WORKING PAPERS

JOB MARKET PAPER: "Organised Crime, Captured Politicians and the Allocation of Public Resources"
Joint with Marco Di Cataldo (LSE)

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What is the impact of organised crime on the allocation of public resources and on revenue collection? This paper studies the consequences of the collusion between members of criminal organisations and local politicians in Italian local governments. In order to capture the presence of organised crime, we exploit the staggered enforcement of a national law allowing the dissolution of a municipal government upon evidence of collusion between elected officials and the mafia. We measure the consequences of this collusion by using a newly collected data on public spending, local taxes and elected politicians at the local level. Differences-in-differences estimates reveal that infiltrated local governments spend on average more on construction and waste management, less on policing, and collect fewer fiscal revenues. In addition, we uncover key elements of local elections associated with mafia-politics collusion. In particular, RDD estimates show that infiltration is more likely to occur when right-wing parties win local elections.

"The Effect of News Media on Attitudes: Evidence from Crime Perceptions in Italy"
Joint with Luigi Minale  (CARLOS III)
Revise and Resubmit: Journal of Public Economics

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In modern democracies voters rely on media outlets to learn about politically salient issues. This raises an important question: how strongly can media affect public opinion? This paper studies the case of Italy and uses a natural experiment – the staggered introduction of the Digital TV signal – to measure the effect of media persuasions on the beliefs and perceptions individuals hold. We focus on crime perceptions, and we show that the reduced exposure to crime related news decreased individual concerns about crime. The effect is particularly strong for the elderly who are  more exposed to television and less to other sources of information. Finally, we show that this change in crime perceptions is likely to have important implication for voting behaviour.

"Headlines for Volatility"

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What is the impact of a variation in the nature and transparency of political information on markets behaviour?  This paper attempts to answer this question by studying both theoretically and empirically the impact of political information flows on sovereign volatility during the European Debt Crisis. I develop an extension of a standard Global Game setting and I then test the prediction of the models exploiting a unique Twitter data collection of political news in five European Countries. The estimates reveal that the frequency and the type of political news presented by the media are positively correlated with high volatility for sovereign bonds. Furthermore, I find an interesting cross-country heterogeneity, with the level of volatility being higher in countries whose governments are not perceived as credible.

WORK IN PROGRESS

The Business Model of the Narcos: Criminal Organisations’ Response to the Legalisation of Cannabis in the United States

The Hidden Underworld: Organised Crime and Firms

Television and Immigration: Evidence from the Refugee Crisis. Joint with Luigi Minale (Universidad Carlos III, Madrid)

"Electoral Rules, Gender and Public Spending: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design in Italian Municipalities"

"Local Democracy, Crime and Punishment in the United States". Joint with David Soskice

"The Rise and Fall of Social Democracy, 1918-2017". Joint with Simon Hix (LSE) and Giacomo Benedetto (Royal Holloway, University of London)