We investigate the market for news under two assumptions: that readers hold beliefs which they like to see confirmed, and that newspapers can slant stories toward these beliefs. We show that, on the topics where readers share common beliefs, one should not expect accuracy even from competitive media: competition results in lower prices, but common slanting toward reader biases. On topics where reader beliefs diverge (such as politically divisive issues), however, newspapers segment the market and slant toward extreme positions. Yet in the aggregate, a reader with access to all news sources could get an unbiased perspective. Generally speaking, reader heterogeneity is more important for accuracy in media than competition per se. (JEL D23, L82)
James Michael Curley, a four-time mayor of Boston, used wasteful redistribution to his poor Irish constituents and incendiary rhetoric to encourage richer citizens to emigrate from Boston, thereby shaping the electorate in his favor. As a consequence, Boston stagnated, but Curley kept winning elections. We present a model of using redistributive politics to shape the electorate, and show that this model yields a number of predictions opposite from the more standard frameworks of political competition, yet consistent with empirical evidence.
Building on Vijh (Rev. Financial Stud. 7 (1994)), we use additions to the S&P 500 to distinguish two views of return comovement: the traditional view, which attributes it to comovement in news about fundamental value, and an alternative view, in which frictions or sentiment delink it from fundamentals. After inclusion, a stock’s beta with the S&P goes up. In bivariate regressions which control for the return of non-S&P stocks, the increase in S&P beta is even larger. These results are generally stronger in more recent data. Our findings cannot easily be explained by the fundamentals-based view and provide new evidence in support of the alternative friction- or sentiment-based view.
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We investigate the regulation of labor markets through employment, collective relations, and social security laws in 85 countries. We find that the political power of the left is associated with more stringent labor regulations and more generous social security systems, and that socialist, French, and Scandinavian legal origin countries have sharply higher levels of labor regulation than do common law countries. However, the effects of legal origins are larger, and explain more of the variation in regulations, than those of politics. Heavier regulation of labor is associated with lower labor force participation and higher unemployment, especially of the young. These results are most naturally consistent with legal theories, according to which countries have pervasive regulatory styles inherited from the transplantation of legal systems.