Home > Uncategorized > Links. Reviving cities, declining international trade, the accounting side of Grexit and the trouble with credit rating agencies.

Links. Reviving cities, declining international trade, the accounting side of Grexit and the trouble with credit rating agencies.

Remco Schrijvers about the accounting side of Grexit (ELA is created by the bank of Greece and not a Greek liability to the Eurosystem…). Draft!

Henri de Groot e.a. on Voxeu about the revival of cities (and Henry George)

Why have cities emerged as hubs of economic activity in this era in which the internet seems to be the ‘cul-de-sac’ of physical distance? .. Several authors point in the same direction, namely spill-overs and the agglomeration of human capital. Gennaioli et al. (2014) show how within countries, human capital clusters in a small number of regions. The premium in regional GDP per capita is 20% and more per year increase of the mean education level in a region. This return is far above any reasonable estimate of the private return to human capital. Desmet and Rossi-Hansberg (2008) focus on the role of general purpose technologies. In the 1920s and 1930s, that was electricity. Since 1990 it is information technology….Knowledge spill-overs imply that cities are a focal point of location-driven externalities. Land rents are the expression of these externalities. A location’s rent is high not because of the characteristics of the location itself, but because of what happens at locations in their direct proximity. This is a clear example of an externality, the value of your property depends on the actions taking by the owners of neighbouring property. These externalities provide a textbook argument for developing public policy at the level of the city and why a Henry George tax on the value of land is most efficient.

Clemens Jobst and Stefano Ugolini argue that Central Banks should, when buying financial assets, not rely on collateral and credit ratings of credit rating agencies but, just like it used to be, on their own assessment of borrowing companies and organizations. Recommended!

Central bankers’ attitude seems to have changed following the crowding-out of the commercial bill market by the government debt market, engendered by the world wars. The costly information-gathering mechanisms put into place in order to monitor risk-taking in the bill market became less and less useful, and central bankers gradually started to dismiss them. This prompted a rethinking of the concept of liquidity, which became closer to the modern one – according to which asset- and liability-side liquidity are but two sides of the same coin (Plumptre 1940, Brunnermeier and Pedersen 2009). Today, central bankers no longer focus on the maturity of outright holdings (i.e., their being self-liquidating) but on the possibility to sell them on the market if need be (i.e., their ‘shiftability’). Shiftability, however, appears to be very sensitive to informational shocks (Gorton and Ordoñez 2014). As a result, central banks have increasingly found themselves exposed to collateral crises – and hence, to the risk of having to become market-makers of last resort… Unlike their 19th century predecessors, today’s central banks no longer try to have access to superior information than markets – as any other market participant, they rely on the informational shortcuts provided by collateralisation. As a result, central banks appear to be fatally doomed to become market-makers of last resort whenever informational shocks trigger the unravelling of collateral crises. An alternative might consist of reviving 19th century practice and reactivating uncollateralised lending, thus encouraging all market participants not to rely on informational shortcuts.

Bernard Hoekman, also on Voxeu, introduces a book about the declining growth of international trade:

The world’s trade-to-GDP ratio climbed steadily for six decades. The rise slowed even before the Global Crisis and world trade growth has been anaemic since 2010. Recent data shows it declining, leaning some to wonder whether global trade has peaked. This column introduces a new eBook that examines the issue from a wide range of perspectives. No consensus emerges but it is clear that this is not just a cyclical issue – something structural changed.


  1. June 25, 2015 at 9:01 am

    Extraordinarily interesting.

  2. June 25, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Re the EU attribution of debt to the Greek people:

    “…an incorrect theory, even if it cannot be inhibited by any contradiction that would refute it, is none the less incorrect, just as a criminal policy is none the less criminal even if it cannot be inhibited by any court that would curb it”. L E J Brouwer.

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