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Esteban Pérez Caldentey and Matías Vernengo

The year 2019 marked the 40th anniversary of the publication of Anthony P. Thirlwall’s classic paper titled ‘The balance-of-payments constraint as an explanation of international growth rate differences’ (Thirlwall 1979). This article introduced and provided empirical evidence in favor of the proposition that the long-run rate of growth of an economy compatible with balance-of-payments equilibrium can be approximated by the simple rule of the ratio of the growth of exports to the income elasticity of demand for imports.

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Edited by Thomas Palley, Esteban Pérez Caldentey and Matías Vernengo

2019 marked the 40th anniversary of the publication of Anthony P. Thirlwall’s classic paper that laid out what became known as Thirlwall’s law. This article introduced and provided empirical evidence in favor of the proposition that the long-run rate of growth of an economy compatible with balance-of-payments equilibrium can be approximated by the simple rule of the ratio of the growth of exports to the income elasticity of demand for imports.
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Nick Dadson, Iain Snoddy and Joshua White

‘Big data’ and ‘big tech’ have become central topics in recent antitrust debate and regulation. For example, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently published a report on online platforms, expressing concerns that the major platforms like Google are now protected from competition by such strong incumbency advantages. Underlying the CMA's theory of harm is the essential facility theory of antitrust, under which Google's ability to control access to its click-and-query data is seen as preventing its rivals from competing effectively. EU jurisprudence has identified three criteria to determine whether data are an essential facility and whether access should be mandated. First, the data must be indispensable to compete in the market. Secondly, absent data sharing, technical improvements by competitors must be hampered or precluded. Thirdly, there must be no objective justification to refuse competitors access to the data. It is difficult to reconcile the authorities’ concerns with Google's click-and-query data with these criteria, however. Actual and potential alternatives exist; Google's competitors have been innovating in the search market for more than a decade; and there are objective reasons to limit data access, including threats to innovation and privacy concerns.

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Ambroise Descamps, Timo Klein and Gareth Shier

In the modern economy, algorithms influence many aspects of our lives, from how much we pay for groceries and what adverts we see, to the decisions taken by health professionals. As is true with all new technologies, algorithms bring new economic opportunities and make our lives easier, but they also bring new challenges. Indeed, many competition authorities have voiced their concerns that under certain circumstances algorithms may harm consumers, lead to exclusion of some competitors and may even enable firms (knowingly or otherwise) to avoid competitive pressure and collude. In this article, we explain how algorithms work and what potential benefits and harms they bring to competition.

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Sebastiaan Wijsman and Christophe Crombez

This paper studies the effects of fiscal rules on public investment. Economists argue that fiscal rules decrease public investment, as it is easier for governments to lower public investment than current expenditures. This paper presents an empirical assessment of the relationship between fiscal rules and public investment using European panel data covering the 1997–2016 period. In contrast to previous work, we focus on national fiscal rules and use the European Commission's Fiscal Rules Strength Index to measure the constraints imposed on public finances. This index captures 230 national fiscal rules and reflects the annual strength of fiscal rules in each European Union member state. In line with our expectations, we find that fiscal rules decrease public investment. We run some additional models in which the results are mixed.