This chapter discusses the story of European integration in what is known as the European Union. The decision in 1951 by six European nations to pool coal and steel production under a common authority—the European Coal and Steel Community—marked the beginning of European integration. French statesman and political visionary Robert Schuman proposed the coal and steel community in 1950. The chapter also highlights that the 28-member European Union, built around common policies and shared institutions, has proved robust to many challenges and has accommodated great change used by 18 countries. The European Union was also awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. The study shows that the 2008 global financial crisis laid bare fault lines, exposing tensions between EU members and stresses and gaps in institutions and policies that Europe’s political leaders are working hard to address. The IMF’s chief for Europe argues that what Europe needs is more integration, not less.
We leverage insights from machine learning to optimize the tradeoff between bias and
variance when estimating economic models using pooled datasets. Specifically, we develop a
simple algorithm that estimates the similarity of economic structures across countries and
selects the optimal pool of countries to maximize out-of-sample prediction accuracy of a
model. We apply the new alogrithm by nowcasting output growth with a panel of 102
countries and are able to significantly improve forecast accuracy relative to alternative pools.
The algortihm improves nowcast performance for advanced economies, as well as emerging
market and developing economies, suggesting that machine learning techniques using pooled
data could be an important macro tool for many countries.