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Dirk Niepelt

Dirk Niepelt

Dirk Niepelt is Director of the Study Center Gerzensee and Professor at the University of Bern. A research fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR, London), CESifo (Munich) research network member and member of the macroeconomic committee of the Verein für Socialpolitik, he served on the board of the Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics and was an invited professor at the University of Lausanne as well as a visiting professor at the Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES) at Stockholm University.

Articles by Dirk Niepelt

Conflicts of Interest at Bern’s Inselspital?

September 7, 2018

In the NZZ, Daniel Gerny and Simon Hehli report about potential conflicts of interest at Bern’s university hospital, the Inselspital.
A cardiologist found evidence of negative health effects of in vitro fertilization, which the Inselspital offers. But unusually, the hospital’s PR department didn’t advertize the findings. The motivation to keep quiet, according to the PR department, was that the findings are of relevance also for other groups at the hospital, and that this would have to be taken into account:
Publiziert wurde die Berner Studie im renommierten Fachmagazin «Journal of the American College of Cardiology». Seit Tagen sind die Untersuchungsergebnisse in aller Munde. … Umso erstaunlicher, dass ausgerechnet Scherrers Arbeitgeber, das Inselspital, der Studie keine grosse

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Negative Value Added of Switzerland’s Agricultural Sector

September 7, 2018

Farmers in Switzerland receive about CHF 2.7 billion in direct financial support annually. Total financial support by the federal and cantonal governments equals more than CHF 4 billion. But according to a report published by Zurich based think tank Avenir Suisse, this financial support constitutes just a minor part of the transfers from society at large to farmers, due to explicit and implicit subsidies, privileges, and—most importantly—negative externalities.
A list of privileges compiled by Avenir Suisse.
Avenir Suisse estimates the value added of Swiss agriculture to be hugely negative.
Die heutige Schweizer Landwirtschaft resultiert in einer negativen Wertschöpfung von minus 15,8 Mrd. Fr. pro Jahr. Damit kostet sie uns umgerechnet rund 1,8 Mio. Fr. pro Stunde.
In the NZZ, Nicole

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“Macroeconomics II,” Bern, Fall 2018

August 31, 2018

MA course at the University of Bern.
Time: Wed 10-12. KSL course site. Course assistant: Lukas Voellmy.
The course introduces Master students to modern macroeconomic theory. Building on the analysis of the consumption-saving trade off and on concepts from general equilibrium theory, the course covers workhorse general equilibrium models of modern macroeconomics, including the representative agent framework, the overlapping generations model, and possibly the Lucas tree model. Lectures follow chapters 1–4 (possibly 5) in this text.

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“Central Bank Digital Currency: Why It Matters and Why Not,” VoxEU, 2018

August 20, 2018

VoxEU, August 20, 2018. HTML.
To a first approximation, inside and outside money are substitutes—the introduction of CBDC does not change the equilibrium allocation.
Bank incentives and central bank incentives might be affected though.
CBDC could increase the incentive to extend credit but might undermine the political support for implicit financial assistance to banks.

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Germany, or the Bundesbank Caves In

August 2, 2018

In the FAZ, Philip Plickert reports that Deutsche Bundesbank changed its terms of business. Starting August 25, the Bundesbank may refuse cash transactions with a bank if the Bundesbank fears that, counter to the bank’s assurances, the cash transaction might help the bank or its customers evade sanctions or restrictions with the aim to impede money laundering or terrorism finance.
Conveniently, this will allow the Bundesbank to reject a request by European-Iranian Handelsbank to withdraw several hundred Euros.
Die staatliche Europäisch-Iranische Handelsbank (EIHB) in Hamburg hatte Anfang Juli bei der Bundesbank beantragt, mehr als 300 Millionen Euro in bar abzuheben. Nach Informationen der F.A.Z. war sogar von 350 bis 380 Millionen Euro die Rede. Dem Vernehmen nach soll es sich um

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How Switzerland Became Multilingual

August 2, 2018

In the NZZ, Christophe Büchi reports how Switzerland became a multilingual country. Immigration occurred in waves; sometimes the immigrants adjusted more, sometimes less.

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“Reserves For All? Central Bank Digital Currency, Deposits, and their (Non)-Equivalence,” CEPR, 2018

July 22, 2018

CEPR Discussion Paper 13065, July 2018. PDF. (Personal copy.)
I offer a macroeconomic perspective on the “Reserves for All” (RFA) proposal to let the general public use electronic central bank money. After distinguishing RFA from cryptocurrencies and relating the proposal to discussions about narrow banking and the abolition of cash I propose an equivalence result according to which a marginal substitution of outside for inside money does not affect macroeconomic outcomes. I identify key conditions on bank and government (central bank) incentives for equivalence and argue that these conditions likely are violated, implying that RFA would change macroeconomic outcomes. I also relate my analysis to common arguments in the discussion about RFA and point to inconsistencies and open

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Mobile Phone Use and Cognitive Functions

July 19, 2018

In Environmental Health Perspectives, Milena Foerster, Arno Thielens, Wout Joseph, Marloes Eeftens, and Martin Röösli report findings that suggest potential adverse effects of adolescents’ mobile phone use on cognitive functions.
We found preliminary evidence suggesting that RF-EMF may affect brain functions such as figural memory in regions that are most exposed during mobile phone use. Our findings do not provide conclusive evidence of causal effects and should be interpreted with caution until confirmed in other populations. Associations with media use parameters with low RF-EMF exposures did not provide clear or consistent support of effects of media use unrelated to RF-EMF (with the possible exception of consistent positive associations between verbal memory and data traffic

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Financial Sanctions, the USD, and the EUR

July 8, 2018

On Moneyness, JP Koning discusses the ability or not of the U.S. treasury to enforce financial sanctions overseas. Focusing on the Iran sanctions that ran from 2010 to 2015 (with strong international support) and are scheduled to be reimposed soon (without such support) Koning compares the U.S. sanctions regime to an exclusivity agreement that a large retailer imposes on a manufacturer.
Foreign banks in places like Europe were free to continue providing transactions services to Iran, but if they did so they would not be able to maintain correspondent accounts at U.S. banks. To ensure these rules were enforced, U.S. banks were to be fined and U.S. bank executives incarcerated if found guilty of providing accounts to offenders. Fearful bank executives were very quick to comply by

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Bullshit Jobs and Corporate Correctness

June 11, 2018

In the New Yorker, Nathan Heller reviews David Graeber’s “Bullshit Jobs.”
In the course of Graeber’s diagnosis, he inaugurates five phyla of bullshit work. “Flunkies,” he says, are those paid to hang around and make their superiors feel important: doormen, useless assistants, receptionists with silent phones, and so on. “Goons” are gratuitous or arms-race muscle; Graeber points to Oxford University’s P.R. staff, whose task appears to be to convince the public that Oxford is a good school. “Duct tapers” are hired to patch or bridge major flaws that their bosses are too lazy or inept to fix systemically. (This is the woman at the airline desk whose duty is to assuage angry passengers when bags don’t arrive.) “Box tickers” go through various motions, often using paperwork or

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Redenomination Risk in the Eurozone

June 5, 2018

In a CEPR discussion paper Christian Bayer, Chi Kim, Alexander Kriwoluzky analyze redenomination risk during the European debt crisis and how the European Central Bank’s interventions affected this risk. They conclude that the risk fell in the case of Italy but increased for France and Germany.
From the abstract:
… first estimate daily default-risk-free yield curves for French, German, and Italian bonds that can be redenominated and for bonds that cannot. Then, we extract the compensation for redenomination risk from the yield spreads between these two types of bonds. Redenomination risk primarily shows up at the short end of yield curves. At the height of the euro crisis, spreads between first-year yields were close to 7% for Italy and up to -2% for Germany. The ECB’s interventions

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Marx was Right—Partly

May 5, 2018

According to René Scheu in the NZZ.
Die zehn «Massregeln» für die «fortgeschrittensten Länder», in die das «Kommunistische Manifest» mündet, lesen sich aus heutiger Sicht wie ein sozialdemokratisches Programm, dem auch viele softbürgerliche Politiker sogleich vorbehaltlos zustimmen würden. Starke Progressivsteuer, Geldmonopol der Nationalbank, Zentralisation des Transportwesens, nationale Industriepolitik, Verstaatlichung des Bauernstandes und unentgeltliche Erziehung aller Kinder gehören längst zu den Errungenschaften avancierter Wohlfahrtsstaaten – damit sind wohlgemerkt bereits sechs der zehn Punkte erfüllt….
Marxens Kritik zielt nicht auf den Unternehmer und Eigentümer als solchen, sondern auf den Bourgeois, der auf der faulen Haut liegt und auf Kosten anderer lebt. …
Der Verfasser

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“Was Vollgeld bringt – und was nicht (Sovereign Money—Pluses and Minuses),” SRF, 2018

April 30, 2018

[embedded content]
Wer soll Franken herstellen dürfen? Nur die Schweizerische Nationalbank, oder auch die Geschäftsbanken wie UBS, CS oder die Kantonalbanken? Ginge es nach der Vollgeld-Initiative, über die wir am 10. Juni abstimmen, wäre künftig klar: Geld als gesetzliches Zahlungsmittel gäbe es nur von der SNB.
Offsetmaschine zum Druck von Schweizer Banknoten bei der Schweizerischen Nationalbank. Keystone – Click to enlarge
Höchst umstritten ist jedoch, welche Folgen es hätte, würde die Schweiz als erstes und einziges Land ihre Währung auf Vollgeld umstellen.
Die Befürworter sagen, das Geld auf dem Bankkonto wäre dann viel sicherer als heute – so sicher wie Bargeld im Tresor. Und zwar auch, wenn dereinst wieder

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CBDC-Skepticism-Skepticism

April 24, 2018

On their blog, Stephen Cecchetti and Kermit Schoenholtz voice doubts regarding the usefulness of universal central bank digital currency (U-CBDC). They argue:
… in an effort to retain their deposit base, commercial banks would surely raise the interest rate they offer to their customers relative to the rate on U-CBDC. … the introduction of U-CBDC would cause a substantial fraction of deposits to shift to the central bank, with the remainder prone to exit in a period of financial stress.
… if the Federal Reserve were to issue U-CBDC, we expect that this would not only hollow out the U.S. commercial banking system, but also destabilize the financial system in a range of countries.
… what would the central bank become? As its U-CBDC liabilities grow, its assets will need to expand as

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Does CBDC Increase Run Risk?

April 16, 2018

Central bankers often argue that CBDC would increase the risk of bank runs. On his blog, JP Koning rejects this notion. After all, he retorts, during a confidence crisis bank customers would no longer have to queue to withdraw cash; lender of last resort support would be provided much more quickly; and “large” cash holders would continue to shift funds into treasury bills, not into CBDC.
Koning writes:
The general criticism here is that during a crisis, households and businesses will desperately shift their deposits into the ultimate risk-free asset: central bank money. Presumably when deposits were only redeemable in banknotes (as is currently the case) and one had to trudge to an ATM to get them, this afforded people time for sober contemplation, thus rendering runs less damaging.

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Elektronisches Zentralbankengeld hat Vorteile

April 13, 2018

– Click to enlarge
Die Schweizerische Nationalbank hat dem E-Franken eine Absage erteilt – zu Unrecht, sagt Dirk Niepelt im Interview mit finews.ch. Der Direktor des SNB-nahen Studienzentrums Gerzensee erklärt, warum digitales Geld Vorteile bringt.
Vergangene Woche hat sich Andréa Mächler, Mitglied des dreiköpfigen Direktoriums der Schweizerischen Nationalbank (SNB), kritisch zur Einführung eines elektronischen Frankens durch die SNB geäussert, wie auch finews.ch berichtete. Im Folgenden geht Dirk Niepelt vom Studienzentrum Gerzensee vertieft auf das Thema einer digitalen Zentralbankenwährung ein und nennt die Auswirkungen, welche diese hätte.
Herr Niepelt, was ist der Unterschied zwischen einer Kryptowährung

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AXA Stops `Vollversicherung’ Model

April 10, 2018

In the NZZ, Werner Enz reports that the insurance company AXA will stop offering “Vollversicherungen.” One motivation relates to the fact that the second pillar in the Swiss pension system is increasingly abused, with redistribution undermining supposedly “individual” accounts.

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Global Heat Map

April 7, 2018

A global heat map based on data collected by the Strava fitness app, representing 700 million activities; a total distance of 16 billion km; and a total recorded activity duration of 100 thousand years.

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None of Your Business

April 5, 2018

Noyb.eu.
Many companies ignore the stringent privacy laws in Europe. This is possible, because it is too complicated and expensive for individual users to claim their rights. noyb will close the gap between law and the reality by collectively enforcing your rights, so that your rights become reality.

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Kontantupproret

April 4, 2018

Kontantupproret (“cash rebellion”) in Sweden—not everybody is pleased with the prospect of a cashless society.
David Crouch reports in The Guardian.

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“Fiscal and Monetary Policies”

April 4, 2018

The Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control has published a special issue with the papers of the conference on “Fiscal and Monetary Policies” that the Study Center Gerzensee co-organized with the JEDC, the St. Louis Fed, the University of Bern, and the Swiss National Bank.
This earlier post contains a link to the conference program.

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Monetary Policy and the Wealth Distribution

March 29, 2018

In a Staff Working Paper, the Bank of England’s Philip Bunn, Alice Pugh, and Chris Yeates discuss how monetary policy easing following the financial crisis affected income and wealth of different age groups.
The authors analyze survey panel data (ONS Wealth and Assets Survey) on households’ characteristics and balance sheet positions. They argue that
the overall effect of monetary policy on standard relative measures of income and wealth inequality has been small. Given the pre-existing disparities in income and wealth, we estimate that the impact on each household varied substantially across the income and wealth distributions in cash terms, but in percentage terms the effects were broadly similar. We estimate that households around retirement age gained the most from the support to

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