Mercatus Site Feed http://mercatus.org/feeds/home/publication/publication/bruce-yandle en The Economic Situation, September 2014 http://mercatus.org/publication/economic-situation-september-2014 <h5> Publication </h5> <div class="page" title="Page 1"><div class="layoutArea"><p>In the June Situation report, I promised a better second-half economy. I did more than keep my promise. The first estimate for 2Q2014 GDP growth brought a steaming 4.0 percent, along with an upward revision of lQ2014’s growth from minus 2.9 percent to minus 2.1 percent. We swung high after swinging low.</p><p>I<span style="font-size: 11.818181991577148px;">s this too good to be true? I am afraid so. Are we headed toward a steaming second half? No steam, but better than lukewarm positive growth. Look for calm waters. </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 11.818181991577148px;"> I am not suggesting that Department of Commerce economists fudged the number. No, not at all. What I am saying is that 1.66 percentage points of that 4.0 percent came from increased inventories. Subtract the 1.66 and you get 2.3 percent, which is closer to the real thing. The problem here relates to intended versus unintended build-up. If all producers taken together believe the economy is moving into high gear, then more packing the store is called for. But if those producers made an earlier miscalculation, the unintended buildup will be corrected. It’s final sales that count. </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 11.818181991577148px;"> I think there is some miscalculation reflected in that 4.0 percent number; we should look for 2.3 percent in 3Q2014 and 3.0 percent in the year’s final quarter. If that happens, GDP growth for the year will hit 1.7 percent, and that’s a bit pale considering that 2013 hit 1.9 percent and 2012, 2.8 percent.</span></p> <p>As shown in the accompanying chart, which gives estimates for 2014 and 2015, at least one other forecaster agrees. I call attention to the general agreement that 2015 will generate 3.0 percent growth.</p> <p><b>Recession in 2018?</b></p> <p>For more than a year, in presentations around the country, I have included this orange-backed summary of GDP growth expectations. In just one of these events, someone in the audience objected. “I don’t know of any other economist who is even talking about a recession . . . any time,” was the comment. I responded by explaining why I was predicting a 2018 recession. My forecast was based largely on the fact that the United States has a recession about every five years, and that most of those were caused when the Federal Reserve Board, out of fear of inflation, hit the monetary brakes, and the economy hit the ditch. With this expansion long in the tooth, but still with no evidence of meaningful inflation, I hold the opinion that inflation will show up and then get a Fed stiff-arm around 2018.</p> <p>For what it’s worth, I am no longer a Lone Ranger on the matter. “How long will the expansion last?” asked the August 16th <i>Economist </i>(p. 22). The answer? Until 2018. The logic? The same as mine. Of course, this doesn’t say to mark your calendars and batten down the hatches. We could both be wrong. It does say that there is a historical and an analytical basis for expecting a recession in the next three to four years.</p> <p><a href="http://mercatus.org/sites/default/files/Yandle_Economic-Situation_Sept-2014.pdf">Continue reading</a></p></div></div> http://mercatus.org/publication/economic-situation-september-2014 Fri, 29 Aug 2014 16:41:09 -0400 More-Regulated Industries Experience Lower Productivity Growth http://mercatus.org/publication/more-regulated-industries-experience-lower-productivity-growth <h5> Publication </h5> <p class="p1">When confronted with regulation, producers are likely to alter production levels and processes in ways that they would not have otherwise chosen. We also expect competition to decline in heavily regulated markets since the burden imposed by regulation functions as a barrier to new firms who wish to enter the market. Consequently, productivity in industries should decline as the regulatory burden placed on them increases. From 1997 through 2010, productivity in the least regulated industries grew almost twice as fast as in the most regulated industries.</p><p class="p1"><a href="http://mercatus.org/sites/default/files/labor-productivity-davies-large_0.png"><img src="http://mercatus.org/sites/default/files/labor-productivity-davies-small.png" /></a></p> <p class="p1">Regulatory burden is measured using RegData, a text analysis tool that counts the number of binding words—“shall,” “must,” “may not,” “prohibited,” and “required”—that appear in the Code of Federal Regulations and cross-references those word counts with the industries to which they apply. Comparing this data to production-efficiency measures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that industries that are subject to less regulation have significantly higher production-efficiency measures than industries that are subject to more regulation.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">From 1997 through 2010, the least regulated industries experienced 63-percent growth in output per person, 64-percent growth in output per hour, and a four-percent decline in unit labor costs. Over the same period, the most regulated industries experienced 33-percent growth in output per person, 34-percent growth in output per hour, and a 20-percent increase in unit labor costs. <a href="http://mercatus.org/publication/regulation-and-productivity">The data appear to confirm</a> that greater regulatory burden is associated with lower levels of industry productivity.&nbsp;</p> http://mercatus.org/publication/more-regulated-industries-experience-lower-productivity-growth Fri, 29 Aug 2014 10:06:12 -0400 Net Neutrality and Maintaining a Free and Open Internet http://mercatus.org/events/net-neutrality-and-maintaining-free-and-open-internet <h5> Events </h5> <p>Net neutrality regulations would&nbsp;mandate that essentially all data on the Internet be treated the same by Internet service providers (ISPs), with many supporters calling on the FCC to prohibit “Internet fast lanes.” But are there situations in which different treatment of broadband traffic is good? What role should the government play in ever-changing broadband markets?</p> <p>On behalf of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, you are invited to a Capitol Hill Campus presentation featuring Mercatus Research Fellow Brent Skorup.</p> <p>This program will:</p><ul><li><span style="font-size: 12px;">Provide an introduction to net neutrality and briefly explain the history of the debate;</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 12px;">Lay out the arguments for and against net neutrality; and</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 12px;">Discuss mechanisms to ensure the Internet remains a vibrantly free conduit and tool for ideas, innovation and economic growth.</span></li></ul> <p>Space is limited. Please register online for this event.</p> <p>This event is free and open to all congressional and federal agency staff. This event is not open to the general public. Food will be provided. Due to space constraints, please no interns. <i>Questions? Please contact Caitlyn Van Orden, Event Coordinator, at <a href="mailto:cvanorden@mercatus.gmu.edu">cvanorden@mercatus.gmu.edu</a> or (703) 993-4925.</i>&nbsp;</p> http://mercatus.org/events/net-neutrality-and-maintaining-free-and-open-internet Thu, 28 Aug 2014 16:46:42 -0400 The Helicopter Parents At the FSOC Are Running With Scissors http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/helicopter-parents-fsoc-are-running-scissors-0 <h5> Expert Commentary </h5> <p class="p1">The Financial Stability Oversight Council is <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/metlife-is-closer-to-possible-systemically-important-designation-1408559511"><b>rumored</b></a> to be on the verge of designating MetLife as a systemically important financial institution. Through the FSOC's bureaucratic eyes, designating MetLife may appear to be a safer course than leaving it undesignated and facing questions later if the company runs into trouble. But designation brings its own problems-problems that are likely to be ignored in the FSOC's broken designation process.</p> <p class="p1">Thanks to Dodd-Frank, regulators are fully engaged in the business of picking out and propping up individual firms. Dodd-Frank gives the FSOC authority to require the Federal Reserve to supervise "nonbank financial companies that may pose risks to the financial stability of the United States in the event of their material financial distress or failure, or because of their activities." Once the Fed takes these firms on, for reputational reasons, it will not spare any expense or regulatory tricks to prop them up.</p> <p class="p1">The trade-off, of course, is that the Fed will employ the same helicopter parenting style for these firms that it uses for the big banks it oversees. This overbearing parenting style is bad enough for banks. Sure, it is nice to know that Papa Fed will always be there to keep you safe, but banks chafe under micromanagement of supervisors whose demands do not match those of customers. Nonbanks are sure to find Fed micromanagement even more difficult to bear. The Fed is likely to make only minimal adjustments to its bank regulatory methods. And, as the CEO of MetLife <a href="https://www.metlife.com/assets/cao/pr/Capital-Markets-Summit-Remarks-FINAL.pdf"><b>explained</b></a>, "no amount of ‘tailoring' will ever make bank capital standards fit a life insurer's balance sheet."</p> <p class="p1">Designation proponents argue that financial firms are always arguing for a lighter touch approach to regulation, so their concerns should be ignored. Firms do care about regulatory costs, but designation matters to all of us. First, there is no reason to believe that complying with Fed mandates will pay off, since it is not clear that regulators at the Fed have the experience to run financial companies effectively. For example, Governor Tarullo, who is currently overseeing a lot of the Fed's regulatory work, is a former law professor and government official. Second, designation stultifies the financial landscape by creating a protected class of financial firms and thus inhibiting the dynamism of the financial services sector. Finally, some portion of regulatory costs is passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices and fewer options. For example, consumers use insurance companies to help manage their risks, but fewer will do so if regulatory costs force prices up.</p> <p class="p1">The designation process is not designed to take such considerations into account. Although Dodd-Frank enumerated certain factors to be considered in the designation process, it also allowed consideration of "any other risk-related factors that the Council deems appropriate." The FSOC has not offered much insight into what these factors might be. Dodd-Frank's anti-evasion clause adds further ambiguity by implying that firms that take steps to make themselves less systemically important will be designated precisely because they take such steps. In effect, this provision discourages the FSOC from telling companies which aspects of their operations are risky, because then the firms might try to remake themselves to avoid designation.</p> <p class="p1">To date, the FSOC largely has embraced Dodd-Frank's insular, nontransparent approach to designation. After some initial missteps, it did take a reluctant stab at making a public case for the designation of large asset managers. Loud criticism caused the FSOC to <b><a href="http://www.treasury.gov/initiatives/fsoc/council-meetings/Documents/July%2031%202014.pdf">retreat</a>&nbsp;</b>from designating asset management firms and instead employ a "more focused analysis of industry-wide products and activities." However, even that promise leaves many questions about how the FSOC will conduct the analysis.</p> <p class="p1">In approaching insurance company designations, FSOC has not troubled itself with much outside consultation. In the case of Prudential, the FSOC did not even listen to its own insurance expert. In his dissent from the designation, Roy Woodall attacked many aspects of the FSOC's justification for the designation for being inconsistent with the reality of the insurance industry and its existing regulatory scheme. Likewise, the FSOC's nonvoting state insurance commissioner representative, John Huff, faulted the FSOC for "inappropriately appl[ying] bank-like concepts to insurance products and their regulation, rendering the rationale for designation flawed, insufficient, and unsupportable."</p> <p class="p1">Last week, a number of industry organizations filed a rulemaking petition with the FSOC. The <a href="file:///C:/Users/Trish/Saved%20Games/Downloads/Petition%20for%20Rulemaking_FINAL%20(1).pdf"><b>petition</b></a> requested an overhaul of the designation process. The recommended procedures would afford potential designated companies insight into, and timely opportunities to respond to, the FSOC's analysis. As the petition explained, a more interactive and transparent process would benefit the FSOC and the potential designee by allowing the company to respond directly to the FSOC's specific concerns, rather than inundating the regulator with documents not relevant to the analysis. The revised procedures also would allow for regulators of subsidiaries of potential designees to weigh in.</p> <p class="p1">The FSOC faces tremendous temptation to designate with abandon. Doing so will impede the financial system's ability to provide consumers and companies with the financial services they need. The FSOC's current designation approach does not lend itself to careful consideration of these types of costs. Designation is flawed in principle, but improving the manner in which it is carried out would make it more likely that the downstream costs of designation are taken into account.</p> http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/helicopter-parents-fsoc-are-running-scissors-0 Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:23:49 -0400 Young, Bummed, and in Debt http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/young-bummed-and-debt <h5> Expert Commentary </h5> <p class="p1"><i>This article appears in the October edition of&nbsp;</i><a href="http://reason.com/archives/2014/08/26/young-bummed-and-in-debt"><i>Reason Magazine</i></a></p><p class="p1">Until recently, a bad job market was nearly always bad news for political incumbents. Unemployed and anxious voters have a habit of throwing the bums out. But headed into the 2016 election season, one large demographic group is still likely to vote Democratic: millennials.</p> <p class="p1">Which is weird, because when it comes to the labor market, it sucks to be young. To be sure, it has always been hard to enter the workforce during a recession. But this recession has not only been particularly severe; it has been made longer and deeper than necessary by the Obama administration's policies. Washington's burdensome regulations, "stimulus" spending, and health insurance mandates have given us a slow recovery, high uncertainty, and a pathetic job market.</p> <p class="p1">According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some 1.2 million unemployed millennials with little or no job experience are trying to find jobs for the first time right now. Their unemployment rate is 12.2 percent, more than twice the rate for 25- to 54-year-olds. And if those first-time job seekers don't find employment soon, some of them may actually never work. "It is even more depressing," says my Mercatus Center colleague Keith Hall, a former BLS commissioner, "when you know that some 400,000 young long-term unemployed have never worked before." That's much higher than anything we have seen in the last 45 years.</p><p class="p1"><a href="http://reason.com/archives/2014/08/26/young-bummed-and-in-debt">Continue reading</a></p> http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/young-bummed-and-debt Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:32:43 -0400 It's High Time for Effective Regulatory Reform http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/its-high-time-effective-regulatory-reform <h5> Expert Commentary </h5> <p class="p1">Four decades ago this month, in one of his first acts as president following the resignation of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford signed into law the <a href="http://mercatus.org/publication/legacy-council-wage-and-price-stability"><b>Council on Wage and Price Stability Act of 1974</b></a>. The bill authorized the creation of an agency tasked with identifying key causes of inflation, a pernicious problem that was posing a serious threat to the American economy. Over the next seven years, the new agency, nicknamed CWPS, would play a key role not just in the fight against inflation, but in reforming the American regulatory system as well.</p> <p class="p1">CWPS officials intervened in the regulatory process by submitting comments to executive agencies on behalf of the White House. These comments focused on the supporting analysis that agencies produced for their regulations. State-of-the-art tools developed by economists heavily informed the CWPS's perspective. Eventually, in 1981, CWPS was dismantled, but the regulatory oversight role it played did not go away. Instead, review of agency regulatory analysis became a permanent fixture of the regulatory system, and responsibility was moved into the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. One of us (Hopkins) was on the agency's staff during the Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrations, and managed its closure as acting director.</p> <p class="p1">In honor of CWPS's 40th anniversary, the <a href="http://www.mercatus.org/"><b>Mercatus Center</b></a> at George Mason University released <a href="http://cwps.mercatus.org/"><b>a database</b></a> of CWPS filings, <a href="http://mercatus.org/publication/legacy-council-wage-and-price-stability"><b>as well as a study summarizing findings</b></a> from the many comments CWPS produced. These filings suggest that serious shortcomings persisted throughout the regulatory system in the 1970s. Agencies' analysts routinely estimated costs and benefits of regulations incorrectly, and sometimes didn't estimate costs and benefits at all.</p> <p class="p1">Consider one example: In 1979, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed to increase security for small-airplane operators as a way to deter hijackings. CWPS filed a comment concluding that the FAA had ignored important categories of cost, thereby underestimating the true cost of the regulation. For instance, the FAA had assumed that security staff could be hired for a half-hour at a time. Yet in many cases, a four-hour shift was the shortest period for which such workers could be employed.</p> <p class="p1">Such mistakes are not anomalies, and similar issues can be still found in agencies today. Consider a 2013 Transportation Security Administration proposal to modify the screening process for airline passengers entering airport secure areas. Like the FAA in 1979, the TSA failed to consider important costs -- this time by neglecting to properly account for rising electricity prices and the compensation growth of security personnel.</p> <p class="p1">Poor analysis isn't limited to underestimating costs. Agencies consistently fail to estimate the benefits of their rules, too. Even worse, agencies routinely fail to explain precisely why any new regulation is warranted, casting doubt on whatever benefits they claim to be achieving. A recent Office of Management and Budget report to Congress provided dollar estimates of both benefits and costs for just seven of the thousands of rules finalized last fiscal year. The 2013 TSA analysis also lacked benefit estimates, making it impossible to determine whether the proposal's benefits would outweigh any costs the agency identified.</p> <p class="p1">Forty years ago, the Code of Federal Regulations was just under 68,000 pages in length. Since then, over 100,000 pages have been added, and there are now well over <a href="http://mercatus.org/publication/why-we-need-regulatory-reform-two-charts"><b>1 million restrictions</b></a> with which Americans must comply. As these requirements grow year after year, the problems with our regulatory system mount.</p> <p class="p1">This is why regulatory reform is so critical. Real reform means not only strengthening requirements for agencies to conduct sound economic analysis before regulating, but also requiring analysts to go back through the decades of old rules that have been piling up on the books. Many of these rules' drafters were poorly informed, as evidenced by CWPS's work. Given the nation's disappointing economic performance in recent years, including slow wage growth, now is the time to reform a regulatory system that is constraining economic opportunity.</p> http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/its-high-time-effective-regulatory-reform Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:02:56 -0400 Back to School: More Education Money Hasn't Improved Results http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/back-school-more-education-money-hasnt-improved-results <h5> Expert Commentary </h5> <p class="p1">For millions of children across the country, August signals the traditional culmination of summer break and the start of the academic year. As the final days of August bleed into September, students trade swimsuits for school uniforms and flock toward the bus stop, swapping stories of summer vacation along the way. August is a month that has held its post as gatekeeper of summer and school year in America for more than a century. By the early 1900s, summer break was already well established in the cyclical routines of children and teachers. Each year, herds of American students headed back to class, just as their 21st&nbsp;century counterparts will this month.</p> <p class="p1">On some level, those two groups of students are not so different. There is something in that first-day-of-school excitement with its carefully packed lunch boxes and freshly sharpened pencils that persists across time. In other ways, the groups are completely dissimilar; the contents of their lunches have undoubtedly changed, and many of today’s students have exchanged their pencils for iPads. But perhaps more striking than the transformations in the students themselves are the structural differences that define the education system surrounding them.</p><p class="p1"><a href="http://www.usnews.com/opinion/economic-intelligence/2014/08/25/back-to-school-more-education-money-hasnt-improved-results">Continue reading</a></p> http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/back-school-more-education-money-hasnt-improved-results Mon, 25 Aug 2014 12:23:35 -0400 Bank of America's Opaque Penance http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/bank-americas-opaque-penance <h5> Expert Commentary </h5> <p class="p1">A gaggle of state and federal officials <a href="http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2014/August/14-ag-884.html">just announced</a> a $16.7 billion settlement with Bank of America. The federal government and participating states will take part of that hefty sum, and the rest will go to select underwater homeowners and nonprofits. This record-breaking settlement stems from the crisis-era mortgage activities by Bank of America and the two companies it probably now wishes it had not acquired, Countrywide and Merrill Lynch. The various settlement documents present a smattering of examples of bad mortgage practices and email snippets, speculate that these might have violated federal or state law, and lay out a complicated formula for allocating the settlement loot. But it is difficult to assess whether the settlement is a proper response to the underlying conduct.</p> <p class="p2">The settlement stems largely from Countrywide's and Merrill Lynch's practice of originating and packaging mortgages with high default risk into securities and selling those securities without revealing the poor quality of the underlying mortgages. For example, the <a href="http://www.justice.gov/iso/opa/resources/617201482111178213394.pdf">statement of facts</a> details how Countrywide made sure to securitize — rather than hold in its own portfolio — default-prone mortgages taken out by speculators (as opposed to owner-occupiers). And Merrill securitized loans that raised red flags in its due diligence processes. The statement of facts also cites an instance in which Bank of America, in a departure from its past practices, did not hire a third party to conduct due diligence of the mortgages underlying one of its securitizations.</p> <p class="p1">Whether these practices constituted legal violations is unclear, but the existence of contractual remedies to address some of the conduct at issue raises questions about whether state and federal legal cases based on the same conduct were necessary. Some investors, using contractual representations and warranties, successfully forced Bank of America to repurchase the loans. In fact, one portion of the Securities and Exchange Commission's settlement is based on Bank of America's failure to adequately disclose to investors the potential magnitude of its contractual repurchase obligations.</p> <p class="p1">The settlement agreement's greatest complexity comes in doling out the money. The Department of Justice's share is $8 billion, but the amount is allocated for the settlement of several different claims, only some of which are explicitly identified. Each participating state gets cash ranging (without explanation) from $23 million to $300 million. Some of the states pledge to use the money to address problems arising from the alleged misconduct. Even if the misconduct were precisely defined, the settlement document offers the states great leeway to distribute the money as they wish. Maryland, for example, will distribute some of the money to "certain investors," and New York will use some of the money on "anti-blight projects."</p> <p class="p1">The consumer relief portion of the settlement is $7 billion (plus an additional $490 million to cover some of the taxes that consumers who get relief will have to pay). A complicated appendix explains what that $7 billion actually means. For example, forgiving $1 of a borrower's principal generally counts as $1 of the settlement amount. But if Bank of America services the loan rather than owns it, forgiving $1 of the loan counts only as $0.50 toward the settlement. On the other hand, if the loan is insured by the Federal Housing Administration, it counts as $1.75 of the settlement. A $1 donation to a nonprofit that rehabilitates abandoned houses or a legal aid association counts as $2 toward the settlement. The settlement prescribes a minimum amount of relief that must derive from relief actions in each settling state. The link between the elaborate relief scheme and the allegedly offending conduct is far from clear.</p> <p class="p1">Settlements like this one are not very satisfying because they leave so many questions unanswered. Which specific state and federal laws were allegedly violated? (A few violations are clearly spelled out, but we are left guessing about other potential violations.) Is the amount of the settlement properly calibrated to these violations? Is the allocation among the settling state and federal government bodies appropriate? Will the beneficiaries of the settlement be people who were harmed by the alleged misconduct?</p> http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/bank-americas-opaque-penance Mon, 25 Aug 2014 11:12:20 -0400 Lesson From Old India: When an Economy Just Doesn’t Get Better http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/lesson-old-india-when-economy-just-doesn-t-get-better <h5> Expert Commentary </h5> <p class="p1">Commentators have often compared the recent Great Recession of the United States and Europe to <a href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/g/great_depression_1930s/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier">the Great Depression</a> of the 1930s. In both cases, asset prices tumbled, financial systems turned insolvent and demand plummeted. One difference is that in the recent case, we mounted a swifter rescue effort than we did in the 1930s; for instance, Ben S. Bernanke, as chairman of the Federal Reserve in the recent crisis, drew upon his academic research in supporting bailouts and reflating the economy.</p> <p class="p1">This comparison is intriguing, but we may be neglecting other, less obvious and yet more unsettling historical parallels for today’s global economy. For all the talk of the Great Depression, we might look at a different exemplar for modern times, 18th- and 19th-century economic history&nbsp; <a href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/india/index.html?inline=nyt-geo">India</a>. That country’s economic retrogression during that era may help us understand the quandary that some parts of the world face today.</p> <p class="p1">In 1750, India accounted for one-quarter of the world’s manufacturing output, but by 1900 that was down to 2 percent. The West became more productive as a result of the Industrial Revolution, and India lost much of its leading export sector, textiles. While the data is fragmentary, the best estimates show that India’s living standards declined through the middle of the 19th century and that its economy retrogressed, even as it borrowed some technological improvements from the West. India just didn’t do enough to move toward production on a larger scale or with better machines.</p> <p class="p1">This story of India’s loss to foreign competition is documented in “<a href="http://faculty.weatherhead.case.edu/clingingsmith/india.deind.14nov07.pdf">Deindustrialization in 18th and 19th Century India</a>,” a paper by <a href="http://faculty.weatherhead.case.edu/clingingsmith/">David Clingingsmith</a>, an economics professor at Case Western Reserve University, and <a href="http://scholar.harvard.edu/jwilliamson/home">Jeffrey G. Williamson</a>, an emeritus professor of economics at Harvard.</p> <p class="p1">Economists are accustomed to emphasizing the benefits of international trade, and these arguments are largely correct. But in India, internal regulations and underdevelopment, combined with British colonial depredations, prevented Indian resources from being redeployed productively. The lesson is that a sufficiently large international trade shock can lead to decades of economic decline in a major economy, especially if that economy isn’t geared to mounting a flexible response.</p> <p class="p1">Today, we’re not used to the idea of declining living standards, because growth throughout the 20th century was the global norm for economies that were not at war. International trade grew rapidly after World War II, but at least in the early postwar years most of that trade was among countries with roughly comparable technologies and real wages. And that trade spurred growth rather than damaging laggard economies.</p> <p class="p1">In the last 20 years, the economic surge of Asia, especially China, has brought a large trade readjustment to the world, one with few parallels with the possible exception of the rise of the Western economies several centuries ago. China’s per capita income, less than $300 in 1984, is now in the range of $10,000. The country is now the world’s second-largest economy, <a href="http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/by-one-measure-china-set-to-become-largest-economy/">and becoming the largest by one measure</a>.</p> <p class="p1">Who are some of the possible losers in this radical transformation in the global economy?</p> <p class="p1">Italy, which is producing less today than it was in the middle of 2000, is undergoing a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/08/upshot/italys-lost-decade.html">triple-dip recession</a>. Croatia is in its sixth consecutive year of recession — and joining the European Union didn’t help it much. In France, the economy has slowed to a crawl, but because taxes there are already high, there isn’t much room for further budget adjustment. French citizens expect a great deal from their government, and strikes are a common response to reduced wages or benefits.</p> <p class="p1">These economies have a few features in common: They try very hard to preserve old jobs at high real wages, they are not very flexible at adjusting, and they have not engaged in a major economic restructuring. While China is not the main problem of these economies, Chinese export growth and wage competition may have been a kind of final straw that made old ways unsustainable.</p> <p class="p1">If either France or Italy, much less both, is in for 15 or 20 years of economic stagnation, it’s hard to see how the eurozone will avoid another major financial crisis. Portugal and Greece, both of which have been de-industrialized over the last few decades, are also possible candidates for continuing, rather than temporary, retrogression.</p> <p class="p1">In Asia, the most likely future candidate for this problem is Taiwan, where real wages were largely stagnant from 2000 to 2011. In 2012, Taiwan’s trend was even more disturbing: Its economy grew 1.3 percent, but real wages fell 1.6 percent, both adjusted for inflation. Taiwanese capital has flowed into China, creating a new class of Taiwanese millionaires but hollowing out the country’s manufacturing base as capital was reallocated to the mainland.</p> <p class="p1">What about the United States? The chance of an overall economic reversal here is very slim. The American economy is relatively flexible, and various candidates for future growth are strong: technology, health care research, energy and higher education. Despite its slow recovery, the United States probably still has the best fundamentals of any major economy.</p> <p class="p1">That said, this same model of deindustrialization may apply to some parts of old industrial America and to some segments of the American middle class. The median individual income of Americans <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/23/upshot/the-american-middle-class-is-no-longer-the-worlds-richest.html?_r=0">has not risen since 2000</a>, and more recently <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/21/upshot/why-the-middle-class-isnt-buying-talk-about-economic-good-times.html?smid=tw-share&amp;abt=0002&amp;abg=0">median household income </a>is still lower than it was when the economic recovery began in June 2009. Downward wage pressure <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w18938">has been strongest</a> where there is competition from Chinese exports.</p> <p class="p1">It was once an unthinkable question, but we’ve arrived at the scary point where it needs to be asked: What if American median income over the next 15 years keeps stagnating — or maybe even falls?</p> <p class="p1">Our <a href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/s/social_security_us/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier">Social Security</a> system, whose receipts are based on wage taxation, could then prove to be a bigger fiscal problem than <a href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/health/diseasesconditionsandhealthtopics/medicare/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier">Medicare</a>. Asset prices would most likely prove overvalued, possibly setting off another financial crash or at least damaging many Americans’ retirements. And the rate of household formation would most likely remain slow, depressing the housing market for the foreseeable future.</p> <p class="p1">India’s economy started to reindustrialize in the late 19th century, but growth remained subpar until the 1990s — a truly long recovery lag. This may sound strange to say, but when it comes to some parts of the Western world, the Great Depression may offer the cheerier analogy.</p> http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/lesson-old-india-when-economy-just-doesn-t-get-better Mon, 25 Aug 2014 10:54:04 -0400 Is the Export Import Bank a Win-Win? http://mercatus.org/video/export-import-bank-win-win <h5> Video </h5> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/z4KL0WUaaRI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p>In this video, Mercatus Center economist Matthew Mitchell explains what the Ex-Im bank is, what it does, and how it creates both economic winners and losers.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-embed-code"> <div class="field-label">Embed Code:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> &lt;iframe width=&quot;560&quot; height=&quot;315&quot; src=&quot;//www.youtube.com/embed/z4KL0WUaaRI&quot; frameborder=&quot;0&quot; allowfullscreen&gt;&lt;/iframe&gt; </div> </div> </div> http://mercatus.org/video/export-import-bank-win-win Wed, 27 Aug 2014 12:52:14 -0400 Classifying Internet As Utility A Perilous Concept http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/classifying-internet-utility-perilous-concept <h5> Expert Commentary </h5> <p class="p1">On the heels of more than 1.1 million Americans recently submitting comments to the Federal Communications Commission on Internet openness, the FCC has announced that it will hold a series of "open Internet roundtable discussions" with the aim of clarifying to what extent communications law should be reinterpreted. Central to that proceeding is "net neutrality," a catchall term for severe regulation of broadband providers and Internet companies. This notion that the FCC should reinterpret the law and, for the first time ever, "reclassify" broadband as a public utility is perilous.</p> <p class="p1">Providing the Internet is nothing like supplying water or electricity, of course. Broadband carries speech, information, and entertainment, and there should be an impermeable wall of separation between regulators and the Internet.</p> <p class="p1">Leaders of the net neutrality movement, however, are struggling mightily to tear down that wall. Underlying talk of the need for more broadband competition is a motivation to rein in technology companies. Leading advocates know that classifying broadband like a utility will begin the process of regulating an online world they consider too unruly, too uninformed, and too "undemocratic."</p> <p class="p1">There's a children's folk tale of a gingerbread man who once came to life and escaped the home of the baker. A fox offered to ferry the gingerbread man across the nearby river to safety, and at the gingerbread man's insistence, the fox promised not to eat him. While swimming, the fox feigned indifference to gingerbread man at first, but upon approaching the opposite shore, the fox began bargaining with the gingerbread man. Having no options, the gingerbread man permits the fox to nibble on his foot, then his leg. Upon reaching the shore, the progressive bargaining results in only the satisfied fox emerging from the water.</p> <p class="p1">This fable is not unlike the current net neutrality imbroglio. Reclassifying broadband as a utility would subject Internet companies to regulations once intended for the 1930s telephone monopoly. Like the fox in the tale, advocates promise they will not do - after reclassification - what everyone knows they are tempted to do. Reclassification comes with regulations so onerous and so inappropriate for the Internet that moderate net neutrality supporters agree the FCC will need to repeal some of the mandates that automatically apply when reclassifying a service as a utility.</p> <p class="p1">Like the gingerbread man, unfortunately, moderate net neutrality supporters and the FCC may fall for the ruse. When those million commenters lose interest in net neutrality and return to their normal lives, the aggressive media activists and scholars will remain, pressuring the FCC to do more. It's already apparent that the savviest advocates have larger designs, beyond reclassification, for regulating the Internet according to "the public interest."</p> <p class="p1">Legal and social science scholars have schemed for years in academic journals about making online services - including Google Search, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and YouTube - public utilities. The boldest among them propose outright nationalization and public ownership of popular sites.</p> <p class="p1">Some clamor to place regulatory burdens on social networks and search engines to protect the public against "digital gerrymandering" and the potential for tech companies to influence political behavior. They speak of imposing duties like "audience protection" on tech companies, likening them to broadcast television stations that must comply with reams of regulations and prove they are acting in "the public interest" to stay in operation.</p> <p class="p1">Professor Tim Wu, coiner of "net neutrality," likewise recently told members of Congress at a net neutrality hearing that FCC oversight of the Internet should entail "not merely competition policy, but also media policy, social policy" and "oversight of the political process."</p> <p class="p1">This sort of talk is a dog whistle for like-minded activists and leaders of the fight to regulate Internet companies who favor government oversight of the media. With the shrinking of broadcast TV and radio audiences, advocates are turning their attention to the growing locus of popular culture - the Internet. In the traditional media and communications landscape, these advocates favor mandated and subsidized "public-minded" programming, forced sales of assets to competitors, government price controls of services, and the odious Fairness Doctrine - a repealed FCC requirement to explore both sides of controversial subjects and penalties if the Commission thought news coverage was "unbalanced."</p> <p class="p1">Convincing the FCC to reinterpret the law will not get them all of the way, but it becomes far easier to chill speech and justify damaging interventions on a public utility. It is troubling that the FCC left the door open to this overreach. Utility regulation was never envisioned by Congress and should be taken off the table as inappropriate for the dynamic, open Internet.</p> http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/classifying-internet-utility-perilous-concept Fri, 22 Aug 2014 12:25:21 -0400 Let Customers — Not Regulators — Decide the Right Size for Banks http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/let-customers-not-regulators-decide-right-size-banks <h5> Expert Commentary </h5> <p class="p1">To see why it's absurd for Washington to be debating how big the country's banks should be, imagine the following scenario:</p> <p class="p1">You leave your hometown after high school to study and later work abroad for several years. After some time, you decide it's time to come home, at which point you reacquaint yourself with your high school prom date, who never left. You decide to get married. After the honeymoon, it's time to pay the bills, which means you have to choose how to bank. Your spouse has banked for years at a local small bank because of the personalized service it offers. It has only a few branches. But having moved around, you think fondly about all those times you found a bank branch during your travels — and you appreciate that you didn't have to close your account just because you moved to a different part of the state, let alone an entirely different state, or even abroad.</p> <p class="p1">What's the right way to go? That's for you and your spouse to decide. The decision should not involve politicians and regulators.</p> <p class="p1">Small banks may make more sense for people who seldom travel or relocate, or who use a limited range of services. Big banks may be preferable for people who move around more often or use a wider range of services — even with the advent of automated teller machines and telephone, online and now mobile banking. The best way forward is to let people vote with their feet, allowing banks to compete to offer the best service.</p> <p class="p1">That this debate arises in the political realm reflects what has always been wrong with the U.S. approach to banking politics and regulations, ever since Thomas Jefferson — as an anti-Federalist defending agrarian interests — challenged Alexander Hamilton's Federalist vision of an urbanized America with bank-financed industrialization. Author Ron Chernow makes that point in his fabulous Hamilton <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Alexander-Hamilton-Ron-Chernow/dp/0143034758/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1408479087&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=Chernow+Alexander+Hamilton%27">biography</a>. Two centuries on, the story hasn't changed much: "Jeffersonians" want lots of small banks, while "Hamiltonians" see nothing wrong with allowing some banks to get big.</p> <p class="p1">Professors Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber at Columbia and Stanford respectively, in their recent book "<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Fragile-Design-Political-Princeton-Economic/dp/0691155240/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1408479133&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=Fragile+by+Design">Fragile by Design</a>," detail how populists and small banks in the United States historically colluded in the political sphere to prevent banks from getting too big. And now we have the Dodd-Frank Act, which through an evolving body of regulations seems intended to encourage shrinkage, though it may also — as an unintended consequence — work to the detriment of small banks (as my colleagues <a href="http://mercatus.org/hester-peirce">Hester Peirce</a>, <a href="http://mercatus.org/ian-robinson">Ian Robinson</a> and <a href="http://mercatus.org/thomas-stratmann">Thomas Stratmann</a> have shown with&nbsp;<a href="http://mercatus.org/publication/how-are-small-banks-faring-under-dodd-frank">research on how small banks are faring under Dodd-Frank</a>).</p> <p class="p1">To be fair to the politicians and regulators involved in designing and implementing Dodd Frank, the issue of bank size ties in closely to the complexity of a bank's activities, because some complex activities — <a href="http://www.usnews.com/opinion/economic-intelligence/2014/06/23/why-are-cdos-and-structured-notes-making-a-comeback">like structuring collateralized debt obligations</a> — lay at the heart of the recent crisis. Since the repeal of Glass Steagall through the Gramm Leach Bliley Act in 1999, some big commercial banks have greatly increased their use of complex off (bank) balance sheet activities to engage in transactions that were previously the sole province of investment banks.</p> <p class="p1">Interest in such activities reflects the fact that as accounting rules, banking regulations and tax laws become more complicated, so have the ways of getting around the rules. But complexity and bank size are two separate issues. This is why some regional banks, like PNC, can credibly challenge the "systemically important financial institution" or "SIFI" designation, on the grounds that they were not involved in the recent crisis.</p> <p class="p1">To address complexity, how about simplifying banking regulations by simply raising capital requirements even more, as many advocate in various forms? Likewise, to address size, how about letting customers decide how big their banks should be?</p> <p class="p1">Many U.S. politicians, regulators, populists and small bankers want to convince us we should fear big banks. After four years, it seems the bigger concern lies with the regulatory burden made worse by Dodd Frank. That's because — to the extent that it greatly increases the cost of banking — those costs will be passed on to the customers in the form of fewer services, fewer branches, higher fees, and overall, even more customer dissatisfaction.</p> http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/let-customers-not-regulators-decide-right-size-banks Thu, 21 Aug 2014 14:23:18 -0400 The United States’ Debt Crisis: Far from Solved http://mercatus.org/publication/united-states-debt-crisis-far-solved <h5> Publication </h5> <p class="p1">The recent decline in federal deficits should not create a false sense that the national debt is no longer a clear and present threat. While this improvement may be encouraging, it represents only a temporary respite from the government’s growing fiscal imbalances. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates show deficits growing again two years from now, returning to trillion-dollar levels within a decade, and worsening from there.</p> <p class="p1">In short, the United States’ fiscal outlook has not changed. Americans will soon have to deal with the consequences of being a highly indebted nation. While economists can’t predict exactly when or how a debt crisis will manifest itself in the United States, such a crisis is inevitable if current spending trends continue. The longer policymakers delay the needed course correction, the more likely they will be forced to rush through ill-conceived policies in the face of a crisis.</p> <p class="p1">DEFICITS AREN’T GOING AWAY</p> <p class="p1">The improvement in the fiscal situation over the past few years was driven largely by the extraordinarily high deficit levels between 2009 and 2013. The government’s deficits surged from about $459 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2008 to $1.4 trillion (9.8 percent of gross domestic product, or GDP) the following year, then remained above the trillion-dollar mark until 2013. They are now projected to fall to $492 billion in FY 2014 (2.8 percent of GDP) and then to decrease further to $469 billion in FY 2015 (2.6 per- cent of GDP).<sup>1</sup></p> <p class="p1">In the face of these large deficits, debt held by the public as a share of GDP has continued to grow and is projected to remain near three-fourths of total economic output in the near-term—levels higher than at any time since 1948—and to exceed the size of the entire economy by 2039.<sup>2</sup> Under different assumptions—with looser spending restraints and economic feedback of high government debt factored in—the CBO estimates that the debt-to-GDP ratio could reach 183 percent of GDP by 2039.<sup>3</sup></p> <p class="p1">Deficits and debt are merely symptoms; the disease is overspending, and only by curing it can Washington correct the phenomenal fiscal imbalance the government faces now and in the future. No level of taxes can close this gap over the long term,<sup>4</sup> and higher taxes would exacerbate the deficit and debt problem by acting as a drag on growth.<sup>5</sup></p> <p class="p1">The deficits caused by overspending are already impeding growth. For the past several years, following substantial fiscal and monetary stimulus measures, forecasters have predicted a return to normal rates of GDP growth, but these conditions have not materialized.<sup>6</sup> Further, recent job gains mask nagging underlying problems in the employment market, including a historically low labor force participation rate<sup>7</sup> and a chronically high number of long-term unemployed.<sup>8</sup></p> <p class="p4"><a href="http://mercatus.org/sites/default/files/de-Rugy-Fichtner-Debt-MOP.pdf">Continue reading</a></p> http://mercatus.org/publication/united-states-debt-crisis-far-solved Thu, 28 Aug 2014 10:26:56 -0400 Shuttering Ex-Im Bank Good for Arizona http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/shuttering-ex-im-bank-good-arizona <h5> Expert Commentary </h5> <p class="p1">Letting the New Deal-era corporate welfare program known as the Export-Import Bank expire is just good economics for Arizonans. There are plenty of bad arguments to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank's charter, but none are more misleading than the claim that this government bank serves small businesses and that, without it, exports in Arizona would collapse.</p> <p class="p1">More than 80 percent of the bank's portfolio primarily benefits huge corporations. This leaves less than 20 percent of Ex-Im Bank's portfolio for small firms.</p> <p class="p1">But even this is misleading, since the Ex-Im Bank's definition of a "small business" isn't exactly small. However, Ex-Im Bank defines small businesses as companies with up to 1,500 employees or annual revenue up to $21 million.</p> <p class="p1">For example, the Ex-Im Bank considers Arizona company Competitive Engineering Inc. Global to be a small business. While public records suggest the firm employs a staff of between 100 and 249, it reportedly earns annual revenue of over $17 million and has offices worldwide. CEI Global should be proud of its success, but it is not "small" to most Americans and could be just as prosperous without the Ex-Im Bank.</p> <p class="p1">Even with this definition, the Ex-Im Bank benefits a minuscule percentage of small businesses.</p> <p class="p1">Data from the Census Bureau's Statistics of U.S. Small Businesses dataset and from the Ex-Im Bank's records show only 0.3 percent of all small-business jobs received assistance from the bank in 2007, the most recent year for which the full Census dataset is available.</p> <p class="p1">Let that sink in: Over 99.6 percent of American small-business jobs exist without any Ex-Im Bank assistance.</p> <p class="p1">What about the idea that without the Ex-Im Bank, Arizona exports would be hurt? It is fear-mongering. First, there isn't much to lose. From 2007 to 2014, the bank's data show that Arizona received 0.3 percent of all Ex-Im Bank financing.</p> <p class="p1">Washington, home to Boeing, received 47 percent of total Ex-Im Bank disbursements over that same time.</p> <p class="p1">Also, less than 0.5 percent of total Arizona exports were backed by the Ex-Im Bank over the past seven years. Needless to say, the sky isn't going to fall on Arizona exporters without the Ex-Im Bank.</p> <p class="p1">Shutting it down would restore some fairness in the state. When Ex-Im Bank subsidizes an Arizona company, it comes at the expense of the vast swath of other businesses and their employees. When a company or its customers get a cheap loan from the bank, they enjoy lower costs and a clear edge over the competition. Unsubsidized firms may attract less capital as a result, incur higher costs, cut back on hiring and grow less than they would have on a level playing field.</p> <p class="p1">Subsidized businesses should not matter more than unsubsidized firms in the Grand Canyon State merely because they happen to have friends in Washington. Arizonans should ask their lawmakers why they support a program that exposes them to so much risk mostly for the benefit of Washington state.</p> http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/shuttering-ex-im-bank-good-arizona Thu, 21 Aug 2014 10:42:10 -0400 Subsidies for Big Business and Megabanks http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/subsidies-big-business-and-megabanks <h5> Expert Commentary </h5> <p class="p1">In the little time she’s been in Congress, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has made a name for herself as a populist who talks tough about Wall Street and other large corporations. But is she going to do more than just talk about it?</p> <p class="p1">Recently, Warren confirmed that she is renewing her support for the Export-Import Bank — an agency that lends money to foreign companies to buy U.S. goods and services. This may sound good on paper; however, Warren’s endorsement of the Ex-Im Bank is inconsistent with her otherwise populist stand.</p> <p class="p1">The biggest Ex-Im Bank beneficiaries are giant corporations like Boeing, General Electric, Caterpillar and their very wealthy foreign buyers. These companies don’t need the bank, but they love it. It increases their profits and transfers onto taxpayers the risk that the companies should be shouldering since they pocket the benefits.</p> <p class="p1">The foreign companies love it, too. While most of them do have access to capital without the bank, Ex-Im Bank loans are much cheaper, giving them a U.S. government-sponsored edge over their competitors — including American competitors.</p> <p class="p1">Take the wealthy state-owned Emirates Air. In June 2012, it received some Ex-Im Bank financing to buy two Boeing planes. The company could have bought them without Ex-Im Bank, since around that time it also bought four French Airbus planes without any export subsidies whatsoever. This dispels the myth that Ex-Im Bank fills a gap in financing from the private sector.</p> <p class="p1">Ex-Im Bank loans were a great financial deal since the interest rates were almost half that of the market at the time, and it let the company put less money down than with a regular loan.</p> <p class="p1">According to experts, Ex-Im Bank loans saved Emirates about $20 million in finance charges per plane. But that savings came at the cost of many U.S. jobs. Thanks to the money saved through Ex-Im Bank financing, Emirates can lower its price, open new routes (like it did between New York’s JFK Airport and Milan) and stick it to its U.S. competition. Estimates show that roughly 7,500 jobs in the U.S. airlines industries were lost because <i>our</i> government subsidizes foreign airlines.</p> <p class="p1">Meanwhile, the mega-banks that Warren always complains about are some of the biggest beneficiaries of the Ex-Im Bank. Companies like J.P Morgan and Citibank get to extend billions of dollars in loans — and collect large fees and interest rates — without shouldering most of the risk involved. U.S. taxpayers on the other hand will be left footing the bill if any loans default. This is exactly the kind of favoritism for Wall Street she says she opposes.</p> <p class="p1">Moreover, workers in unsubsidized companies may find their hours reduced, raises dampened, or jobs threatened because of the competition they face from Ex-Im Bank-subsidized companies. Business owners in Massachusetts have to compete with other firms that receive some working capital from the Ex-Im Bank. Massachusetts workers can lose their jobs or see their wages stagnate as a result.</p> <p class="p1">Warren often explains her support for the Ex-Im Bank based on the misleading claim that it focuses on helping American small businesses. However, only 19 percent of the bank’s activities benefit small businesses. What’s more, in 2007 (the most recent year data is available), only 0.3 percent of all small business export jobs were supported by the bank.</p> <p class="p1">Also, assuming that each of Ex-Im Bank’s small-business transactions went to a unique small business (even though they didn’t), only 0.04 percent of all small businesses were supported by the bank that year. That’s right; most small exporters export without an Ex-Im Bank handout, but they have to compete with Ex-Im Bank’s beneficiaries nonetheless.</p> <p class="p1">The bottom line is that Ex-Im isn’t for the little guys. The Export-Import Bank is a subsidy for big businesses and wealthy private lenders.</p> http://mercatus.org/expert_commentary/subsidies-big-business-and-megabanks Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:54:39 -0400 Privacy and the Internet: An Overview of Key Issues http://mercatus.org/publication/privacy-and-internet-overview-key-issues <h5> Publication </h5> <p><iframe src="//www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/8082884" width="427" height="356" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" style="border: 1px solid #CCC; border-width: 1px; margin-bottom: 5px; max-width: 100%;"> </iframe></p> <div style="margin-bottom: 5px;"><strong> <a href="https://www.slideshare.net/Mercatus/thierer-internet-privacy-regulation" title="Thierer Internet Privacy Regulation" target="_blank">Thierer Internet Privacy Regulation</a> </strong> from <strong><a href="http://www.slideshare.net/Mercatus" target="_blank">Mercatus</a></strong></div> http://mercatus.org/publication/privacy-and-internet-overview-key-issues Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:18:07 -0400 “Permissionless Innovation” & the Grand Tech Policy Clash of Visions to Come http://mercatus.org/publication/permissionless-innovation-grand-tech-policy-clash-visions-come <h5> Publication </h5> <p><iframe style="border: 1px solid #CCC; border-width: 1px; margin-bottom: 5px; max-width: 100%;" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" frameborder="0" height="356" width="427" src="//www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/35660894"> </iframe></p> <div style="margin-bottom: 5px;"><strong> <a target="_blank" title="“Permissionless Innovation” &amp; the Grand Tech Policy Clash of Visions to Come" href="https://www.slideshare.net/Mercatus/permissionless-innovation-the-future-of-tech-policy-mercatus-center-june-2014branded">“Permissionless Innovation” &amp; the Grand Tech Policy Clash of Visions to Come</a> </strong> from <strong><a target="_blank" href="http://www.slideshare.net/Mercatus">Mercatus</a></strong></div> http://mercatus.org/publication/permissionless-innovation-grand-tech-policy-clash-visions-come Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:10:01 -0400 Sales Taxes and Exemptions http://mercatus.org/publication/sales-taxes-and-exemptions <h5> Publication </h5> <p class="p1">State and local governments often turn to increases in sales taxes to generate added revenue. Estimates of fresh revenue from the higher tax tend to be overly optimistic, partly because the number of&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 12px;">sales tax exemptions tends to rise with the rising tax rate. Given the fact that politicians seek to raise a certain amount of revenue and wish to maximize their chance of re-election, this relationship suggests that politicians face a trade-off when seeking votes from groups that favor sales tax decreases and groups that lobby for certain tax exemptions.</span></p> <p class="p3">Assuming that higher tax rates increase the incentive to lobby for tax exemptions, agencies that estimate the effects of sales tax increases should take into account the expected increase in tax exemptions as well. Ultimately, the link between sales taxes and sales tax exemptions serves to undermine the certainty of generating additional revenue by increasing sales taxes.<sup>1</sup></p> <p class="p5">PUBLIC CHOICE MODEL</p> <p class="p7">Public choice economics explains how&nbsp; politicians seek to maximize votes given that competing groups of voters vie for political support.<sup>2</sup> For instance, one group of constituents may want taxes raised on a certain group or a certain type of transaction, while another group may favor reductions in taxes or increases in tax exemptions. In order to maximize votes, politicians can satisfy both groups by simultaneously increasing taxes and expanding the number of exemptions, or loopholes. While the net result on tax revenue generated may be negligible, a politician can secure additional votes from both groups.</p> <p class="p8">University of Chicago economist Sam Peltzman’s analysis of the regulation of firms offers insights that are relevant to the study of sales taxes and exemptions.<sup>3</sup></p> <p class="p10">Given that firms demand price regulations that increase their profits and consumers desire regulations that lower prices, Peltzman analyzed how politicians approach regulating firms in order to maximize votes. This model presents a situation in which both groups can’t be simultaneously satisfied, just as is the case with sales taxes and exemptions. In a recent paper,<sup>4</sup> we use Peltzman’s model, showing that politicians seek to maximize support from competing groups, to analyze the relationship between sales taxes and sales tax exemptions.</p> <p class="p11">We analyze the equilibrium relationship between the sales tax rate and the number of sales tax exemptions in each state that levies sales taxes. Our theory suggests that as tax rates rise, so do lobbying activities, and therefore the number of exemptions. In this model, in order for a politician to maintain a certain amount of revenue, that politician is not able to satisfy all groups. In other words, when a politician decreases taxes— thereby increasing support from one group—that politician is forced by the revenue constraint to decrease tax exemptions as well—hence losing support from the other group. In this way, the wealth of one interest group increases at the expense of the other group. Given this state of affairs, the politician is faced with choosing a tax rate and a number of exemptions that maximizes the politician’s chance of re-election.</p><p class="p11"><a href="http://mercatus.org/sites/default/files/Stratmann-Militaru-Reese-State-Sales-Tax-MOP.pdf">Continue reading</a></p> http://mercatus.org/publication/sales-taxes-and-exemptions Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:20:21 -0400 Reading, Writing, and Regulations: A Survey of the Expanding Federal Role in Elementary and Secondary Education Policy http://mercatus.org/publication/reading-writing-and-regulations-survey-expanding-federal-role-elementary-and-secondary <h5> Publication </h5> <p class="p1">Until 1965, the federal government played a fairly limited role in the elementary and secondary education system in the United States. The US Constitution is noticeably silent on matters related to education, and therefore the provision of education is left as a power reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment. As part of his Great Society programs, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 1965 and set in motion an expansion of federal control that would continue into the next century.</p><p><iframe width="585" height="1572" src="//www.thinglink.com/card/561919517207298048" type="text/html" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p class="p2">The original legislation was relatively specific in its intent; it was meant to provide compensatory educational resources for students from low-income backgrounds. However, after numerous amendments and reauthorizations, the law grew to more than 20 times its original size, and the breadth of federal control it provided grew with it. Hundreds of specific federal programs were added over the years as federal funding of elementary and secondary education increased. Attached to these programs and funds came strings of federal control.</p> <p class="p2">The most recent version of the ESEA is No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which authorizes such a high level of federal oversight that the original legislation is hardly recognizable. Even now, federal influence continues to expand, fueled by such recent programs as Race to the Top and Common Core.</p> <p class="p2">The purpose of this study is to provide a survey of how federal education legislation and associated regulations have changed over time and how those changes have affected schools and teachers at the local level. The study begins with the earliest federal legislation and moves to the most recent policies, with a special focus on the ESEA and its growth since 1965. The study also examines the development of the Department of Education, from its roots as a four-person department in the 1860s to its eventual climb to cabinet-level status in 1979. The study is supplemented with several empirical measures of federal growth, including federal education outlays, legislation length, and estimates of the burden imposed by federal regulations, which reflect a sizable expansion in federal involvement in elementary and secondary education over time.</p><p class="p2"><a href="http://mercatus.org/sites/default/files/Collins-Reading-Writing-Regulations.pdf">Continue reading</a></p> http://mercatus.org/publication/reading-writing-and-regulations-survey-expanding-federal-role-elementary-and-secondary Fri, 29 Aug 2014 23:15:11 -0400 Patrick McLaughlin Discusses Government Regulation on Wall Street Journal Opinion http://mercatus.org/video/patrick-mclaughlin-discusses-government-regulation-wall-street-journal-opinion <h5> Video </h5> <iframe width="480" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/6HUmz9Rostw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p>Patrick McLaughlin Discusses Government Regulation on Wall Street Journal Opinion&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-embed-code"> <div class="field-label">Embed Code:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> &lt;iframe width=&quot;480&quot; height=&quot;360&quot; src=&quot;//www.youtube.com/embed/6HUmz9Rostw&quot; frameborder=&quot;0&quot; allowfullscreen&gt;&lt;/iframe&gt; </div> </div> </div> http://mercatus.org/video/patrick-mclaughlin-discusses-government-regulation-wall-street-journal-opinion Mon, 25 Aug 2014 12:01:15 -0400