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External Seminar

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Upcoming seminars 2020-2021

  • February 22, 11.00
    Christoph Trebesch (Kiel Institute for the World Economy and Kiel University)
    - "Coping with disasters: two centuries of international official lending" (with S. Horn and C. M. Reinhart).


Official (government-to-government) lending is much larger than commonly known, often surpassing total private cross-border capital flows, especially during disasters such as wars, financial crises and natural catastrophes. We assemble the first comprehensive long-run dataset of official international lending, covering 230,000 loans, grants and guarantees extended by governments, central banks, and multilateral institutions in the period 1790-2015. Historically, wars have been the main catalyst of government-to-government transfers. The scale of official credits granted in and around WW1 and WW2 was particularly large, easily surpassing the scale of total international bailout lending after the 2008 crash. During peacetime, development finance and financial crises are the main drivers of official cross-border finance, with official flows often stepping in when private flows retrench. In line with the predictions of recent theoretical contributions, we find that official lending increases with the degree of economic integration. In crises and disasters, governments help those countries to which they have greater trade and banking exposure, hoping to reduce the collateral damage to their own economies. Since the 2000s, official finance has made a sharp comeback, largely due to the rise of China as an international creditor and the return of central bank cross-border lending in times of stress, this time in the form of swap lines.

  • March 15, 11.00
    Hans Koster (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
    - TBA

  • March 22, 11.00
    Anna Dreber (Stockholm School of Economics)
    - TBA

  • May 17, 11.00
    Emanuele Campiglio (University of Bologna)
    - "Optimal climate policy in the face of tipping points and asset stranding" (with S. Dietz and F. Venmans).

Past seminars 2020-2021

  • September 21, 11.00
    Andrea Tesei (Queen Mary University of London)
    - "Information, Technology Adoption and Productivity: The Role of Mobile Phones in Agriculture" (with A. Gupta and J. Ponticelli).


We study the effect of information on technology adoption and productivity in agriculture. Our empirical strategy exploits the expansion of the mobile phone network in previously uncovered areas of rural India coupled with the availability of call centers for agricultural advice. We measure information on agricultural practices by analyzing the content of 2.5 million phone calls made by farmers to one of India’s leading call centers for agricultural advice. We find that areas receiving coverage from new towers and with no language barriers between farmers and advisers answering their calls experience higher adoption of high yielding varieties of seeds and other complementary inputs, as well as higher increase in agricultural productivity. Our estimates indicate that information frictions can explain around 25 percent of the agricultural productivity gap between the most productive and the least productive areas in our sample.

  • September 28, 11.00
    Björn Bartling (University of Zurich)
    - "Free to Fail? Paternalistic Preferences in the U.S." (with A. Cappelen, H. Hermes, M. Skivenes and B. Tungodden).


We study paternalistic preferences in a large-scale experiment, where 14,000 people sampled from the general population of the U.S., have the option to intervene and prevent additionally sampled, real workers from making consequential mistakes. Our data show that the nature of an intervention affects peoples’ willingness to intervene substantially: people are much more willing to provide information than to restrict freedom of choice, even if the outcome is identical. We propose a simple formal framework that allows us to categorize people as either non-interventionists, liberal paternalists, or hard paternalists, and we study the relation of type classification and background characteristics.


This paper examines the exchange rate policy in a two-country model with nominal wage rigidities and firm dynamics. We first show that a flexible exchange rate is unable to replicate the flexible price allocation because of the inefficiency generated by incomplete financial markets. In our setting with heterogeneous firms, a monetary intervention aimed at dampening nominal exchange rate fluctuations stabilizes the firm selection in the export market. The reduction in wage setting uncertainty ensured by a fixed exchange rate is particularly relevant when firms are small and homogeneous, thus providing a rationale for the fear of floating in exchange rate policies.

  • November 30, 11.00
    Christian Zehnder (University of Lausanne)
    - "Building an Equilibrium: Rules versus Principles in Relational Contracts"


Effective organizations are able to adapt members’ strategies to unforeseen change in an efficient manner. We study when relational contracts enable organizations to achieve this. Specifically, in a novel experiment we explored the hypothesis that basing a relational contract on general principles rather than on specific rules is more successful in achieving efficient adaptation. In our Baseline condition, we indeed observe that, compared to pairs who relied on specific rules, those who articulated general principles achieved significantly higher performance after change occurred. Underlying this correlation, we also find that pairs with principle-based agreements were more likely both to expect and to take actions that were consistent with what their relational contract prescribed. To investigate whether there is a causal link between principle-based agreements and performance, we implemented a "Nudge" intervention intended to foster principle-based relational contracts. The Nudge succeeded in causing more pairs to articulate principles, but the intervention failed to increase performance after the shock because many of the pairs induced to articulate principles then did not take actions that were consistent with their relational contracts. In short, our results suggest that (1) principle-based relational contracts may improve organizational performance, but also that (2) high-performing relational contracts may be difficult to build.

  • December 7, 11.00
    Michel Maréchal (University of Zürich)
    - "The Right to be Heard: A Randomized Controlled Trial on Economizing Procedural Justice"


The right to be heard is a fundamental principle underlying most legal systems and constitutes a basic human right. Legal scholars argue that the right to be heard is essential for the rule of law because it helps achieving truth and legitimizes judicial sentencing. On the other hand, hearings are labor and time intensive, leading to an overloaded criminal justice system, particularly for mass crimes. We experimentally evaluate the importance of hearings in the context of a large-scale reform of the Swiss Criminal Procedure Code, which delegated sentencing power from courts to the prosecutors through the means of penal orders. As a consequence of the reform, prosecutors sentence offenders by sending them a penal order that is solely based on police reports in roughly 90% of all criminal proceedings, de facto removing the defendants’ right of being heard. We conducted a field experiment in collaboration with a public prosecution office in Switzerland and randomly invited defendants to participate in a prosecutorial hearing, allowing us to investigate the causal effect of hearings on prosecutorial sentencing, perceptions of procedural fairness, and recidivism.

Past External Seminars (all years)



  • Monday 15 March 11:00-12:15 - Hans Koster - Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

    External Seminar Hans Koster

  • Monday 22 March 11:00-12:15 -

    External Seminar Anna Dreber

  • Monday 26 April 11:00-12:15 - Bettina Rockenbach

    External Seminar Bettina Rockenbach

  • Monday 10 May 11:00-12:15 - Alexander Cappelen - NHH

    External Seminar Alexander Cappelen

  • Monday 17 May 11:00-12:15 - Emanuele Campiglio - University of Bologna

    External Seminar Emanuele Campiglio

  • Monday 21 June 11:00-12:15 - Mathias Kifmann - Universität Hamburg

    External Seminar Mathias Kifmann

  • Monday 28 June 11:00-12:15 - Urszula Szczerbowicz - Banque de France

    External Seminar Urszula Szczerbowicz

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