Economics

Economics

Research

Richard Wagner | May 06, 2014
Federalism is commonly thought to be a pro-liberty form of government. The American system was clearly founded on classically liberal principles. Yet it is reasonable to wonder how a system in which two or more governments can each tax and regulate a citizen can be favorable to liberty relative to a system where only one government can do that. The answer is that federalism can be favorable to liberty, but it need not be. Whether federalism is favorable or hostile to liberty depends on whether the governments within the system must compete with one another for citizen support or whether those governments are able to collude with one another, and thus expand political power relative to citizen liberty. While the United States was founded on competitive principles, it has morphed into a system of collusive federalism—and the 16th and 17th Amendments to the Constitution played a big role in this transition.
Peter J. Boettke, | Feb 18, 2014
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.
Peter J. Boettke, Alain Marciano | Feb 01, 2014
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.
Bruce Yandle | Dec 09, 2013
With autumn leaves falling and leftover Halloween jack-o-lanterns still grinning, first estimates for 3Q2013 GDP growth and news of October’s employment went bump in the night and rattled the spirits of Washington’s chatterbox. GDP growth came in with a “lofty” 2.8 percent real growth, which was much more than most soothsayers expected. Tapering is on the way! Or so it seemed. The stock marked tanked. Then the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that 204,000 jobs had been added to the economy in October; this also exceeded analysts’ expectations. The market recovered; the economy can handle tapering!
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 | Dec 01, 2013
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.

Testimony & Comments

Veronique de Rugy | Dec 04, 2013
Despite Washington’s recent focus on the disastrous Affordable Care Act website rollout, policymakers are missing what the rollout glitches symbolize: the fundamental flaws that imbue government intervention. The work of public choice economists such as Nobel laureate James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, Mancur Olson, and William Niskanen has shown that, despite good intentions and lavish use of taxpayer resources, government solutions are not only unlikely to solve most of our problems—they often make problems worse.
Veronique de Rugy | Jun 19, 2012
For obvious reasons, more than any other recent events, the waste of taxpayers’ money due to Solyndra’s failure has attracted much attention. However, the problems with loan guarantees are much more fundamental than the cost of one or more failed projects.
Richard Williams | Jun 11, 2012
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has requested comment on the 2012 Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations and Unfunded Mandates on State, Local and Tribal Entities (hereafter referred to as “the OMB report”). This comment has been produced by Richard A. Williams, Ph.D., of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, an education, research, and outreach organization that works with scholars, policy experts, and government officials to bridge academic theory and real-world practice.
Keith Hall | Jun 06, 2012
For BLS to effectively disseminate data directly to the public and maintain credibility as an independent, objective provider of data, DOL should not interfere with BLS’ dissemination of economic data through any means.
| May 09, 2012
A reverse mortgage for seniors is a reasonable idea, but should not be guaranteed by the Federal government. It is an ownership decision and the Federal government must stop trying to micromanage this decision, particularly since there is an easy alternative that does not require government guarantees.
| Apr 25, 2012
Let us be wary of creating another Jurassic Park policy change. We are in unchartered waters for housing finance and Federal Reserve policies and any further changes should be enacted with extreme caution.

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Christopher Koopman, Nita Ghei | Aug 27, 2013
In the mid-1970s behavioral economics began to challenge the neoclassical rational actor model by fusing the insights of psychology and economics. Over the course of the next 40 years, a prescriptive framework built around these insights shifted focus toward attempting to mitigate the harm individuals cause themselves as a result of what the agencies view as “irrational” behavior.
Kenneth Button | May 17, 2012
A new Mercatus Center study looks at the evolution and outcomes of government regulations in air transportation since the 1978 law was enacted.
Michael L. Marlow, Sherzod Abdukadirov | Mar 01, 2012
Obesity is not the result of market failure. Americans do not lack the knowledge, rationale, or motivation to improve their health. Thus, pursuing regulations intended for a market failure will not solve the problem.
Richard Williams, Sherzod Abdukadirov | Feb 07, 2012
The United States’ regulatory system long has failed to consistently produce efficient, cost-effective regulations that deliver promised benefits. For decades, presidents and Congresses have attempted to fix the regulatory system through a series of statutes and executive orders aimed at increasing transparency and improving analysis. Yet the pattern of poor regulatory choices persists, suggesting the problems are not political but deeply embedded in the institutions themselves.
| Nov 2011
A new working paper, “Why the United States Needs to Restructure the Corporate Income Tax,” by Mercatus Center at George Mason University senior scholar Jason Fichtner suggests successful reform of the U.S. corporate tax code must address its fundamental problems: 1) the uncompetitive corporate income tax rate; and 2) the outdated “worldwide” system for corporate tax collection.
Richard Williams | Jan 11, 2011
In this research summary, Richard Williams discusses how regulations affect investment and jobs.

Speeches & Presentations

Peter J. Boettke | Apr 12, 2010
Professor Peter J. Boettke's remarks upon receiving the 2010 Adam Smith Award from the Association of Private Enterprise Education.
Peter J. Boettke | Aug 07, 2007
This paper is Peter J. Boettke's speech at the twelfth Sir Ronald Trotter Lecture in New Zealand. Sir Ronald Trotter was the first chairman of the New Zealand Business Roundtable, who was knighted in…
Frederic Sautet | Jun 09, 2005
Frederic Sautet on Voice of America…
Frederic Sautet | Nov 19, 2004
On October 19, 2004, Mercatus Center Senior Fellow Frederic Sautet delivered a presentation on institutions and entrepreneurship to the New Zealand Business Roundtable (NZBR). This talk was part of…
Peter J. Boettke | Oct 27, 2004
Is there a unique Austrian School of Economics that represents a viable research program in modern economics? Peter Boettke locates the intellectual position and opportunities for mutually beneficial…
| Nov 10, 2003
From the conference "America's Role as Nation Builder: Lessons Learned and Applied to Iraq." Discussion in this session revolved around concerns of nation building experts and practitioners.

Expert Commentary

Dec 15, 2014

If the government truly wants to increase national happiness and well-being, the best thing it can do is to leave choices to those who know what happiness means to them — the people themselves.
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Nov 03, 2014

“Do well by doing good.” So goes the business mantra. But what does it mean? And why do even well intentioned leaders have a hard time fulfilling this popular ambition? Timeless answers can be found in a 1930’s article, “The Nature of the Firm.” Building on his recent undergraduate thesis, Ronald Coase asked why business managers visibly direct economic activity if competitive markets can seamlessly move goods and services to efficient uses. His answer proved so far reaching that the then curious undergrad earned a Nobel Prize in Economics over 50 years later.
Oct 21, 2014

This month brought the deaths of two people to whom I owe large debts. One was my first economics teacher, Michelle Bailliet, or Michelle Francois as she was known in 1977 when I took her introductory economics course at Nicholls State University. The second was Leonard Liggio, a scholar of wide-ranging erudition who, as president of the Institute for Humane Studies back in the 1980s, generously helped me to make professional connections that proved essential for whatever success I've enjoyed in my career.
Oct 10, 2014

This year, I am pleased to see that Thomson Reuters includes Israel Kirzner on the short list for the economic science prize, due to his paradigm-shifting contributions to the study of entrepreneurship.
Sep 23, 2014

History and sound analysis supply many reasons for those of us who celebrate mass prosperity to support free markets. Yet champions of free markets sometimes offer bad arguments to support their positions. These bad arguments only damage the case for free markets.
Sep 09, 2014

Thirty-five years ago, Rose and Milton Friedman traveled to Hong Kong to film some segments of their 10-part PBS series “Free To Choose.” The reason is that Hong Kong had then what it still has today: the world's freest economy.

Charts

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the economy grew by a modest 2 percent in the third quarter of 2012. While this was stronger growth than the preceding quarter, all of the increase in GDP growth came from the biggest increase in federal government spending in over two years.

Experts

Paul Dragos Aligica is a senior research fellow and senior fellow at the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Peter Boettke is the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism and the vice-president and director of the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center as well as University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University. He specializes in Austrian economics, economic history, institutional analysis, public choice, and social change.
Donald J. Boudreaux is a senior fellow with the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a Mercatus Center Board Member, and a professor of economics and former economics-department chair at George Mason University. He holds the Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center. He specializes in globalization and trade, law and economics, and antitrust economics.
Jerry Brito was a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and director of its Technology Policy Program. He also serves as an adjunct professor of law at George Mason University. His research focuses on technology and Internet policy, copyright, and the regulatory process.
Bryan Caplan is a senior scholar at the Mercatus Center and a professor of economics at George Mason University. He specializes in public economics, public choice, psychology and economics, public opinion, economics of the family and education, genoeconomics, and Austrian economics.

Podcasts

Marc Joffe | April 11, 2014
Marc Joffe Discusses the Cost of Pharmaceutical Drugs on the John Batchelor Show

Upcoming Events

Jan 22, 2015
Please join the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics for a panel discussion featuring Russ Roberts and his new book, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life.

Recent Events

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University invites you to join senior research fellow, Veronique de Rugy, for a discussion about what Washington's handling of the Ex-Im Bank will reveal about its intent to reduce special-interest handouts.

Books

Tyler Cowen | Sep 12, 2013
Widely acclaimed as one of the world’s most influential economists, Tyler Cowen returns with his groundbreaking follow-up to the New York Times bestseller The Great Stagnation.

Media Clippings

Donald J. Boudreaux | Jun 27, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in Vox.
Garett Jones | May 27, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in Forbes.
Peter J. Boettke | Mar 03, 2014
Mercatus cited at The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Alexander Tabarrok | Feb 07, 2014
Alex Tabarrok cited at The Economist.
Tyler Cowen | Nov 07, 2013
Tyler Cowen's book, "Average is Over" cited at The New Yorker.
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