Karl Whelan

University College Dublin

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  • Professor of Economics and Head of the Economics Department
  • Senior Economist, Deputy Head in the Economic Analysis and Research Department at the Central Bank of Ireland (2002-07)
  • Staff Economist at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Washington DC (1996-2002)
  • CEPR Research Fellow (since 2013)

Voting History

Energy Sources

Question A: Subsidizing renewable energy sources is better than taxing fossil fuels, assuming the subsidy or tax would be set at levels that would reduce carbon emissions by an equivalent amount.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Disagree 6

Question B: Germany’s solar-energy subsidies to date have produced net social benefits for Germany.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Disagree 5

Question C: Solar-energy subsidies to date in Germany and other countries have produced net social benefits for the world.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Uncertain 5

Behavioral Economics

Insights from psychology about individual behavior – examples of which include limited rationality, low self-control, or a taste for fairness – predict several important types of observed market outcomes that fully-rational economic models do not.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Agree 8

Refugees in Germany

The influx of refugees into Germany beginning in the summer of 2015 will generate net economic benefits for German citizens over the succeeding decade.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 7
Germany has very poor demographics and its population is set to contract. Taking in immigrants will have many long-term economic benefits.
Uncertain 6

Robots and Artificial Intelligence

Question A: Holding labor market institutions and job training fixed, rising use of robots and artificial intelligence is likely to increase substantially the number of workers in advanced countries who are unemployed for long periods.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Uncertain 6

Question B: Rising use of robots and artificial intelligence in advanced countries is likely to create benefits large enough that they could be used to compensate those workers who are substantially negatively affected for their lost wages.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Agree 6

Ride Sharing

Question A: Consumers will be better off, on balance, if European cities treat firms that provide ride-sharing platforms (such as Uber) as substantively different from taxi firms, and thus not necessarily warranting the same regulation.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Disagree 8
The business of these firms is not substantively different from taxis, so I don't see why they should be treated differently.
Uncertain 6

Question B: Assuming that taxi and ride-sharing companies were treated as substantively similar — including requirements that they operate on an equal footing regarding safety, insurance and taxation — letting ride-sharing services compete without restrictions on prices or routes would raise consumer welfare.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Strongly Agree 10
Imposing restrictions on a particular sub-set of the market is unfair and hurts consumers.
Agree 7

Question C: Regardless of how ride-sharing services are treated, existing regulations for traditional taxi firms in many European cities harm consumers by limiting competition.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Strongly Agree 10
Restrictive regulations relating to pricing or quantity supplied are rarely a good idea unless there is a clear market failure.
Agree 7

France’s Labor Market

Question A: Revising France’s labor market policies — by reducing employment protection, decentralizing labor negotiations to the firm level, and making training programs more accessible and responsive to labor demands — would, all else equal, increase productivity in France’s economy.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 4
Probably not a big effect. Would also bring some relatively lower productivity workers into employment This would lower average productivity
Agree 7

Question B: Reducing employment protection would reduce the equilibrium unemployment rate in France.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Strongly Agree 7
It is likely that high levels of employment protection raise the natural rate of unemployment. But this is just one of many factors.
Agree 7

ECB Asset Purchases

Question A: The ECB's asset purchases over the past two years have reduced the threat of deflation in the euro area as a whole.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 6
QE is complex but most careful research shows it impacts long-term rates. ECB program has definitely reduced sovereign borrowing rates.
Agree 7

Question B: If the economic outlook in the euro area becomes less favorable, then increasing the ECB's asset purchase program (in size or duration) would substantially increase the euro area's economic growth over the following five years.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Disagree 6
The disagreement is because of the word "substantial". Not sure that any realistic policy can "substantially" improve European growth rates.
Uncertain 6

Diversified Investing

In general, absent any inside information, an equity investor can expect to do better by holding a well-diversified, low-fee, passive index fund than by holding a few stocks.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Strongly Agree 10
Strongly Agree 9

Aging

Question A: Without changes in policy, a rising share of people who are over age 65 will exert a substantial downward influence on per capita real GDP in western European countries.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 8
Agree 7

Question B: In European countries where the share of those over 65 is rising, there are net social benefits to adjusting retirement ages for state-financed (including pay-as-you-go) pension systems upwards, so that revised retirement ages better reflect longer life expectancies.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Strongly Agree 10
Agree 8

City of London

Question A: All else equal, there are substantial advantages to having much of Europe’s human capital and infrastructure for international financial activity clustered in a single city, as they are at present in London.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Disagree 5
There may be some wider advantages for Europe due to the clustering of financial service activity in London but it is likely to be small.
Agree 7

Question B: All else equal, Britain’s rules on hiring, firing and working hours are significantly more conducive to financial activity than those in other large European countries.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Strongly Disagree 8
I don't believe labour laws in France, Germany or Ireland, for example, will be a deterring factor for financial service firms.
Agree 7

Italy’s Banks

Question A: Setting the EU rules aside, and assuming it would take 2.5% of Italy’s GDP to recapitalize its banks, the Italian government would improve financial stability in Europe if it injected this amount of public funds into its banks.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 3
This may improve financial stability in the short-run but probably sets a bad fiscal precedent for other European governments in the future.
Agree 7

Question B: If Italy were to inject public funds into its banks without imposing losses on at least some claimants, an important cost would be the effect on future incentives (economic or political) in Europe.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 5
This would undermine the EU's BRRD approach though it always seemed likely loss imposition was more a policy intended for small countries.
Agree 8

Privatization in Central and Eastern Europe

On the whole, the shift from state to private ownership of many industrial assets in central and eastern European countries after communism has increased productivity in those countries.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 4
Agree but moving from state-sponsored monopolies to badly-regulated private sector monopolies does not do much for the average consumer.
Strongly Agree 8

Migration Within Europe

Question A: Freer movement of people to live and work across borders within Europe has made the average western European citizen better off since the 1980s.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 8
Agree, though effects on the average person are not the same as on every person.
Agree 8

Question B: Freer movement of people to live and work across borders within Europe has made many low-skilled western European citizens worse off since the 1980s.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Disagree 1
Empirical evidence on effects of migration from Eastern Europe suggest limited effects on wages in the UK for example.
Disagree 6

Trade Within Europe

Question A: Freer movement of goods and services across borders within Europe has made the average western European citizen better off since the 1980s.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 5
I agree but evidence on productivity suggests that the gains from this kind of liberalisation have been smaller than anticipated.
Strongly Agree 8

Question B: Freer movement of goods and services across borders within Europe has made many low-skilled western European citizens worse off since the 1980s.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Disagree 9
Eastern European immigration has had limited effects on wages in Western Europe. Trade liberalisation with non-EU areas more important.
Disagree 7

Congestion Pricing

In general, using more congestion charges in crowded transportation networks — such as higher tolls during peak travel times in cities, and peak fees for airplane takeoff and landing slots — and using the proceeds to lower other taxes would make citizens on average better off.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 7
If we are going to tax things (and we have to) it's best to tax things that have negative effects such as congestion, alcohol, carbon etc.
Strongly Agree 8

Local Tax Incentives

Question A: Giving tax incentives to specific firms to locate operations in a country typically generates domestic benefits that outweigh the costs to the country providing the incentives.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Uncertain 5
This can be true but governments aren't always great at "picking winners." Some special local tax rates are probably just bad ideas.
Uncertain 6

Question B: Europe as a whole benefits when European cities or countries compete with each other by giving tax incentives to firms to locate operations in their jurisdictions.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Strongly Disagree 8
This kind of process drives down average corporate tax rates across the EU. There are probably better ways to cut taxes.
Disagree 7

Brexit

Question A: Because of the Brexit vote's outcome, the UK's real per-capita income level is likely to be lower a decade from now than it would have been otherwise.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Strongly Agree 9
Tarriffs & non-tarriff barriers with the EU $ the likely re-introduction of state aids and subsidies will have negative supply-side effects.
Agree 8

Question B: Because of the Brexit vote's outcome, the rest of the EU's real per-capita income level is likely to be lower a decade from now than it would have been otherwise.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 5
The trade impact on the rest of the EU will be proportionately less than for the UK but this is still a negative.
Agree 7

About the European IGM Economic Experts Panel

This panel explores the views of European economists on vital public policy issues. It does this by polling them on important policy questions, by including a way for them to explain their answers briefly if they wish, and by disseminating these responses directly to the public in a simple format.

To that end, our panel was chosen to include distinguished experts with a keen interest in public policy from the main areas of economics, to be geographically diverse, and to include older and younger scholars. As with the IGM’s US panel, the experts are all outstanding researchers in their fields. The panel includes recipients of top national and international prizes in economics, fellows of the Econometric society and the European Economic Association, members of distinguished national and international policymaking bodies in Europe, recipients of significant grants for economic research, highly accomplished affiliates and program directors of the Centre for Economic Policy Research and the National Bureau of Economic Research, and past and current editors of leading academic journals in the profession. This approach not only provides a set of panelists whose names will be familiar to other economists and the media, but also delivers a group with impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters in Europe and beyond.

Questions for the European IGM Economic Experts Panel are emailed individually to all members of the panel. They are phrased as statements with which one can agree or disagree. The experts are also asked how confident they are in their knowledge of the issue associated with the question (10 being highest). Each panelist responds electronically at his or her convenience. Panelists may consult whatever resources they like before answering. They may also include brief comments with their responses, or provide links to relevant sources.

It is important to explain one aspect of our voting process. In some instances a panelist may neither agree nor disagree with a statement, and there can be two very different reasons for this. One case occurs when an economist knows a lot about a topic and yet sees the evidence on the exact claim at hand as ambiguous. In such cases our panelists vote "uncertain". A second case relates to statements on topics so far removed from the economist's knowledge that he or she does not feel well placed to judge. In this case, our panelists vote "no opinion".

Panelists suggest many of the questions themselves. Members of the public are also welcome to suggest questions (see link below). Although IGM faculty members are responsible for deciding the final version of each question, we send a draft of the question to the panel in advance and invite them to point out problems with the wording if they see any. This process helps us to reduce vagueness or problems of interpretation.

The panel data are copyrighted by the Initiative on Global Markets and will be analyzed for an article to appear in a peer-reviewed journal.

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