Measuring Inequality

Inequality is the difference between the incomes of the rich and the poor and there are a number of different measures to see how inequality has been changing over time and between countries. National accounts do not provide any data on how income, consumption or wealth is distributed across households [OECD] instead they provide overall income for the country, and dividing this by the population gives us the average income of the nation. Instead we need to use household survey data to give us a measure of inequality. Such surveys are not consistent across countries and therefore make international comparisons of inequality difficult. To overcome these issues, and allow more precise measures of international inequality, we might consider aggregating the national accounts data with the survey data. Unfortunately, this is a very difficult task, and may cause more issues than it solves. One such issue is that in survey data, households who own their home when asked their income may not include an imputed value of their rent, but this is done when we construct the national accounts. Deaton believes that this factor alone is responsible for explaining a large majority in the difference between national income as given by the national accounts versus the household surveys.

Search Markets

Economic theory may initially have us believe that firms shouldn’t offer a higher wage than the reservation wage of workers. If they did so then another firm could enter the market, charge below the reservation wage, have lower costs, sell output at a lower price and capture the market. Yet the theory of efficiency wage provides another story, that higher productivity can offset the cost of higher wages (so that a firm offering w>w* isn’t competed out of the market), and more importantly that a firm must offer a wage greater than the reservation wage in order to operate.

The Credit Channel

The credit channel is an enhancement mechanism for traditional monetary policy transmission, not a truly independent or parallel channel. Discuss

The traditional monetary policy transmission works through a number of conventional channels: interest rate effect, exchange rate effect, asset price effect and through expectations.People used to go to the website and takes the advantage of low interest rates. The stance of monetary policy acts as a signal to firms and individuals about what the central bank thinks the future state of the economy will look like, and thus affects investment and spending decisions by agents now based on this. A higher interest rate could imply that the central bank thinks the economy is doing well, which may induce firms and consumers to spend more, because of this signal. [...]

The Relationship Between Debt and Growth

The debt-growth nexus has received renewed interest among academics and policy makers alike in the aftermath of the recent global financial crisis and the subsequent euro area sovereign debt crisis. Discuss whether there exists a tipping point, for public indebtedness, beyond which economic growth drops off significantly; and more generally, whether a build-up of public debt slows down the economy in the long run.

This essay explores the effects of debt on growth, by first examining the theoretical mechanisms that high debt can lead to lower growth before examining some of the empirical literature to see whether we observe such a relationship. [...]

GDP Data Revisions

The importance of accurate GDP data is often understated and there is a need to document carefully the extent of revisions to statistics on economic activity and evaluate how this affects macroeconomic policy as well as examine ways to improve statistical methods.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has a trade-off between providing estimates on measures of economic activity, such as GDP, quickly, but also accurately. Information sources used to calculate GDP often take up to three years to arrive, but policymakers need to know before this the state of the economy. As such, the ONS uses a fraction (44%) of the eventual data source to make first estimates of the GDP. [...]

Why has wage inequality risen?

Wage inequality has increased in many economies in recent decades. Discuss the three leading hypotheses regarding the causes of this increase. What does the empirical evidence tell us about the quantitative importance of each of these factors?

The US economy has almost double since the 1970s, and labour productivity has risen over this period. Yet real wages for the median worker hasn’t changed much since the 1970s, and below-median male wages have fallen; showing that the increasing size of the economy hasn’t been fairly distributed.

The rise in inequality between high skilled and low skilled workers is particularly pronounced, with Autor finding that households which are composed of university education individuals earned $30,298 more than non-skilled workers in 1979, but this rose to $58,249 by 2012, an increase of 92%. [...]

The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: A Summary

Acemoglu, Johnson and Robinson (AJR) attempt to measure the effects of institutions on income differences by introducing an exogenous source of variation in institutions to measure their differing outcomes. They begin by pointing out that the history of colonisation resulted in different institutions being formed: some countries received extractive institutions (whereby the coloniser would simply extract all resources but would not build proper institutions to promote growth and sustainable living) whilst others received inclusive institutions. This depended upon the ability for colonisers to settle, if a country was full of disease then the coloniser would not wish to live in this colony, but simply take as many resources as possible and then leave. [...]

Economic Growth: Where does it come from?

One of the fundamental questions of economics is why are some countries rich and others poor? Why do some countries experience heavy growth which allows them to catch-up with the economic giants of the world, whilst others are relegated to the bottom and are unable to jump on the growth train? Is it due to luck, geography, culture or institutional factors? This article explains some of the different theories of economic growth, beginning with the Solow growth model (neoclassical model), before criticising such a model and suggesting that endogenous growth models have more to tell us about the growth phenomenon. We highlights the pitfalls of each model, but conclude that the main reason that incomes are different between countries is due to institutional differences. [...]

Did small scale firms inhibit Victorian Growth?

Britain’s manufacturing firms have been accused of remaining family-run and small scale in the period 1850-1914, so ignoring the benefits of the large corporation evident in the USA. Discuss whether this represents a form of entrepreneurial failure by the owners of British firms.

Chandler identifies that corporation’s in America are vertically and horizontally integrated, invested in new technology and produced the latest industrial wares such as electricals, chemicals and automobiles. Britain was characterised by an “atomistic organisation of production”, according to Elbaum and Lazonick, with many small firms that were run by families. This is evidenced by the fact that in 1880s less than 10% of the manufacturing sector was accounted for by the largest 100 firms, the US figure was 22% (Hannah 1983). [...]

Negative Interest Rate Policy and the Zero Lower Bound

Neoclassical Story of the Monetary Policy Transmission Mechanism

The traditional orthodox story tells us that interest rates affect the economy through a number of channels including (i) the investment channel whereby higher interest rates reduce investment, as it becomes more costly to invest thereby inducing firms to either invest with retained earnings or forego investment because expected profits will be too low at higher interest rates (ii) the consumption channel, which is similar to the investment channel, in that higher interest rates make borrowing more expensive and so higher rates mean consumers cut back on big-ticket items such as houses, cars and white-goods; furthermore higher rates not only make borrowing plans more expensive, but also make actual borrowing more expensive: those with loans already will face higher payments and may thus cut-back elsewhere (iii) the wealth effect stems from the effect of rates on asset prices; higher interest rates mean investors can get higher rates from putting their savings in bank accounts rather than in the stock market (and other financial assets) and so demand for assets falls causing a fall in their price (pushing up the return on that investment) which leads to a negative wealth effect as asset prices fall (iv) finally we consider the export effect, whereby a higher interest rate increases demand for a domestic currency (hot money flows in to take advantage of the higher rate) causing an appreciation which leads to fewer exports and hence lower aggregate demand. [...]