economics and Energy BMWI (2017) and the former British Department of Energy and Climate Change DECC (2015) call for new business models (BMs) to overcome the inertia prevalent in the system.


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Wed, 14 Nov 2018 08:30:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.607024.en
Environmental Regulations: Lessons from the Command-and-Control Approach http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.597509.en Policy makers have long favored command-and-control (CAC) methods to tackle environmental damage. The number of CAC policies devoted to environmental protection has increased steadily since the 1950s and have been a large part of the overall portfolio of environmental laws and regulation in the industrialized world. Schmitt and Schulze (2011) document that between 1970 and 2011 the two most prevalent EU air-pollution control instruments were CAC in nature. Over 50% of the policy instruments were of the CAC type (regulatory, interventionist, and top-down), with emission limits and technical requirements playing the role of the top two. In China and India, most of the environmental legislation also take the form of explicit directives that levy restrictions on both mobile (vehicular) and stationary sources (factories and combustion plants) of pollution (see Tanaka 2014, Greenstone and Hanna 2014).

In the last two decades, there has been a notable increase in research evaluating policy and programs for environmental protection. The design of empirical studies emphasizes causal inference by comparing group of regulated (treated) firms with a comparable control group of firms that were not subject to the treatment. As a result, we now have an improved perspective on the causal effects of environmental policy instruments that address industrial pollution. This review discusses some of the implementation details of prominent CAC type regulations and highlights the lessons learned from the empirical evaluation of these initiatives.


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Tue, 04 Sep 2018 11:00:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.597509.en
Linking Cap-and-Trade Systems http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.593319.en Linking cap-and-trade systems promises gains in cost effectiveness and signals a strong commitment to carbon policy. Linking is also seen as one possible way of converging from regional climate policy initiatives toward a global climate policy architecture. Two linked systems have been established recently, one in Europe and one in North America. However, linking also comes with challenges, such as increased exposure to shocks originating in other parts of the linked system and a greater need for policy coordination. We first consider the benefits and challenges of linking conceptually. We then present some of the main features of the European and North American linked systems and outline the process that led to their establishment. Finally, we consider preliminary evidence on the workings of each linked system.


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Tue, 03 Jul 2018 12:00:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.593319.en
Regulatory differences and international financial integration http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.584507.en The Capital Markets Union (CMU) – an initiative of the European Commission – aims to unify and deepen capital markets across EU Member States by removing existing barriers to cross-border investment and, in particular, harmonizing financial and business regulations. However, harmonizing institutional frameworks across the EU Member States that historically have different legal traditions is difficult and requires time. This article summarizes important steps to harmonizing business and financial laws in the EU and discusses empirical and theoretical literature on the role of legal harmonization in deepening and better integrating financial markets.


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Fri, 18 May 2018 11:00:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.584507.en
The macroeconomic effects of exchange rate movements http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.578409.en The macroeconomic effects of exchange rate movements have been subject to an extensive debate in international economics. Traditionally, much of the discussion was focused on the relation between the effective exchange rate and the trade balance. However, the process of financial globalization has led to a sharp increase in foreign asset and liability positions across countries and also to a greater dispersion in foreign currency positions, with many countries being either large net creditors or net debtors in foreign currency. This has shifted the focus of the discussion from the trade balance to the external balance sheets of countries. This Roundup provides a brief overview of the literature on the macroeconomic impact of exchange rate movements.


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Tue, 20 Feb 2018 02:04:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.578409.en
What determines the Costs of Fiscal Consolidations? http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.578375.en Recent studies have proposed several factors that determine how fiscal consolidations affect the economy. This Roundup focuses on several of these determinants. Namely, it discusses how the composition of the consolidation measure, the state of the business cycle, the level of private indebtedness and the amount of fiscal stress during which the measure is implemented influences the consequences of austerity. It seems reasonable to consider these factors more carefully when deciding about the type and timing of fiscal consolidation plans.


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Mon, 19 Feb 2018 12:57:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.578375.en
Monetary Policy Normalization in the Euro Area http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.575961.en The ECB announced in October 2018 that it would begin to cut back the amount of monthly asset purchases starting January 2018 while extending the duration of the purchases until at least September 2018. At it latest Governor’s Council meeting in January 2019 it decided to remain on this track despite a sharp appreciation of the euro in the meanwhile. These steps were just two on a longer and potentially slippery path back towards standard monetary policy. Market turbulences like the so-called “Taper Tantrum”, which followed the Fed’s 2013 announcement that it was considering to cut back its asset purchasing program, have made central banks wary of the risks of premature or overly explicit announcements of monetary policy normalization. This article provides a short review of quantitative easing (QE) in the euro area since 2015 and of the debate about the right timing for terminating QE.


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Tue, 30 Jan 2018 11:01:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.575961.en
International Investments and Current Account Imbalances: The Importance of Valuation Changes http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.572376.en Global capital flows have strongly increased from the 1980s until the outbreak of the financial crisis. As a result of this development, Germany's foreign investment has risen to around 250 percent of gross domestic product while foreign investments in Germany have increased to about 200 percent of Germany’s gross domestic product. This positive difference between Germany’s assets and liabilities is a result of the country’s continuous current account surpluses, which represent net financial flows – the difference between outflows and inflows. Investments abroad offer investors the opportunity to diversify their savings and possibly generate higher returns than in Germany. In return, however, foreign investment also entails risks; fluctuations in price and exchange rates can lead to high losses. Potential value fluctuations on international investments are relevant for Germany. German policy advisors controversially discuss whether additional investment in domestic infrastructure or research and development would yield higher and less volatile returns than some of Germany’s foreign investments.


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Thu, 07 Dec 2017 11:00:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.572376.en
Capital market integration and macroeconomic stability http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.569121.en After the establishment of the Banking Union, the European Commission is working on measures to foster capital market deepening in Europe. Key goals for a European Capital Markets Union are to provide firms with alternative funding sources to bank credit and to make economies more resilient to local shocks through better international risk sharing. While open capital markets can improve portfolio diversification, growth and welfare, the recent financial crisis was a reminder that capital market integration also carries risks in terms of economic stability. This article summarizes pros and cons of capital market openness and discusses stability implications of different forms of capital market integration.


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Fri, 17 Nov 2017 10:54:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.569121.en
The use of financial market variables in forecasting http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.569173.en Financial market indicators can provide valuable information for forecasting macroeconomic developments. In response to the global financial crisis of 2007/2008, the role of financial variables for forecasting has been revisited, and new empirical and theoretical forecasting methods able to explicitly incorporate financial market information have been developed. This roundup discusses characteristics of financial variable movements and the relation to business cycles. It furthermore summarizes some of the new theoretical and empirical approaches at hand for forecasting macroeconomic variables with financial market information, and highlights main challenges forecasters willing to consider financial market information in forecasting exercises have to face.


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Wed, 15 Nov 2017 10:00:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.569173.en
Microenterprises in Developing Countries: Is there Growth Potential? http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.566624.en 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 to grow. However, they often lack the necessary funds due to imperfect credit markets, insufficient household savings or behavioral reasons and missing information to exploit their potential. Policy interventions to overcome these issues show some promising results. 


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Fri, 13 Oct 2017 11:00:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.566624.en
Does more education protect against mental health problems? http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.565260.en 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 has been theorized to be such a prevention measure. This DIW Roundup reviews contemporaneous research on the causal effect of education on mental health.


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Thu, 28 Sep 2017 10:00:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.565260.en
Wind power: mitigated and imposed external costs and other indirect economic effects http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.556794.en 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 negatively affected both locally and nationally. This Roundup summarizes evidence from multiple literatures on mitigated and imposed external costs and further indirect economic effects.


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Thu, 27 Apr 2017 11:31:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.556794.en
The Natural Rate of Interest and Secular Stagnation http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.551175.en 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 savings rates. It is often argued that, due to these factors, the so-called natural interest rate, which is the level of interest rate consistent with stable, non-inflationary growth, has decreased. However, there are also arguments that the low interest rates are transitory and are due to factors such as post-crisis private debt deleveraging, a temporary “savings glut”, or higher regulatory burdens for firms and households. This report summarizes the discussion on the underlying causes of the low interest rate environment and the potential for a period of secular stagnation.


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Mon, 30 Jan 2017 11:00:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.551175.en
The Natural Rate of Interest II: Empirical Overview http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.551089.en 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 be calculated from other economic data. While the empirical literature provides various estimation approaches, all of them are subject to serious measurement problems and yield fairly uncertain estimates. This Roundup reviews the advantages and shortcomings of the most popular measurement methods and presents an estimation of the NRI and the real rate gap based on the Laubach and Williams (2003) model. 


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Mon, 30 Jan 2017 11:00:00 +0200 http://www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.551089.en