Intereconomics - Review of European Economic Policy
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Newsletter – Volume 53,
January/February 2018

The first Intereconomics issue of 2018 features a Forum on the impact of behavioural economics on public policy. Inspired by Richard Thaler’s Nobel prize last autumn, the Forum examines the policy opportunities presented by nudging and similar behavioural methods, as well as the challenges and potential downsides. One highlight is an article by Cass Sunstein, Thaler’s frequent co-author, and Lucia Reisch, who look into people’s acceptance of government nudges – do they resent being manipulated? Or do they find nudges more acceptable than outright bans and policy prescriptions? This issue’s Editorial, by Pierre Moscovici, and Letter from America, by Barry Eichengreen, both look at renewed EU optimism and assess whether it is warranted. Finally, the issue also features interesting articles on helicopter money, the winners of trade wars, the sustainability of eurozone debt and European fiscal coordination. Enjoy!

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Featured Topic

Nudging in Public Policy: Application, Opportunities and Challenges

One of the most discussed ideas in contemporary policy making is Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s proposal to influence people’s choices without coercing them by improving the “architecture” of their choices. Many governments have implemented behaviourally informed policies, focusing on “nudges” – interventions that preserve freedom of choice, but that also steer people in certain directions. This Forum addresses both the opportunities and challenges presented by the application of behavioural insights to policy making. What do citizens actually think about behaviourally informed policies? Is this method of influencing choices ethically acceptable? Should the findings of behavioural economics be alarming to normative economists, in that they threaten the grounds upon which economists evaluate alternatives?

Vacancy Announcement

Vacancy Announcement

Intereconomics is looking to hire a new editor as a maternity leave replacement! Apply at

Additional Highlights from the Current Issue

Europe in 2018: Less Populist, More Popular?

A year ago, Europe seemed to be under siege by populist forces. The worst of those fears proved unfounded. However, while Europe’s far-right surge has stalled, the populist threat has certainly not gone away. Furthermore, despite the encouraging economic developments, there are persistent divergences between euro area economies. European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici details how Europe should face these challenges in 2018.

Is Renewed EU Optimism Justified?

In this issue's Letter from America, Barry Eichengreen throws some cold water on talk of renewed EU optimism. The European economy may continue to grow, but if something does interrupt that growth, the EU will discover that it still lacks the institutional tools to resolve major problems. This year might well be another one of much talk but little actual progress on institutional reform.

Who Benefits from Trade Wars?

Even though economists keep on emphasising the benefits of international trade, protectionism is on the rise in many industrialised countries. Wolfgang Lechthaler and Mariya Mileva argue that a potential explanation for this phenomenon can be found in the short-run distributional effects of import tariffs: while protectionism hurts the economy from an aggregate perspective (i.e. GDP goes down), unskilled workers in import-competing sectors benefit in the short run and do not lose in the long run. They might therefore lend political support to protectionism.


From the Next Issue

Forum: Solving the Productivity Paradox

with articles by Bart van Ark, Cecilia Jona-Lasinio and more

Digitalisation as Enabler of a Sustainable Circular Economy?

by Adriana Neligan

The Supply of “Safe” Assets and Fiscal Policy

by Ludger Schuknecht


Quote of the Month

While behavioural economics has emerged rather recently as a new and heavily underexploited policy tool to promote consumer interests and restore market failures, its underlying principles have been well understood – and heavily exploited – by companies for decades.


About Intereconomics – Review of European Economic Policy

Intereconomics is jointly produced by ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics and the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS). The journal appears bimonthly and features papers by economists that deal with economic and social policy issues and trends in Europe or affecting Europe. To submit a paper for publication, please visit the Submissions section of our website for relevant information.

Intereconomics is published by Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

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