Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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The political economy of policy transitions

By Michael Trebilcock
The long fight to end slavery, led by William Wilberforce, among many others, culminated in Britain with the enactment of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833. This Act made provision for a payment of £20 million (almost 40% of the British budget at the time) in compensation to plantation owners in many British colonies — about US$21 billion in present day value.

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What does the economic future hold for Spain?

By William Chislett
The good news is that Spain has finally come out of a five-year recession that was triggered by the bursting of its property bubble. The bad news is that the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at a whopping 26%, double the European Union average.

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What Coke’s cocaine problem can tell us about Coca-Cola Capitalism

By Bart Elmore
In the 1960s, Coca-Cola had a cocaine problem. This might seem odd, since the company removed cocaine from its formula around 1903, bowing to Jim Crow fears that the drug was contributing to black crime in the South. But even though Coke went cocaine-free in the Progressive Era, it continued to purchase coca leaves from Peru, removing the cocaine from the leaves but keeping what was left over as a flavoring extract.

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Monetary policy, asset prices, and inflation targeting

By David Cobham
The standard arguments against monetary policy responding to asset prices are the claims that it is not feasible to identify asset price bubbles in real time, and that the use of interest rates to restrain asset prices would have big adverse effects on real economic activity. So what happened with central banks and house prices prior to the financial crisis of 2007-8?

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A hidden pillar of the modern world economy

By David Gugerli and Tobias Straumann
In September 1965, Hurricane Betsy devastated parts of Florida and the central United States Gulf Coast. The damage was estimated at $1 billion – so far the costliest natural disaster in US history.

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Collective emotions and the European crisis

By Mikko Salmela and Christian von Scheve
Nationalist, conservative, and anti-immigration parties as well as political movements have risen or become stronger all over Europe in the aftermath of EU’s financial crisis and its alleged solution, the politics of austerity. This development has been similar in countries like Greece, Portugal, and Spain where radical cuts to public services such as social security and health care have been implemented as a precondition for the bail out loans arranged by the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund and countries such as Finland, France, and the Netherlands that have contributed to the bailout while struggling with the crisis themselves.

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Something to like about bitcoin

By Richard S. Grossman
Within months of being introduced in 2009, enthusiasts were hailing bitcoin, the digital currency and peer-to-peer payment system, as the successor to the dollar, euro, and yen as the world’s most important currency. The collapse of the Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange last month has dulled some of the enthusiasm for the online currency.

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Why America must organize innovation

“Organized” and “innovation” are words rarely heard together. But an organized approach to innovation is precisely what America needs today, argue Steve Currall, Ed Frauenheim, Sara Jansen Perry, and Emily Hunter. We sat down with the authors of Organized Innovation: A Blueprint for Renewing America’s Prosperity to discuss why American ought to organize its innovation efforts.

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Did Russia really spend ‘$50 billion’ on the Sochi Olympics?

By Michael Alexeev and Shlomo Weber
Much of the world is now watching the Winter Olympics in Sochi. While most people are primarily interested in the athletic achievements, the fact that the Games are taking place in Russia has also brought the Russian political system, economy, human rights, etc., into focus, inadvertently highlighting the interaction of the still pervasive Soviet legacy and the momentous changes since the collapse of the USSR.

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Is small farm led development still a relevant strategy?

By Peter Hazell and Atiqur Rahman
The case for smallholder development as a win-win strategy for achieving agricultural growth, poverty reduction, and food insecurity is less clear than it was during the green revolution era. The gathering forces of rapid urbanization, a reverse farm size transition towards ever smaller and more diversified farms, and an emerging corporate-driven business agenda in response to higher agricultural and energy prices, is creating a situation where policy makers need to differentiate more sharply between the needs of different types of small farms, and between growth, poverty, and food security goals.

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Peak shopping and the decline of traditional retail

By David M. Levinson
Shopping trips now comprise fewer than 9% of all trips, down from 12.5% in 2000, according to our analysis of the Twin Cities Travel Behavior Inventories. This is consistent with other results from the American Time Use Survey. They are down by about one-third in a decade.

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Super Bowl ads and American civil religion

By Peter Gardella
The two most controversial, apparently contradictory Super Bowl ads—Bob Dylan’s protectionist, “American Import” Chrysler ad and Coca-Cola’s multilingual rendition of  “America the Beautiful”—show the breadth of American civil religion. As religion scholars have long observed, it belongs to the nature of religious language to self-destruct.

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Five myths about the gold standard

By Richard S. Grossman
Although the dollar has had no legal connection to gold since 1973, the gold standard continues to hold an almost mystical appeal for many politicians and commentators. The 2012 Republican Platform called for the creation of a commission to study the possible restoration of the link between the dollar and gold. When asked about the gold standard this summer, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a potential 2016 Republican presidential nominee, replied: “We need to think about our currency that once upon a time had a link to a commodity, and I think we should study it.”

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Locating in a ‘Silicon Valley’ does not guarantee success for tech firms

By Harald Bathelt and Peng-Fei Li
In China and Canada, Shenzhen and Waterloo share the same nickname. Both are frequently viewed as their country’s “Silicon Valley”. Despite this shared name, there are fundamental differences between the two, which can be illustrated by the development of their leading firms. Let’s use the local weather of the two cities as a metaphor to describe the current situation.

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Five important facts about the Italian economy

Though the Eurozone crisis left many European countries struggling in its wake, Italy suffered one of the most crippling hits to its economy. As Gianni Toniolo notes in his edited volume, The Oxford Handbook of the Italian Economy Since Unification, between 2007-2009, there was a “loss of more than 5 percentage points in GDP per person, a decline comparable with that of the Italian Great depression of the early 1930s.”

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Gus Van Harten on investor-state arbitration

What is investor-state arbitration? And how does it impact upon people’s lives? Today, we present a Q&A with Gus Van Harten, author of Sovereign Choices and Sovereign Constraints, where he explains the fundamentals of investor-state arbitration and its place in international law.

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