The Project for the Study of American Capitalism

The Project for the Study of American Capitalism

Created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and the government’s subsequent responses, the Project for the Study of American Capitalism at The Mercatus Center is a research program responding to the increased concern about the role of political favoritism in American business.  The project explores the implications of this emerging character of the economy, examining the effects it has on the standard of living in the United States and public perceptions of the legitimacy of government and business. Does it make any difference to average Americans whether ours is a more or less free market? And what can policymakers do to ensure competition and to commit in a credible way to equality of opportunity?

Drawing on hundreds of academics from around the world, the Project for the Study of American Capitalism helps scholars and policymakers investigate the nature of these problems and identify real and sustainable solutions.

Research

Christopher Koopman, Thomas Stratmann, Scott Eastman | May 16, 2016
Certificate-of-need (CON) programs are state laws that require government permission for healthcare providers to open or expand a practice or to invest in certain devices or technology. These programs have been justified on the basis of achieving several public policy goals, including controlling costs and increasing access to healthcare services in rural areas. Little work has been done, however, to measure what effects CON programs have on access and distribution of healthcare services. Two recent studies that examined the relationship between a state’s CON program and access to care found that these laws failed to achieve their stated goals.
Jason Sorens | Feb 09, 2016
When local governments in the United States and other developed nations become more dependent on the central government’s grants, they tend to become less efficient, spending more and taxing more for the same level of services. Voters can also find it difficult to understand which level of government is responsible for which policy.
Edward J. Timmons | Jan 26, 2016
Increasing licensing requirements for healthcare professionals is often promoted as a measure to improve the quality of care, but its main effect may be to raise costs for patients.
Patrick McLaughlin, Laura Stanley | Jan 20, 2016
A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University examines the relationship between income inequality and the number of regulatory steps necessary to start a business. Looking at 175 countries and multiple variables, the study finds that there is a positive relationship between entry regulations and income inequality.
Thomas Stratmann, Matthew C. Baker | Jan 12, 2016
Certificate of need (CON) laws in 21 states restrict acquisition of imaging equipment, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography (PET) scans. We compare the effect of CON regulations for imaging services provided by hospitals and other providers to determine whether CON laws affect use of imaging services across provider types. We find that services by nonhospital providers, but not by hospital providers, are negatively associated with CON laws. We also find that CON laws reduce the overall number of medical providers, suggesting less availability of imaging services in CON states. We provide evidence consistent with this result showing that residents of CON states are more likely to travel out of state to obtain imaging services than are residents of non-CON states. These results imply that the effect of CON is heterogeneous on hospitals and nonhospitals, affecting the market structure for imaging services.
Adam J. Hoffer, Russell Sobel | Oct 27, 2015
A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University is the first to look at broad-based government bidding preferences. It finds that in-state preference policies are associated with a $148 increase per capita in state construction costs and a $158 increase per capita in capital expenditures, which translates to an increase of more than $600 million for the median state in each type of cost.

Testimony & Comments

Christopher Koopman | Mar 16, 2016
Whatever the justification behind licensing in the past, its rationale is disappearing as technology provides new solutions to old problems. This meeting is an opportunity for policymakers to reevaluate traditional regulations aimed at addressing information deficiencies and allow technological innovation to do what regulation could not: improve consumer welfare while encouraging innovation and economic growth.
Jerry Ellig | Jan 12, 2016
Virtually all states require auto manufacturers to sell new vehicles through local franchised dealers, protect dealers from competition in Relevant Market Areas, and terminate franchises with existing dealers only after proving they have a “good cause” to do so. In 1979, fewer than half of all states regulated all three of these aspects of the manufacturer-dealer relationship. By 2014, all but one state regulated every single one of these aspects. These state laws harm consumers by insulating dealers from competition and forestalling experimentation with new business models for auto retailing in the twenty-first century.
Christopher Koopman, Thomas Stratmann, Mohamad Elbarasse | Jun 12, 2015
There is little evidence to support the claim that certificates of need are an effective cost-control measure; and Stratmann and Russ have found that these programs have no effect on the level of charity care provided to the poor. While controlling health care costs and increasing care for the poor may be laudable public policy goals, the evidence strongly suggests that CON regulations are not an effective mechanism for achieving them. Instead, these programs simply decrease the supply and availability of health care services by limiting entry and competition.
Veronique de Rugy | Jun 02, 2015
Contrary to what you will hear from its supporters and beneficiaries, the Ex-Im Bank plays a marginal role in export financing—backing a mere 2 percent of US exports each year. The vast majority of exporters secure financing from a wide variety of private banks and other financial institutions without government interference or assistance. With US exports hitting record high levels, it is obvious that such financing is abundant and government assistance is superfluous.
Christopher Koopman, Matthew Mitchell, Adam Thierer | May 26, 2015
The commission should shift enforcement efforts away from stopping private restraint of trade and toward stopping public restraint of trade. In light of George Stigler’s observation that “the state has one basic resource which in pure principle is not shared with even the mightiest of its citizens: the power to coerce,” the commission would be wise to adopt Commissioner Wright’s approach and shift resources toward fighting public restraint of trade.
Veronique de Rugy | Mar 24, 2015
Policymakers who are interested in supporting the entrepreneurs and companies that will deliver the next generation of energy supplies and products should focus their attention on correcting the federal government’s hostile tax climate and dispense with the futile hopes of outsmarting the marketplace.

Speeches & Presentations

Charts

Thomas Stratmann, Christopher Koopman | Mar 15, 2016
CON programs do not promote access to rural care in the form of more rural hospitals. Instead, CON laws are associated with a decrease, not an increase, in the number of hospitals and ASCs, rural or otherwise. CON laws should not be the tool of choice for policymakers seeking to protect access to health care in rural areas.

Experts

Videos

Veronique de Rugy | September 17, 2015
In response to the Export Import Bank losing its charter, General Electric has announced that it will move five hundred jobs overseas. Mercatus Senior Research Fellow Veronique de Rugy joins Wall Street Journal Opinion to explain GE's strategy, and why, despite political bullying, the Export Import Bank should remain unauthorized.

Podcasts

Thomas Stratmann | February 05, 2016
Thomas Stratmann discusses his newest research on certificate of need laws on WDEV Radio (Vermont).

Books

Randall G. Holcombe, Andrea Castillo | Apr 23, 2013
By examining how real governments have operated, this book demonstrates why—despite their diverse designs—in practice all political and economic systems are variants of either liberalism or cronyism.
' '