VoxEU & CEPR Coverage of the Covid-19 Global Pandemic

Davide Delle Monache, Ivan Petrella, Fabrizio Venditti, 24 August 2020

The fast rebound of US stock prices following the Covid-19 shock has reignited discussions over ‘frothiness’ in stock markets. This column examines how asset prices are affected by drastic shocks to the real economy, and what factors drive this relationship. Evidence from the investigation suggests that, from a longer-term perspective, high asset valuations may reflect more than just investor optimism. The greater expected income, in comparison to government bonds, could be the key as to why investors are continuing to trust in the stock market, irrespective of the turbulent wider economic climate.

Rabah Arezki, Simeon Djankov, Ha Nguyen, Ivan Yotzov, 24 August 2020

It is often argued that democracy is the least imperfect form of government mainly because of the existence of a ‘self-correcting’ mechanism stemming from voice and accountability embedded in democracies. Using text analysis from about a billion newspaper articles in 28 languages, this column shows that the intensity of reform chatter increases during economic downturns and that the increase is more significant in democracies. During downturns, democracies appear to benefit disproportionately from changing popular attitudes translating into actual reforms.

Mariarosaria Comunale, 23 August 2020

Historically, Lithuania has had very high suicide rates, especially among its male population. This column aims to shed light on possible factors linked to the high suicide rates in the Baltic states and specifically in Lithuania. Factors with the strongest links to suicide rates in the region include GDP growth, demographics, alcohol consumption, psychological factors and climate temperature. For Lithuania specifically, other macroeconomic variables (especially linked to the labour market) may also matter. The percentage of rural population is not a key robust factor.

Alex Imas, Kristóf Madarász, 22 August 2020

Protectionism, nationalism, left- and right-wing populism are on the rise all over the world. This column tests the premise that the value a person attaches to consuming an object or possessing an attribute increases in others' unmet excess desire for it, terming this behaviour as mimetic dominance seeking. On the basis of two experiments designed to provide direct evidence of this behaviour, it finds that mimetic dominance leads to a reluctance to trade and a direct preference for objects that become scarcer, with the latter generating a motive for exclusion.

Roel Beetsma, Brian Burgoon, Francesco Nicoli, Anniek de Ruijter, Frank Vandenbroucke, 21 August 2020

Building a large and durable consensus for mutual assistance policies in the EU is challenging. Even in times of crisis, member states express different preferences, and policies must reckon with democratic politics. This column presents evidence from a randomised survey to assess support for various EU budgetary assistance packages across five member states. A majority of packages are supported in all countries, although individual design features have significant effects on public approval. Importantly, it is possible to design packages such that they obtain majority support across all sampled countries, a key condition for success with policies of this kind.

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