My policy related work is directly related to my academic research on armed conflict, political institutions and industrial organisation. I have worked in projects for the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Banco de España, the International Growth Centre (IGC) and the Universal Rights Group.
In my policy projects I have analyzed the economic costs of armed conflict and the factors behind economic recovery post conflict. Building on this research I have conducted a study on the economic benefits of prevention of armed conflict and the prevention of human rights violations. This latter work heavily relies on my academic research on forecasting which I have also used in a study on the role of fiscal capacity building and fragility.
With the Banco de España I am developing a project on forecasting political risks in which we will provide monthly updates of risk for over 190 countries worldwide. This will be made available on through this webpage. I am also engaging in various research projects with the central bank in which we try to improve the forecasting of economic activity.
For the ECA/UN I have conducted a project on structural transformation in Northern Africa and the role of political factors in this transformation. This project was presented to stakeholders of the region in Rabat in 2018.
I have worked on a project with Tim Besley for the IMF in which we try to bring his joint work with Torsten Persson around building state capacity into the world of fragile states. Our advice is that the building fiscal capacity in these contexts needs to pay close attention to the political and cultural realities. This means that so-called "teachable moments" where public services are provided and legitimacy is increased are a key aspect of building a tax system. A key take-away for me from this project was that building new indicators for fragility could be extremely useful.
Key to my research is not a geographic focus but a methodological focus. My goal is to tailor my research to the policy questions but at the same time maintain the academic rigor to provide useful empirical findings. This typically means that I use a wider range of data sources to produce a more conclusive empirical picture.
My background in academic research means I am all too aware of the pitfalls of bad identification. In policy work this is way too often ignored.
However, paying sufficient attention to it is also not feasible. It is simply impossible to run an RCT of to find a good instrument for every policy question one is interested in.
The key is often to combine different data sources, to do more descriptive work and to try and derive a consistent picture of what is going on. However, even here, data is often a biting constraint.