Germà Bel

Universitat de Barcelona
Politica Economica i Estructura Economica Mundial
Avd. Diagonal 690
08034 |  Visit Personal Website

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I am developing my analysis of public sector reform, with emphasis on the interaction between governments and markets. I intend to combine theoretical, empirical, and historical approaches. Also, I am working on the policy implications from the theoretical and empirical analysis on privatization and regulation. An important part of my research efforts are devoted to the empirical analysis of privatization, regulation and government reform. In the domain of local government I focus on competition, intermunicipal cooperation and costs. In the domain of transport infrastructure, I am conducting research on the analysis of privatization and regulation of airports and on public private partnerships on toll motorways Regarding the historical analysis of privatization, I am building new analysis based on my research on privatization in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, and on the first democratic privatization experience, Puerto Rico 1948-1950. Based on this ongoing research, I plan to develop a more comprehensive analysis on the history of privatization. This will lead to a comparative analysis of privatization under dictatorships and under democracies. The main hypothesis is that authoritarian privatization is more linked to political objectives, whereas democratic privatization is more closely related to improving efficiency. Besides, transparency under democracy is connected to less corruption in privatization. Furthermore, I plan to open a new line of research, oriented to analyze the factors that explain secessions and formation of new states. This research needs to be of multidisciplinary characteristics, gathering background in economics, political science, sociology of organizations, management of organizations, and psychology.rn

Bel, Germà, Fageda, x., and Warner, M. (2010). “Is Private Production of Public Services Cheaper than Public Production? A Meta-Regression Analysis of Solid Waste and Water Services.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 29(3): 553-577.
Abstract: Privatization of local government services is assumed to deliver cost savings, but empirical evidence for this from around the world is mixed. We conduct a metaregression analysis of all econometric studies examining privatization of water distribution and solid waste collection services and find no systematic support for lower costs with private production. Differences in study results are explained by differences in time period of the analyses, service characteristics, and policy environment. We do not find a genuine empirical effect of cost savings resulting from private production. The results suggest that to ensure cost savings, more attention be given to the cost characteristics of the service, the transaction costs involved, and the policy environment stimulating competition, rather than to the debate over public versus private delivery of these services.
Bel, Germà. (2012). "Infrastructure and the Political Economy of Nation Building in Spain, 1720–2010." London: Sussex Academic Press.
Abstract: This book sets out to explain the very particular characteristics of Spanish infrastructure policy. The capital city of Madrid plays a central role. It not only achieved the status of economic capital of Spain in recent decades but together with its status as administrative and political capital Madrid endowed itself as absolute capital. The challenge is to understand why such development has taken place.rn? First: radial policies in transport infrastructure, which were primarily subordinate to political and administrative objectives, could not be supported by the dynamics of economic activity. For that reason these policies demanded the use of extensive budgetary resources in the form of subsidies and grants that made possible what legislation alone could not achieve. Second: these policies respond to a regular and continuing historical pattern in Spanish politics, which began with the accession to the Spanish Crown of the Bourbon dynasty in the early eighteenth century. The new dynasty tried hard to translate into practice the vision of building a Nation like France, with a Capital like Paris. Third: the enduring strength of this historical pattern allows us to understand why infrastructural policies in Spain today are so unique and different from those of surrounding and comparable countries.
Bel, Germà. (2010). “Against the Mainstream: Nazi Privatization in 1930’s Germany.” Economic History Review, 63(1): 34-55.
Abstract: Nationalization was particularly important in the early 1930s in Germany. The state took over a large industrial concern, large commercial banks, and other minor firms. In the mid-1930s, the Nazi regime transferred public ownership to the private sector. In doing so, they went against the mainstream trends in western capitalistic countries, none of which systematically reprivatized firms during the 1930s. Privatization was used as a political tool to enhance support for the government and for the Nazi Party. In addition, growing financial restrictions because of the cost of the rearmament programme provided additional motivations for privatization.
Albalate, Daniel and Germà Bel, 2012. The Economics and Politics of High-Speed Rail : Lessons from Experiences Abroad . Lexington Books.
Abstract: The technological revolution linked to high speed rail (HSR) has been accompanied by myths and claims about its contribution to society and the economy. Although HSR is unquestionably a technological advance that has become a symbol of modernity, this review and analysis of the international experiences shows that the conditions necessary to have a positive impact, economically, socially and environmentally, are enormously restrictive. The Economics and Politics of High Speed Rail: Lessons from Experiences Abroad introduces the main questions policy makers and scholars should examine when considering and studying HSR implementation, with particular emphasis on the US’s recent interest in this technology and possible application in California. We then review the experiences of the most significant implementations of HSR around the globe. This in-depth international perspective includes chapters on the pioneers of HSR (Japan and France), the European followers (Germany, Spain and Italy), as well as Asian experiences in China, Taiwan, and Korea. This study provides a clear distinction between the myths and realities associated with this transportation innovation. Among the most relevant findings, this study highlights how HSR projects that do not satisfy highly restrictive conditions—on mobility patterns, measured costs, and economically rational designs—that make it desirable have been the source of huge financial debacles and the economic failure of HSR in most cases, which result in unfortunate consequences for taxpayers. The Economics and Politics of High Speed Rail is a rigorous investigation of the economic and political challenges and ramifications of implementing new public transportation technology.

Substantive Focus:
Economic Policy PRIMARY
Comparative Public Policy SECONDARY

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Analysis and Evaluation PRIMARY