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National Bureau of Economic Research

Conducting and disseminating nonpartisan economic research

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A research summary from the monthly NBER Digest

Managing Foreign-Currency Reserves in Emerging Markets


In the past 15 years, a number of emerging nations have gained the ability to borrow abroad in their own currency. Historically, borrowing in foreign currencies created problems when unexpected shocks hit, as in the Latin American crisis in the 1980s or the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s. Emerging nations prefer to borrow in their local currency because it reduces their exposure to risk. If an adverse shock hits the domestic economy, the currency can depreciate and the government’s debt burden will not increase. The problem is that risk-averse international investors charge a premium for debt in local currency.

Pursuit of a credible monetary policy is often cited as a key factor behind foreign investors’ increasing acceptance of local-currency borrowing by emerging-market nations. In Foreign Reserves Management and Original Sin (NBER Working Paper 30418), Michael B. Devereux and Steve Pak Yeung Wu find that...

From the NBER Reporter: Research, program, and conference summaries

Crisis Innovation: Historical Evidence, Insights, and Open Questions


The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus the potential value of innovation in a crisis: big, new, urgent problems may demand novel solutions. Early on in the pandemic, there were calls from both scientists and policymakers for a focused R&D effort to combat the disease, many invoking past R&D efforts like the Manhattan Project as strategic metaphors for a wartime approach to the pandemic response.

Over the past several years, we have been immersed in studying crisis innovation, primarily through the lens of World War II, when the United States mobilized the country’s fledgling innovation system to tackle dozens of urgent wartime R&D needs, resulting in outputs as varied as radar, mass-produced penicillin, malaria treatments, and atomic fission. This effort was…

From the NBER Bulletin on Retirement and Disability

The 24th Annual Meeting of the Retirement and Disability Research Consortium


The Social Security Administration (SSA) convened its 2022 Retirement and Disability Research Consortium (RDRC) Meeting virtually on August 4–5. The meeting was organized by the NBER RDRC and featured research funded through the NBER RDRC as well as through other RDRC centers based at Boston College, the University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin.

Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of SSA, provided welcoming remarks. She pronounced, “the SSA is initiating a systems approach to research. … A systems approach examines the effects of structural barriers on economic and social well-being. These barriers include policies, programs, and institutional practices that facilitate the security and mobility of some groups while impeding that of others.” She added, “research plays an…

From the NBER Bulletin on Health

Prenatal Insurance Coverage for Undocumented Immigrants Improves Birth Outcomes


Medicaid coverage for prenatal care has expanded considerably in recent decades. But in many states, undocumented immigrants remain ineligible for this coverage. This exclusion is consequential because one in thirteen births in the United States is to an undocumented immigrant. In Covering Undocumented Immigrants: The Effects of a Large-Scale Prenatal Care Intervention (NBER Working Paper 30299), researchers Sarah Miller and Laura Wherry evaluate the effects of California’s decision to expand prenatal Medicaid coverage to undocumented immigrants in...

From the NBER Bulletin on Entrepreneurship

The graph is a bar chart titled "Spillovers to Neighboring Startups by Proximity and Access to Common Areas."    It shows the percentage point increase in the probability of startups adopting peer web technology by physical proximity to neighboring startups and whether startups have access to a common area shared with another startup.  For startups within 20 meters of each other, and for those both with and without a common area, the increase in probability is between around 3 and 3.5 percentage points. How

Startup Chemistry and the Coworking Environment


Startups located in coworking hubs can benefit from knowledge spillovers from their startup neighbors.  In (Co-)Working in Close Proximity: Knowledge Spillovers and Social Interactions (NBER Working Paper 30120), Maria P. Roche, Alexander Oettl,  and Christian Catalini find that knowledge spillovers are greatest among startup workers who socialize but are in moderately dissimilar enterprises.

The researchers studied one of the five largest technological coworking hubs in the nation, where 251 startups were randomly assigned office space in a five…

Featured Working Papers

During the pandemic, unemployment among older adults dropped by 0.5 percentage points in the month in which expanded UI benefits expired in their state, while applications for SSDI increased by 5.2 percent and for concurrent SSDI and SSI by 8.8 percent, according to Gopi Shah GodaEmilie JacksonLauren Hersch Nicholas, and Sarah Stith.

Indicators of firms’ environmental, social, and governance performance are noisy, which confounds estimates of the link between ESG measures and stock returns.  Correcting for measurement error more than doubles the positive effect of ESG indicators, according to Florian BergJulian F. KoelbelAnna Pavlova, and Roberto Rigobon.

Tim SchittekatteDharik S. MallapragadaPaul L. Joskow, and Richard Schmalensee find that time-of-use electricity rates, especially when complemented with critical-peak pricing, can achieve roughly two thirds of the potential gains of fully efficient electricity pricing.

Pennsylvania and West Virginia were governed by investment-return disclosure polices of complete secrecy and full disclosure, respectively, during the shale boom. Thomas R. Covert and Richard L. Sweeney find that full disclosure, by enabling other drillers to benefit from information in the wells drilled by each driller, increased the total value of shale development.

Returns on homes vary directly with their owners’ wealth level and are considerably higher for the very wealthy compared to the middle class and lower wealth households, according to Edward N. Wolff.

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Through a partnership with the University of Chicago Press, the NBER publishes the proceedings of four annual conferences as well as other research studies associated with NBER-based research projects.

Research Spotlights

NBER researchers discuss their work on subjects of wide interest to economists, policymakers, and the general public. Recordings of more-detailed presentations, keynote addresses, and panel discussions at NBER conferences are available on the Lectures page.
Research Spotlight
Research Spotlight
Research Spotlight
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected different subgroups of the population, based on race, ethnicity, and income, in...
Research Spotlight
The COVID-19 pandemic affected businesses in different industries in disparate ways.  Those in customer contact...
Research Spotlight
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was one of the central elements of the pandemic stimulus program. It was designed...
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