We argue that in order to answer the challenges that James Buchanan put to contemporary political economists, a reconstruction of public choice theory building on the work of Buchanan, F.A. Hayek and Vincent Ostrom must take place. Absent such a reconstruction, and the significant challenges that Buchanan raised will continue to go unmet.
Income inequality is often attributed to declines in income mobility following the Great Gatsby curve, but this relationship is of secondary importance in determining the factors of income mobility if one considers that changing rules is more important than changing outcomes under defined rules.
We present a short history of the Virginia School of Political Economy in its institutional settings of University of Virginia (UVA), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, or Virginia Tech (VPI), and George Mason University (GMU). We discuss the original research and educational project as envisioned by Buchanan at UVA, its maturity into a normal science at VPI, and its continuation at GMU.
Nobel laureate James M. Buchanan laid down a new foundation for political economy and classical liberalism. To understand its development, it’s helpful to note Buchanan’s indebtedness to the writings of Frank Knight, Knut Wicksell, and Italian public-finance scholars.
The absence of dominion and discrimination in human relationships is a cardinal feature of a free and just society, according to James Buchanan. If classical liberals emphasized this benefit, they would help assuage the public’s fears about having to take on greater responsibilities if the welfare state were repealed.
More than 40 years ago, Elinor Ostrom began her adventures with the police. In order to combat the conventional view that ‘bigger means better’, Ostrom pioneered a fieldwork-based framework for measuring police services that utilized consumer surveys and thereby created a community-centered model of analysis for public services.
When the stories of the Icelandic and Irish crises are told, they are framed as if one country did everything right to exit recession and the other country everything wrong. This article assesses their recovery policies and finds that the truth lies somewhere in between. By allowing its banking system to suffer substantial losses, Iceland shielded its citizens from the costly debt overhang apparent in Ireland. Ireland's commitment to open capital markets and price deflation has allowed trade flows to remain robust, and relative prices to realign to signal sustainable production plans to entrepreneurs. These responses provide a roadmap for other small open economies with large financial sectors entering similar crises in the future.
“Fragility” is the well-known property of being easily breakable, of failing under moderate stress. The opposite property is “antifragility,” a term coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2012a) and the title of his recent book. In this article, Lawrence White considers how we might achieve antifragile banking and monetary systems. There are reforms that can marginally reduce fragility, but the author argues that to achieve antifragility will require a serious turn away from “one-practice-fits-all” centralized regulation and toward a free market’s mixture of innovation and strict discipline. In banking it will require an end not only to “too big to fail” bailouts
of uninsured creditors and counterparties, but also to other forms of taxpayer-backed depositor and creditor guarantees.
The success of BRAC shows how to overcome public choice dynamics at a
time of crisis. These lessons apply today, but they must be understood correctly.
While creating a small commission or task force to tackle a problem has many
advantages, it is just one aspect of what made BRAC succeed. A spending
commission modeled on BRAC should be focused, independent, composed of
disinterested citizens given clear criteria for their decisions, and be structured in
a way that allows its recommendations to be operative unless Congress rejects
them. This prescription is the only way that a spending commission has a
chance to actually result in spending cuts.
Led astray by Marxist and Keynesian dogma, the literature on the origins of the permanent war economy has overlooked a leading cause of the elevated levels of U.S. military spending since the end of World War II: the economic rents created by the federal government’s monopoly on national defense, and the pursuit of those rents by the labor, industry, and military lobbies. Although the permanent war economy benefits powerful special interest groups, it generates a significant negative externality by diverting resources from other, private uses.
The F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the Mercatus Center hosted a panel discussion featuring Benjamin Powell and his new book, Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy.
The Mercatus Center at George Mason University invites you to join Todd Zywicki, Senior Scholar and Senior Fellow with the F.A. Hayek Program at the Mercatus Center and Ted Gayer, Vice President and Director of the Economic Studies program at the Brookings Institution for a Regulation University program that examines the mistakes agencies make in developing “nudge” regulations and the unintended, but foreseeable, consequences of those mistakes.
Please join us for a casual reception where you can take a break from March Madness and meet some of our scholars who can provide the kind of practical information you need to be most effective in your work.
This book provides a comprehensive defense of third-world sweatshops. It explains how these sweatshops provide the best available opportunity to workers and how they play an important role in the process of development that eventually leads to better wages and working conditions.