Professor Miguel Leon-Ledesma

Industry volatility and international trade

by Adina Ardelean, Miguel León-Ledesma and Laura Puzzello, discussion paper KDPE 1709, June 2017.

Non-technical summary

In modern theories of economic fluctuations, shocks that drive macroeconomic uncertainty are transformed into business cycles through a propagation mechanism. One such propagation mechanism can be inter-industry linkages: volatility at the industry level can translate into aggregate macroeconomic volatility. For this reason, understanding the sources of risk at the industry level is important. This is even more important in open economies, where industries are exposed to shocks arising in industries located in other countries.

In this paper, we ask the question what are the key sources of industry-level volatility in open economies? To do so, we separately identify how producer-country, industry, and demand shocks affect output volatility at the industry level as well as at the aggregate level. That is, we identify shocks that arise primarily at the level of the country where the industry is located, at the level of the industry regardless of location, and shocks arising at the destination markets for the industry’s products (which we loosely label demand shocks). Importantly, we explore the role played by international trade in two ways. First, our methodology separately accounts for demand shocks originating in the home and foreign markets. Second, we estimate the effect of trade openness on industrial volatility and its components allowing us to identify the main channels through which international trade affects industrial output volatility.

We exploit a multi-country, multi-industry dataset that is combined with bi-lateral trade statistics such that our unit of analysis is the amount sold in any destination market by an industry located in a particular country at a point in time. We use data for 34 countries, 19 manufacturing sectors, and 85 destination markets from 1980 to 2000. Methodologically, we develop a decomposition of this data structure that allows us to isolate the above mentioned sources of volatility.

Our results suggest that countries that are volatile in one industry tend to be volatile in other industries as well. Put simply, industrial output volatility does not depend substantially on industry-specific factors. It depends mostly on country-specific factors, such as exposure to aggregate shocks, sale diversification patterns, or both. Our decompositions show that demand risks account for most of the volatility of industrial output, with the contribution of trade-related demand risks depending on the composition of export destinations. We find that global demand risks and idiosyncratic risk to industries are very important drivers of volatility. Interestingly, at the aggregate level, idiosyncratic demand shocks appear to reduce volatility. This is because these shocks covary strongly negatively between industries, which we term “diversification through covariance”.

Finally, we find evidence that exports and intra-industry imports have opposite effects on industrial output volatility. In particular, exports reduce industrial volatility as they are targeted to countries with lower global demand volatility than the home market’s (a diversification effect). Intra-industry imports drive the positive relationship between industrial output volatility and trade at the industry level by increasing uncertainty in both domestic demand and production (competition and supply-chain effects).

You can download the complete paper here.

Government must think seriously about farm and rural support after Brexit

Experts from the School of Economics Centre for European Agri-Environmental Studies have said the government must create suitable replacement support for UK farmers once the country leaves the European Union and Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments stop.

In a paper written for the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) by Professor Sophia Davidova, Dr Alastair Bailey and honorary Professor Ulrike Hotopp, they note that the loss of the CAP could have a significant effect on the UK farm economy, agri-environment and rural jobs.

Analysis shows that the removal of the CAP without a replacement could risk the loss of about 250,000 jobs in non-farm small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), by considering both the direct and indirect effects of farmers’ purchasing power.

Furthermore, the majority of affected jobs, around 200,000, would be in highly rural areas, which would have a significant negative impact on rural job markets and economies.

The paper also notes that currently more than half of UK farms are heavily reliant upon CAP payments for their survival. Therefore, the government must think seriously about post-Brexit support to be put in place to ensure that UK farmers continue to contribute around 60% of domestic food supplies and to maintain the 70% of the UK land area they look after.

The paper adds that the government should see the end of access to the CAP as an opportunity to create a more effective system of subsidies that avoids the current situation where large, profitable farms receive the largest subsidies.

Dr Alastair Bailey said the government should see the situation as an opportunity to create a replacement to the CAP that could ensure those most in need of support were given the biggest focus of any new proposals.

The paper, Agriculture in the UK, is the latest in NIESR’s General Election briefing series and has been written with the intention of providing informed and rigorous evidence on key areas of UK life in the run up to the General Election on 8 June.

-ENDS-

Article by Dan Worth, University of Kent Press Office

Press coverage generated by this article:

Farm Business: http://www.farmbusiness.co.uk/business/politics/government-must-think-seriously-about-farm-and-rural-support-after-brexit.html

Farming Life: http://www.farminglife.com/farming-news/government-must-think-seriously-about-farm-and-rural-support-after-brexit-1-7982890

FG Insight: https://www.fginsight.com/news/250000-non-farming-jobs-to-go-if-farm-payments-ditched-21497

Yorkshire Post: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/thousands-of-jobs-dependent-on-future-farm-support-payments-study-finds-1-8569932

The Scottish Farmer: http://www.thescottishfarmer.co.uk/news/15334219.CAP_exit_threatens_supply_chain_jobs/

Farmers’ Union of Wales: http://fuw.org.uk/if-agriculture-fails-so-will-our-rural-communities-fuw-warns/?platform=hootsuite

Narberth & Whitland Observer: http://www.narberth-and-whitland-today.co.uk/article.cfm?id=110931&headline=Straws%20in%20the%20Wind%20by%20Meyrick%20Brown&sectionIs=news&searchyear=2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pet matching app by Kent student wins £1,000 investment

Student ideas pitched at the Business Start-Up Journey final impress judges so much they invest an extra £1,500 into three proposals.

Second-year Economics and Sociology student Jaye Graham won the overall competition, receiving a £1,000 investment for her business, Pawfect Match, which utilises a Tinder-style interface to match unhomed cats and dogs with potential owners. This investment was double the event’s usual £500 prize as the judges were so impressed by the idea.

Furthermore, two students from Kent Business School (KBS) were awarded £500 towards their ideas after the judges felt compelled to provide funding to their projects too.

These awards went to Vasu Sarin for his business Tab, which uses wearable technology to allow care homes to remotely monitor elderly people’s health, and Anton Carter for his app Phonic that scans text and reads it aloud to aid learning.

In total eight students took part in the final, marking the culmination of the nine-month Business Start-Up Journey programme which began in November 2016 and run by the KBS’s Accelerator Space for Innovation and Responsible Enterprise (ASPIRE).

Around 100 students entered the competition, with each meeting with ASPIRE entrepreneur in residence Adam Smith to discuss their ideas. All students were also able to attend a series of workshops exploring and explaining various areas of essential business knowledge such as sources of finance, marketing and intellectual property rights.

Eighty ideas were submitted for consideration and 40 were chosen for progression. These students were then invited on a two-day business ‘bootcamp’ where they collaborated, pitched to each other and took part in teambuilding to further hone their ideas.

From these final ideas, the eight pitchers and three video submissions were selected for the final event where they presented their ideas to a panel of judges:

  • Daniel Rubin – Founder and Executive Chairman Dune Group
  • Steve Lowe – MD Elsatex
  • Adam Baker – Santander Universities
  • Dean Johnson –  CEO Haag Streit UK
  • Brenda Okandju – KBS alumna, Business Start-Up Journey finalist (2016-17)

The Business Start-Up Journey also sends two students to the European Innovation Academy – a three-week tech start-up festival which takes place around the world.

This year students Joe Rovira (final year English student) and Laura Candrian (KBS) will be going to Turin and Lisbon, respectively.

Joe is developing an app which connects people to share language skills and Laura’s idea is CoZero (working title) an app that offers people healthier lifestyle choices about how to lower their carbon emissions.

-ENDS-

Article by Dan Worth, University of Kent Press Office

Dr Christian Siegel

Labour market polarisation started as early as the 1950s

Research by Dr Christian Siegel from the School of Economics has found that labour market polarisation caused by the decline of traditional middle-income jobs relative to low- and high-income jobs started as early as the 1950s.

The loss of middle-income manufacturing jobs, as witnessed in the US and most Western European countries, has usually been attributed to the rise of computers and software systems in the 1980s.

This is because computers allowed repetitive tasks to be automated, causing the loss of many manufacturing jobs such as in the automobile industry, but they complemented high-end service jobs, thereby increasing the demand for jobs in areas like banking or law.

However, Dr Siegel’s research examined US census data between 1950 and 2007 to assess types of employment and average salaries and found the trend for wage inequality started as far back as the 1950s.

The research attributes this to the major structural economic changes that occurred at this time, as the service economy within the US began to evolve.

This reduced the number of middle-income jobs available, and meant more workers ended up in either low-income or high-income employment as there were not as many middle-income jobs available.

This meant high-income jobs, as well as low-income jobs, grew at a faster rate, in terms of wages and employment opportunities,compared to middle-income jobs. This trend was then amplified by the arrival of IT systems in the 1980s, rather than caused by it.

The findings could have an impact on how governments tackle the growing issue of wage inequality as it suggests that one of the causes of rising wage inequality is the decline of manufacturing relative to services.

Since this structural change is inevitably linked to economic growth, reverting it would be very costly and lower average incomes. A better way to address challenges from rising inequality would be redistributive policies.

The paper, titled Job Polarization and Structural Change will be published in the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, and was co-authored with Dr Zsofia Barany at Sciences Po.

Article by Dan Worth, University of Kent Press Office

Dr Alex Klein

Why did socialist economies fail? The role of factor inputs reconsidered

by Tamás Vonyó and Alexander Klein, discussion paper KDPE 1708, April 2017.

Non-technical summary

The role of institutions features prominently in comparative studies of economic development. Eastern Europe after 1945 provides a textbook case, where relative decline in income per head and productivity has been linked to institutional failure. The inefficiency of central planning compared to the market economy is well established both theoretically and empirically. The socialist system, it has been argued, was relatively successful in mobilizing resources but stifled innovation and entrepreneurship. Planned economies thus achieved ‘a satisfactory productivity performance in the era of mass production, but could not adapt to the requirements of flexible production technology’ (Broadberry and Klein 2011, p. 37). Effective in the phase of extensive growth, socialist economies slowed down abruptly as investment reached diminishing returns, which contributed to their collapse in the 1980s. While Eastern European countries seem to have maintained high rates of labor participation and very high levels of investment in  physical  capital,  they  were  shown  to  have  become  increasingly  inefficient  compared  to  western market economies in their use of production factors and intermediate inputs.

This paper does not challenge the view that the planned economy was inefficient, but the above characterization  of  the  socialist  growth  experience  is  out  of  date.  As  the  literature  review  will demonstrate,  the  majority of  previous  studies  found that the last  decades  of  communism  witnessed sharply diminishing, during the 1980s often negative, rates of productivity growth. The inefficiency of the socialist system was manifested in productivity failure. We consider these results biased by the inconsistent use of data on output and factor inputs. Researchers benefited from revised data on national income that yielded substantially lower rates of economic growth than what government statistics had suggested, but they have still used official data on capital formation, or estimated capital stock from official investment data. Under central planning, investment statistics are just as difficult to trust as national accounts. We will show that socialist economies invested considerably less in physical capital than previously claimed. Likewise, official employment figures overstate the growth of labour input as average work hours declined from the 1960s onward. We suggest a much larger role for factor inputs and a smaller one for productivity in the relative decline of Eastern Europe, especially in the 1980s, than what earlier interpretations advocated. We reveal fundamental differences between the growth experience of small socialist countries and what we know about the Soviet economy in the same period.

You can download the complete paper here.

Keynes College

Vacancy: Post-doctoral research assistant

The School of Economics is seeking to appoint a post-doctoral research assistant to work on an EPSRC funded project ‘EconoMical, PsycHologicAl and Societal Impact of RanSomware (EMPHASIS)’. This project brings together a large number of researchers from across disciplines including computer science, law, psychology and economics, with expertise in cyber-security.

The successful applicant will work within the School of Economics, under the direction of Edward Cartwright and Anna Stepanova, and be involved with two parts of the project. One part of the project is to measure the economic consequences of ransomware; this will entail running surveys and experiments to put a monetary value on computer files, for individuals, firms and other organizations. Another part of the project is to investigate the optimal strategy of cyber-criminals and the ways in which law enforcement agencies can combat attack.

The post would appeal to someone with expertise in economic evaluation, experimental economics, game theory and/or industrial economics. No expertise in cyber-security is necessary but an interest in cyber-security and a willingness to engage with researchers across disciplines would be expected. The post would also give opportunity to interact with relevant user groups, such as law enforcement agencies, and to contribute to general models that can assist in combatting cyber-crime.

The closing date for applications is 4 June 2017.

We expect to interview on 16 June 2017.

Further details are available here.

Dr Anirban Mitra

Consumption spikes and election days

‘There is ample anecdotal evidence on political parties bribing voters with cash or consumption goods prior to elections, in India and other developing countries. However, there is an expected lack of hard evidence on the extent and form of vote-buying.’

This is an excerpt from a recent article by the School’s Dr Anirban Mitra, Shabana Mitra and Arnab Mukherji (Indian Institute of Management Bangalore) published in Ideas for India, which analyses consumption patterns of households around elections, and finds a spike for some items just before elections.

You can read the full article here: http://ideasforindia.in/article.aspx?article_id=1802

Dr Maria Garcia-Alonso

Brexit and strategic trade control

Dr Maria Garcia-Alonso recently presented at a workshop on ‘Brexit and Strategic Trade Control: Consequences and Ways Forward’ on 24-25 April in Chaudfontaine, Belgium.  The workshop was jointly organised by Quentin Michel (European Studies Unit, University of Liege) and Ian Stewart (King’s College London) and was attended by a small group of government officials, academics and industry policy makers with the purpose of examining the implications of Brexit on strategic trade controls.

The workshop was conducted under Chatham House rules with participation in private capacities, however, the main findings of the workshop can be found on the King’s College website: https://projectalpha.eu/2017/05/#

 

Dr Zaki Wahhaj

Agricultural insurance for rural farmers

Dr Zaki Wahhaj and Dr Harounan Kazianga (Okhlahoma State University) have initiated a research project on ‘Enhancing access to weather index agricultural insurance in Burkina Faso’ in partnership with Innovations for Poverty Action.

Rural households in developing countries are often heavily dependent on rainfall for farming purposes and the lack of rain can lead to crop failure and loss of income. Yet, for a variety of reasons, farmers are reluctant to purchase insurance products that insure against adverse rainfall shocks. The aim of this project is to investigate one potential solution to this problem that relies on making use of links between urban migrants and their relatives in rural areas for the purpose of marketing insurance.

The research project is being financed by the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation with an initial grant of 75,000 USD.

NSS competition winner 2017

National Student Survey competition 2017

A huge thank you to everyone who took part in this year’s National Student Survey (NSS). We really appreciate your time as it gives us some fantastic feedback, which allows us to continue to improve the student experience we offer.

As an incentive to complete the survey, the School ran a competition to win an ipad – our congratulations go to final-year student, Gracie Greenfield, whose name was drawn at the Finalists’ Dinner at the beginning of April.