Three new SNF Grants to the Department
2019-05-23: The Department has received three grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) with a combined value of nearly 1.4 Million Swiss Francs. Christian Ruff’s research project Effects of acute stress on social behavior: Combining model-based neuroeconomics and social-affective neuroscience, Philippe Tobler’s project Mechanisms for social learning and Roberto Weber’s research on Redistribution, Deservingness and Self-serving Beliefs were evaluated and selected to be supported.
The Manifold Advantages of Value Added Tax (VAT)
2019-05-20: The New York Times ran an article explaining the advantages of Value Added Tax (VAT), which has never really caught on in the US. VAT is collected from businesses, not households, which makes it easier to administer, especially in less advanced economies, where most people are self-employed and tend to underreport their own earnings. In addition, as it is paid at every stage of production, not just the point of sale, it has a self-enforcing effect: One company’s tax deductions are another company’s tax liability. The article cites Dina Pomeranz’ research ‘No Taxation without Information: Deterrence and Self-Enforcement in the Value Added Tax’ in which she collaborated with the Chilean authorities and successfully tested an approach to increase reported earnings and thus tax revenue.
AER Excellence in Refereeing Award 2018 for Lorenzo Casaburi
2019-05-15: The American Economic Review (AER) announced their list of awards for referees who offered an exceptional service to the AER by supplying a large number and quality of referee reports in 2018, as well as providing valuable assistance in particularly difficult cases. This year, Lorenzo Casaburi received the AER Excellence in Refereeing Award for the dedication and time he has devoted to the advancement of the field of economics.
Penny Goldberg - Trade and Development: The Next Chapter
2019-05-13: The Department was delighted to host a Public Lecture with Penny Goldberg (Yale, Chief Economist Worldbank). Speaking to a packed auditorium, Professor Goldberg outlined the role of the World Bank, the evolution of its vision for development, and her own perspective on the fight against global poverty. She summarized the vision of the World Bank, and the major challenges faced by research and policy makers on global matters.
During her lecture she explained how the World Bank has transitioned from the Washington Consensus approach – based on liberalization, deregulation and privatization – towards Human Capital Development, focusing on healthcare and education. Admittedly, the previous focus of the World Bank on firms and markets delivered success stories, i.e. the growth of the East Asian Tigers and China. However, these successes have been hard to replicate in large parts of Africa and Latin America, as these regions face other challenges. To integrate these, the World Bank has been embracing a complementary approach aiming at people directly. Professor Goldberg expanded on the strengths and limitations of these novel approaches, while stressing how development is not a single-bullet item. Most importantly, investment in human capital requires the presence of a well-grounded state capacity and enforcement, which is often lacking in developing countries. In addition, the long-term nature of human capital growth poses challenges of its own, as this long-term view often stands in conflict with the short-run incentives of politicians to win elections.
Professor Goldberg also explained the main questions that drive her work and vision at the World Bank. Firstly, global-value chain structures have broken up production into stages and consequently affected the nature of international trade. This change has been both a blessing and a curse for developing countries, with the overall effect remaining to be seen. She also stressed that we ‘need development to foster development’, meaning that for development initiatives to be successful, there needs to be a pre-existing level of development, i.e. some basis of stable political infrastructure. Automation is an additional challenge and opportunity for emerging economies, as it may lead to global outsourcing patterns of labor-intensive tasks, while concurrently enhancing productivity. Finally, the backlash of globalization opens questions on the trade-off between trade liberalization and import protection measures.
In light of the main challenges the global economy faces, the World Bank is aiming at promoting coordination across countries, improving both capability and enhancing human capital development in the fight against poverty.
Reasons for the Trade War
2019-05-14: The large Chinese trade surpluses are often cited as the main reason for the special tariffs imposed by the USA, and the ongoing trade dispute. In an interview with Tagesschau, Ralph Ossa points to a number of other reasons: There are valid concerns regarding the protection of intellectual property and China has a very high number of state enterprises. The granting of loans and subsidies to state-owned enterprises in China is opaque. Consequently, market-oriented countries fear that global competitive conditions are being distorted and that their businesses will not be able to compete with Chinese companies.
SRF Tagesschau ( min. 12:00)
Technology Fantasies on the Scrap Yard
2019-04-09: In his column in Finanz und Wirtschaft David Dorn refutes the implicitly assumed speed of technological change. Innovations with real impact date back decades, he explains. Today, for example, we are still flying machines, which, from a technical point of view, do not fundamentally differ from the aircrafts built 60 years ago. Some potentially groundbreaking innovations, such as maglev trains, simply failed because they were not economically viable. Other, more recent innovations, such as unmanned transport drones, face hurdles of social or regulatory acceptance. Such societal reservations can significantly limit the impact of new technologies.
Article in German
Are we Altruistic or Selfish?
2019-04-17: This is the question that the TV program Sternstunde Philisophie tries to answer. In an interview, Ernst Fehr explains how trust or a sense of justice can be observed by playing small games. In his opinion both behaviours - egoism and altruism - are inherent in humans, but that it depends on the incentives, or rules of the game, which one prevails. But is that also true for major global issues such as climate change or organ donation? Find out and watch the Interview in German here.
WTO in its 25th Year
2019-04-15: Protectionism instead of free trade, punitive tariffs instead of dismantling trade barriers. In recent years, the liberal economic order has come under pressure. These developments are also affecting the influence the World Trade Organization (WTO) has over its members. SRF Tagesschau talks to Ralph Ossa, who points to the WTO's twofold task: "On the one hand, the WTO is committed to further trade liberalization. On the other hand, and this is often forgotten, the WTO is also supposed to prevent trade wars". Ralph Ossa recalls the beginnings of the WTO, and its predecessor, the GATT: "These originated from the experience that the trade wars produce no winners. The experience of the 1930s trade war led to countries agreeing on trade treaties. It remains to be seen if today’s leaders will also learn from the current crisis and reaffirm their commitment to trade cooperation".
Appointments by the University Board: David Dorn and Ralph Ossa
2019-04-10: Prof. Dr. Ralph Ossa, born 1978, was appointed Full Professor of International Trade, Kühne Foundation Chair of International Trade, on April 10, 2019. Prof. Ossa studied Management and Economics at the University of Witten/Herdecke and at the London School of Economics (LSE). In 2007, he obtained his doctorate at the LSE. In the same year, Prof. Ossa took up a post as Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University. In 2008, he began researching and teaching at the University of Chicago, first as Assistant Professor and later as Associate Professor in Economics. Since January 1, 2017, Prof. Ossa has been Full Professor of the Economics of Globalization and Emerging Markets at the UZH (future Chair of Globalization and Labor Markets), endowed by the UBS International Center of Economics in Society.
Prof. Dr. David Dorn, born 1979, was appointed Full Professor of Globalization and Labor Markets on April 10, 2019, sponsored by the UBS International Center of Economics in Society. Prof. Dorn studied at the University of St. Gallen, where he received his Ph.D. in Economics. After working as a visiting scholar at various institutions (including MIT and Boston University), he joined CEMFI in Madrid in 2009, first as Assistant Professor of Economics and later as Associate Professor of Economics. Since September 2014 Prof. Dorn is full Professor ad personam for International Trade and Labor Markets at the UZH.
Rationality and Emotions in Economic Decisions
2019-04-10: The relatively young discipline of neuroeconomics uses biological mechanisms to analyze human decision-making: do we decide purely in a rational manner or do emotions sometimes take over? With the help of brain scans and magnetic stimulation, this can not only be measured, but also manipulated. Observing different areas in the brain show how decisions change when, for example, the test subjects are put under stress or certain brain regions are stimulated with electromagnetic waves. The TV programme Tempi Moderni by RSI takes a look over the shoulder of the researchers in the SNS Lab and wants to know for what - apart from marketing purposes - the findings are useful.
Watch programme (in Italian)
Students initiate lecture series with Jean-Michel Gauthier (HEC Paris)
2019-04-04: The Fachverein Oekonomie (fvoec) initiated the lecture series OecTalk this semester. More than 350 interested listeners came to the auditorium of the university on 21 March to hear Jean-Michel Gauthier (HEC Paris) talk about Energy Transition: The cost of a new Revolution in Europe. How is the relationship between fossil and renewable energies developing, can we still achieve the climate targets set out in the Paris Accords, and in which countries have the political measures initiated by Europe created jobs in the field of renewable energy? Jean-Michel Gauthier answered these questions and many more based on data.
We congratulate the Fachverein Oekonomie on the successful start of the OecTalk series and look forward to the upcoming lectures.
Watch the video here
From Behavioral Economics to Neuroeconomics
2019-03-29: Prof. Carlos Alòs-Ferrer held a talk on "De la economía del comportamiento a la neuroeconomía" (From Behavioral Economics to Neuroeconomics) in the Foro HispanoSuizo (Swiss-Spanish Forum) in Zurich. It was attended by the Spanish Ambassador to Switzerland, Ms. Aurora Diaz-Rato, the Spanish General Consul in Zurich Mr. Juan Carlos Gafo Acevedo, the Chief Economics Advisor of the Spanish Embassy Ricardo Santamaria Burgos, and various representatives and managers of Swiss firms across all sectors.
What works? Approaches to Boost Children’s Well-Being
2019-03-13: On 15 March 2019 the 4th Annual Conference of the Center for Child Well-Being and Development took place at the Department. The one-day event brought together researchers, policy makers and private donors. The conference focused on child welfare issues: How can the opportunities of children in disadvantaged regions of the world be improved? In addition to the presentation of current research results, the participants also exchanged experiences from their own projects. For the 70 contributors, the conference was an excellent opportunity to meet researchers from the UZH, ETH, LSE and World Bank and, together with representatives of the Jacobs Foundation, the WHO, the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti, Middle East Nonviolence and Democracy, and Policy Analytics Switzerland, to develop concrete action plans.
Globalization, Trade Wars and Jackson Hole
2019-03-13: How has economics changed over the last 30 years? With this question Roger Schawinski and David Dorn start their radio interview: they discuss the recent developments in economic science and the role of empirical work in Dorn's research. The interview spans topics such as globalization, trade wars and China's significance for the world economy, and in addition you can learn something about David Dorn's background and his taste in music.
Negative Emotions Can Reduce Our Capacity to Trust
2019-03-13: It is no secret that a bad mood can negatively affect how we treat others. However, does it also make us more distrustful? Yes, according to a new study, which shows that negative emotions reduce how much we trust others, even if these emotions were triggered by events that have nothing to do with the decision to trust. The study was carried out by an international research team around Christian Ruff and Ernst Fehr.
«A Reasonable Request»
2019-02-26: Ernst Fehr was among the 3300 economists who signed a petition for the immediate introduction of a global CO2 tax last week. In the interview with the NZZ am Sonntag, he explains why he considers such a tax necessary and why all political parties can in principle support this demand.
Morals versus Money: How We Make Social Decisions
2019-02-06: Our actions are guided by moral values. However, monetary incentives can get in the way of our good intentions. An international group of Neuroeconomists under the supervision of Christian Ruff have now investigated in which area of the brain conflicts between moral and material motives are resolved. Their findings reveal that our actions are more social when these deliberations are inhibited.
Monthly Wages Make Saving Easier
2019-02-05: In developing countries, most workers and farmers are paid on a daily basis. This makes it more difficult for them to set aside money for high expenditures. In the current edition of the American Economic Review, Lorenzo Casaburi shows that dairy farmers and farm workers would prefer monthly payments and are prepared to accept up to 15% less wages. His results also show that overcoming self-commitment issues are the main reason for preferring monthly payments.
A Disorderly Brexit Would Have Far-Reaching Consequences
2019-01-29: Many international companies hold a business office in the UK not only to serve the local market, but also to export directly into the EU. Ralph Ossa explains in the Tagesschau how uncertainty about the future relationship with the EU challenges this business model and what far-reaching consequences an disorderly Brexit could have.
The Price of Motherhood
2019-01-28: A study recently co-authored by Josef Zweimüller generates broad media interest. In all European countries, but especially in Germany and Austria, motherhood has a drastic effect on a woman's income. In Germany, ten years after the birth of the first child, mothers earn an average of 61 per cent less than in the year before they gave birth, in Austria the figure is 51 per cent. No such effect can be seen with men. Availability of daycare does not have an influence on these figures.
Interview with David Dorn
2019-01-25: Interview with David Dorn in Bilanz. Why GDP per capita is not a good measure for economic policy decisions, how China's integration into the world trade system has had such an unexpected impact on labor markets and why it is important to ensure economic growth that benefits the majority.
Article (PDF, 751 KB)
Nudging Does Not Necessarily Improve Decisions
2019-01-24: Nudging, the concept of influencing people’s behavior without imposing rules, bans or coercion, is an idea that government officials and marketing specialists alike are keen to harness, and itis often viewed as a one-size-fits-all solution. Now, a study by researchers from the University of Zurich puts things into perspective: Whether a nudge really does improve decisions depends on a person’s underlying decision-making process. And science still has to agree on that one.
Potential for Risky Behavior is also in Your Genes
2019-01-24: As part of an international research project Pietro Biroli, Christian Zünd and Ernst Fehr found genetic variants associated with risk tolerance and risky behaviors. It is one of the first studies to link genetic variants with behavioral outcomes, which are relevant to social science research.
Trade Wars Know no Winners
Public Recognition and Status Competition: Improving Performance or Propelling Risk?
2019-01-17: Public recognition can lead employees to exert greater effort. However, status competition is also associated with excessive expenditure on status goods, bankruptcy, and more risk taking by money managers. In a their paper, Joachim Voth and co-authors examine the effects of recognition and status competition based on data of World War II fighter pilots and found these associations confirmed. While the public recognition of colleagues led to higher exertion, the outcomes varied across skill groups. The best outperformed themselves successfully. The average pilot however, while increasing their effort, often also took to many risks, increasing their own mortality rates.
Carlos Alós-Ferrer Appointed Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Economic Psychology
2019-01-16: As of Jan 1 2019, Carlos Alós-Ferrer has taken on the role or Editior-in-Chief of the Journal of Economic Psychology. The journal focuses on understanding behavioral, in particular psychological, aspects of economic phenomena and processes on different levels of aggregation, from the household and the individual consumer to the macro level of whole nations, e.g. economic behavior in connection with inflation, unemployment, taxation, economic development, as well as consumer information and economic behavior in the market place.
David Hémous Receives Excellence in Refereeing Award
2019-01-16: David Hémous received the 2018 “Excellence in Refereeing Award” from the Journal of the European Economic Association (JEEA). The award recognizes the outstanding work of those referees whose service and dedication have contributed to the quality of the Journal of the European Economic Association.
Banking Integration in the EMU – let’s get real.
2019-01-11: Bank-to-bank lending in the euro area has increased, direct cross-border lending has not. An article by Mathias Hoffmann, Egor Maslov et al. in VOX CEPR Policy Portal shows that dependence on domestic banks reduces risk-sharing in a crisis, reducing GDP growth in affected country-sectors. This exposes economies with high shares of SMEs and high domestic bank dependence to risks from global banking shocks. Benefits from banking integration are only robust to global shocks if banking integration takes the form of cross-border lending to firms and households.
Jakub Steiner Appointed Associate Professor
2019-01-10: Prof. Dr. Jakub Steiner has been appointed Associate Professor ad personam for Microeconomic Theory starting 1 January 2019. Jakub Steiner originally studied physics and obtained a PhD in Economics from the Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute (CERGE-EI) in Prague in 2006. After lecturing at the University of Edinburgh, he was assistant professor at Northwestern University. After 2012/2013 he held a 50% professorship at the University of Edinburgh, CERGE-EI and the Center for Theoretical Study in Prague. Since June 2018 Jakub Steiner has been a Senior Research Associate at the UZH Department of Economics as part of his ERC Consolidator Grant. His research focuses on theoretical models of human behavior.
David Dorn: One of the Most Cited Economists of our Time
2019-01-08: David Dorn is one of the most cited contemporary economist regarding recency and impact. Based on REPECs citations ranking including the number of citations, weighted the recursive impact factor, and discounted by citation age (WDScCites) he ranks on an excellent 9th place globally.
Most Influential Economists in Switzerland
Interview with David Hémous
Isolation Instead of Innovation?
2019-01-07: At the beginning of the new year, the radio programme Trend takes a look at the current global economic situation. In an interview with David Dorn, the programme explores the question of why scepticism about free trade is increasing and what the consequences of the economic isolation of individual countries are. David Dorn's research shows how the job losses of the last two decades are related to these developments and how economic changes also bring about political changes.