A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University shows that the sunset review process can also be seen as an effective bargaining tool for the legislature to minimize the executive branch’s influence on a wide variety of state boards and agencies. It is a way for the legislature to make its veto power credible and to have influence over an agency’s agenda, which is also influenced by special interests and the executive branch.
Authorization for the Export-Import Bank of the United States recently lapsed for the first time in more than 80 years, though it may be reestablished at any time. We present an economic efficiency analysis of bank’s activities in a simple open-economy model. This analysis brings clarity to the ongoing political debate regarding this institution. We discuss key arguments in support of and against the bank’s continued activities. We highlight the special privileges that the bank offers to a few domestic businesses, negatively distorting the private market opportunities in the markets in which these favored businesses operate and widely distributing the economic costs across nonfavored constituencies.
In a new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, economist Steven Horwitz examines several government policies and concludes that regulations and taxes prevent upward mobility by burdening the poor more heavily than those who are better off. Many of these regulations and taxes are products of the private interests of current producers who stand to benefit from government encroachment into business.
A new paper for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University gathers and analyzes economic research on transportation benefit-cost analysis and the voting behavior of politicians, and concludes that current transportation infrastructure spending policies lead to inefficient decisions and are often driven by political forces.
A new study published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University surveys the current economic literature on research and development tax incentives. The study investigates design and implementation problems the R&D credit faces, including legal ambiguities, policy uncertainty, insufficient definitions of “research,” and special-interest lobbying.
In new research for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Senior Research Fellow Eileen Norcross ranks each US state’s financial health based on short- and long-term debt and other key fiscal obligations, including unfunded pensions and health care benefits. The study, which builds on previous Mercatus research about state fiscal conditions, provides information from the states’ audited financial reports in an easily accessible format, presenting an accurate snapshot of each state’s fiscal health.
Many observers think that it is impossible to cut federal government spend- ing as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But it can be done. And the evidence is hidden in plain sight: it’s called the 1990s. Between 1990 and 2000, federal spending fell from 21.85 percent of GDP to 18.22 percent, a drop of 3.6 percentage points. Most of the reduction was in defense spending after the Cold War ended. Domestic spending also fell slightly as a percentage of GDP. This drop cannot be attributed to higher economic growth in the 1990s because average growth in the 1990s was the same as growth in the previous two decades.
In a new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, economist Robert Krol demonstrates that governments are more likely to set up barriers to new technology when the performance advantage of the new technology is small or incremental and lobbying costs are low. Incumbent businesses threatened by a new technology may use the government to block businesses using the new technology from entering the market. Ultimately, government protection of incumbent businesses reduces consumer well-being.
The idea that banks are special was most succinctly summarized by Gerald Corrigan more than 30 years ago in an analysis prepared for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, where Corrigan was president at the time. With the help of his mentor, then Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, his analysis pondered the characteristics of banks that make them special; justified the provision of a supporting safety net for banks based on financial stability concerns; and detailed the costs and restrictions that banks must subject themselves to. But the years since Corrigan’s analysis have seen two severe financial crises,and as the crisis of 2007–2009 clearly revealed, banks are not special, as the
safety net was applied to a wide range of nonbank institutions. The Dodd-Frank Act was intended to cut back on the safety net by giving financial authorities wide discretion, but the right approach to rein in the safety net would be to cut back its beneficiaries…
Are all of the rules and regulations governing economic activity a product of central planning or legislation? Edward Stringham argues that much of what is orderly in the economy can actually be attributed to governing mechanisms devised and enforced by private groups and individuals.
Luigi Zingales, one of the world’s foremost thinkers on financial development and capitalism, will join Tyler Cowen for a wide-ranging, intellectual dialogue as part of the "Conversations with Tyler" series.
This book presents 17 oral histories of Hurricane Katrina survivors from four diverse New Orleans communities. The oral histories explore how these individuals, families, and communities began to rebuild after the devastation.