Italian commerce: Partnering the Old and the New

By Francesco Grechi Data released on August 31st signaled a pleasant note for the Italian economy: a 0.2% drop in the unemployment rate from July 2015 (11.6% to 11.4%). These numbers come as confirmation of a year-long downwards trend, considered by analysts to be a good omen for the nation’s stagnant labor market. Yet not to sound too pessimistic, any notion of relief should be considered very relatively. The Southern European country still has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the EU-28, and has attracted the attention of many commentators over recent financial instability. And this comes without mentioning perhaps the most pressing issue the country is facing: its colossal youth unemployment rate. According to the same data mentioned earlier, the youth unemployment rate currently resides at a whopping 39.2%. To make this more palpable, approximately 1.8 million young Italians are actively searching for,but cannot find, jobs. So, in a time where many interpret the downwards trend in the overall unemployment rate as a signal that the economy is ascending out of its 2008 ditch, Italians aged 15-24 see a future bleaker than ever. The question therefore arises: what can the Italian government do to assist its future generations in earning a salary? One approach is to address Italian firms’ sluggishness to embrace online trade. In a 2015 study, Google found that 40% of Italian producers do not believe that expanding online would benefit their revenue. Voiced in an KEEP READING >>

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Puerto Rico and its Colonial “Promise”

By Gabriel Kilpatrick Much attention in the media has been given to the recent developments in Puerto Rico; indeed the news has been rife with coverage of blackouts and a rapidly spreading Zika outbreak. However, the development receiving the most attention is the island’s deteriorating economic situation. With the Commonwealth facing an increasingly dire inability to strike a deal with creditors over its exploding debt, as well as a decade long period of disturbingly-low economic growth, President Obama and Congress took action. The result was H.R. 5278, Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, or “PROMESA”. The legislation creates a seven member Oversight Board with broad authority over the island’s finances and a mandate to manage Puerto Rico’s $70 billion-plus of taxpayer-funded public debt and avert economic catastrophe. This move is not unprecedented; similar measures were undertaken in the wake of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing in 2013. However, important KEEP READING >>

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The Carbon Conundrum

Last week, Canada announced that it had taken its first steps towards joining a small and exclusive group of nations with a national carbon tax. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called upon the country’s provinces to individually adopt either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade framework by 2022, or have Ottawa impose a tax by that date. But why should government interfere with the free market in order to reduce carbon consumption? Does the market not always result in an efficient amount of carbon being bought and sold? Indeed, economics has often been the seat of contention, not in the least because of its impact on politics (and often, the impact of ideology on fiscal research). Between reforming the tax code, tackling our healthcare epidemic or determining how to best trade with foreign nations, today’s pre-eminent thinkers have much to debate over. However, a surprisingly large consensus exists on the need for government intervention in curbing carbon consumption. Simply put, carbon KEEP READING >>

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Is College Worth It?

With U.S. presidential contenders such as Bernie Sanders proposing tuition-free education at public universities, I will examine a series of increasingly relevant education issues through an economic lens. Is it worth paying rising tuition bills at universities? What alternatives might one pursue to four years at an undergraduate institution and why? How much, exactly, is a bachelor’s degree worth? First, a monetary analysis. According to the College Board, in the 2015-16 academic year, the average cost of tuition and fees was about $32,000 at private colleges, compared to roughly $9,000 for state residents at public colleges. Out-of-state residents at public colleges fared significantly worse than their counterparts, with a price tag similar to private colleges at $24,000. At Columbia, this year’s sticker price was about $66,000-- more than double of the average private college! With the Fed’s decision to raise interest rates in December and economic instability abroad captured KEEP READING >>

CER Presents: Columbia Students Speak Out on Sanders

In the first edition of our new video series, the Columbia Economics Review is proud to present Columbia students' musings on Bernie Sanders. Speaking directly from Low Steps and the College Walk, our peers weigh in on Sanders' presidential campaign, economic policies, and what it really means to be a democratic socialist. KEEP READING >>

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