Christopher Coyne

Christopher Coyne

  • Associate Director, F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
  • Director of Graduate Programs, George Mason University

Christopher Coyne is associate director of the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and F. A. Harper Professor of Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He is also a professor of economics and director of graduate studies in the economics department at George Mason University. He specializes in Austrian economics, economic development, emerging democracies, postwar and disaster reconstruction, political economy, and social change.

Coyne is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of four books, including, most recently, Doing Bad by Doing Good: Why Humanitarian Action Fails. He is a prolific writer of articles for scholarly journals, has published numerous policy briefs, and also has written for the Daily Caller, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and others.

Coyne is the co–editor in chief of the Review of Austrian Economics, the coeditor of the Independent Review, and the book-review editor of Public Choice. He is a member of the Board of Scholars for the Virginia Institute for Public Policy.

Coyne was a Hayek Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and worked in the internal consulting services at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Coyne received his PhD in economics from George Mason University and his BS in business administration from Manhattan College.

View PDF of Curriculum Vitae.

Published Research

Christopher Coyne | Dec 01, 2013
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.
Peter J. Boettke, Christopher Coyne, Peter Leeson | Sep 2013
Investigations of a society's competitiveness aim to trace the causal mechanisms behind patterns in wealth and poverty across societies. This paper argues that to be productive such investigations must be comparative, historical, and political economic in nature. Comparative historical political economy is how social scientists generate useful knowledge about the wealth and poverty of nations. Our contribution is a methodology – or rather a collection of methodologies – for understanding national competitiveness and attempts to improve it: one focuses on political-economic analysis, another on historical analysis, and a third on comparative analysis.
Christopher Coyne, | Sep 2013
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.
Christopher Coyne | Oct 11, 2011
A crisis is an unexpected event that creates uncertainty and poses a direct or perceived threat to the goals and norms of an organization or society. While crises are ubiquitous, how societies respond to crises, and the way crises affect societies, is largely a matter of constitutional political economy. Drawing on a variety of insights from James Buchanan's research, this paper develops the political economy of crisis.

Working Papers

Christopher Coyne, Lotta Moberg | May 16, 2014
The governments of American states often attempt to incentivize businesses to locate within their borders by offering targeted benefits to particular industries and companies. These benefits come in many forms, including business tax credits for investments, property tax abatements, and reductions in the sales tax. Despite good intentions, policymakers often overlook the unseen and unintended negative consequences of targeted-benefit policies. This paper analyzes two major downsides of these policies: (1) they lead to a misallocation of resources, and (2) they encourage rent-seeking and thus cronyism. We argue that these costs, which are often longer-term and not readily observable at the time the targeted benefits are granted, may very well outweigh any possible short-term economic benefits.
Christopher Coyne, | Aug 01, 2012
Peter J. Boettke, Christopher Coyne, Peter Leeson | Mar 2011
The efficiency of “quasimarkets” — decentralized public goods provision subjected to Tiebout competition — is a staple of public choice conventional wisdom.
Christopher Coyne | Mar 01, 2011
This paper analyzes the political economy of the creeping militarization of U.S. foreign policy. The tools of political economy are used to analyze some of the implications.

Media Clippings

Expert Commentary

Dec 03, 2014

This year, Mercatus scholars share the books they recommend as holiday gifts for anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of how economics plays a role in our everyday lives. While not a comprehensive, the resulting list features some of the greatest economic thinkers whose ideas continue to resonate today.
May 16, 2014

With over half a billion dollars grossed worldwide, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is one of the summer's biggest blockbusters. It's also the largest film production ever made in New York, and as a result, the largest beneficiary of its tax breaks for movie makers. Every year, New York gives roughly $420 million in tax breaks to the film industry alone. Louisiana comes second at $236 million.
May 21, 2013

Based on the high standards of living enjoyed by their citizens, you might think that the governments of First World countries know how to create development. They don’t. Development isn’t created by anyone, not least well-intentioned politicians or development “experts”. The process of improving well-being only takes place in an environment that encourages constant innovation and experimentation.
Feb 20, 2012

It is immensely important that citizens recognize the broader process through which the government expands its powers. Only then may these powers be checked.


Christopher Coyne


Christopher Coyne | Apr 2013
In 2010, Haiti was ravaged by a brutal earthquake that affected the lives of millions. The call to assist those in need was heard around the globe. Yet two years later humanitarian efforts led by governments and NGOs have largely failed.


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