An NBER Conference Report

Attempting to Set the Agenda for AI Research

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) highlight the potential of this technology to affect productivity, growth, inequality, market power, innovation, and employment. This newly published NBER conference report, edited by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb, seeks to set the agenda for research on AI’s economic impacts. It covers four broad themes: AI as a general purpose technology; the relationships between AI, growth, jobs, and inequality; regulatory responses to changes brought on by AI; and the effects of AI on the way economic research is conducted. It explores the economic influence of machine learning, the branch of computational statistics that has driven much of the recent excitement around AI, as well as the economic impact of robotics and automation and the potential economic consequences of a still-hypothetical artificial general intelligence.

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The NBER Bulletin on Health

First Edition of Free Bulletin on Health Features
Study of Air Pollution's Effect on Dementia Diagnoses

Researchers exploring the effects of air pollution on dementia find that higher exposure to fine-particulate air pollution increases the probability of receiving a dementia diagnosis. They estimate that the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to regulate this pollution prevented approximately 140,000 dementia diagnoses in 2013, and that the value of the associated increase in length and quality of life exceeded $150 billion. Their study is featured in the new NBER Bulletin on Health. Also featured are studies of intergenerational wounds from the Civil War and the effects of Medicare Advantage plans on opioid prescribing.

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New NBER Research

17 May 2019

Labor Market Power

David W. Berger, Kyle F. Herkenhoff, and Simon Mongey estimate that labor market power in the U.S. economy reduces consumer welfare by between 2.9 and 8 percent of lifetime income, but that such power has not contributed to the declining labor share.

16 May 2019

Monetary Policy, the Exchange Rate , and the Carry Trade

Charles W. Calomiris and Harry Mamaysky find that the correlation between a developed country’s interest rate differential relative to the dollar (carry) and the future returns from investing in its currency switches sign from the pre- to the post-crisis subperiod, while for emerging markets the carry variable is never a significant predictor of returns.

15 May 2019

Policy News and Stock Market Volatility

Scott R. Baker, Nicholas Bloom, Steven J. Davis, and Kyle J. Kost find that 72 percent of newspaper articles on equity market volatility discuss the macroeconomic outlook, while 44 percent discuss commodity markets. The share of articles with attention to government policy trends up between 1985 and the present day, with peaks around 9/11, the 2011 government shutdown, and the months after the 2016 presidential election.
More Research

New Book Examines Personalized and Precision Medicine

Personalized and precision medicine (PPM) — targeting therapies by taking into account factors such as individuals' genetic, environmental, and lifestyle characteristics — is an increasingly important approach to treatment and prevention of illness. Its rise presents challenges to traditional clinical, reimbursement, and regulatory landscapes because it is costly to develop and introduces a wide range of scientific, clinical, ethical, and economic issues. How will information on accuracy of diagnosis and success of treatment be disseminated? Who will bear the cost? Will benefits be available only in developed countries?

Economic Dimensions of Personalized and Precision Medicine, an NBER Conference Report edited by Ernst R. Berndt, Dana P. Goldman, and John W. Rowe, explores the intersection of scientific, clinical, and economic factors affecting development of PPM, including its effects on the drug pipeline, on reimbursement of PPM diagnostics and treatments, and on funding of the underlying research. It also examines recent empirical applications of PPM.

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Lingering Low Interest Rates despite Long Recovery
Indicate the Lasting Shock of the Great Recession

It's common for policymakers to cut interest rates to stimulate an economy after a negative shock, but normally rates would rise as time passes and the economy recoveres. Laura Veldkamp of Columbia University and the NBER analyzes why, more than a decade after the Great Recession, that has not happened.

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The NBER Digest

Depth of the Great Recession and Pace of Recovery
Varied with Local Frictions in Financial Intermediation

In areas of the United States with a higher fraction of fixed-rate mortgages, tighter constraints on refinancing, and less lender capacity to renegotiate loans, recovery following the Great Recession was slower than in other areas because borrowers received the benefits of lower interest rates and national debt-relief policies more slowly, according to a study featured in the May edition of The NBER Digest. Also featured in this issue of the free monthly Digest are studies of income streams of the rich, the decline in middle-skill jobs in urban areas, and fertility trends in the United States, and current U.S. trade policies, and mineral rights sales in Texas.

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NBER in the News

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On the News

Trade War Impacts Rattle Markets, Hit Consumers

With tension ratcheting up in U.S.-China trade relations The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and many other national media outlets are full of reports on the trade war between the world’s biggest economies. The impacts of the conflict have been extensively researched by NBER affiliates in studies such as:

The Return to Protectionism
The Impact of the 2018 Trade War on U.S. Prices and Welfare
The Production Relocation and Price Effects of U.S. Trade Policy: The Case of Washing Machines.

A non-technical summary of trade war impact studies appears in the current edition of the NBER’s free monthly Digest.

The NBER Reporter

Misconduct among Financial Advisers Widely Tolerated;
More Men than Women Are Able to Retain their Jobs

About one in 10 financial advisers who work with clients on a regular basis have a record of misconduct such as misrepresentation, unauthorized trading, and outright fraud that cost the financial industry some $500 million a year, according to researchers who write about their findings in the latest edition of the NBER Reporter. At firms with no female executives, women are 32 percentage points more likely than men to lose their jobs following misconduct. Also featured in this issue of the Reporter are articles on survey expectations, patents and innovation, and charitable-giving behaviors.

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