Regulation

Regulation

Research

Jason J. Fichtner, Patrick McLaughlin | Jun 02, 2015
The current legislative and regulatory processes may not adequately inform Congress about the scope and economic consequences of legislation. Even if Congress had such information, no mechanism exists to allow Congress to easily act upon it. The budget process permits Congress to monitor and fund programs based on fiscal impact information. These processes could be improved to provide more, better, and actionable information about legislative and regulatory actions, especially through a reform that we term “legislative impact accounting.”…
Richard Williams, James Broughel | May 27, 2015
Federal regulatory agencies have been required to produce a regulatory impact analysis (RIA) for major regulations since the early 1980s. The analysis should include an estimate of the expected benefits and costs of the regulatory action (a benefit-cost analysis, or BCA) as well as a description of the parties who are likely to receive those benefits and incur those costs. The latter part of an RIA is known as a distributional analysis, and is not part of a classic BCA. Distributional analysis explores how wealth is redistributed as a result of policy decisions.
Sherzod Abdukadirov | Apr 28, 2015
This paper argues that health advocates are too quick to blame consumers for the ineffectiveness of information disclosure policies. Using the NFP as an example, the paper shows that information disclosures are often poorly designed and fail to actually inform consumers. They often fail to account for how consumers perceive and interpret information or for the differences in their socioeconomic backgrounds. Thus, it may not be consumers’ behavioral biases but rather poor policy design and implementation that is responsible for the NFP’s ineffectiveness. Consequently, the paper argues that nutrition labels should follow smart disclosure principles, which emphasize information salience and usability.
John D. Graham , James Broughel | Apr 13, 2015
While agencies must have some leeway to carry out their missions and prioritize activities, agencies have many opportunities to evade checks and balances altogether via an array of mechanisms that circumvent the traditional rulemaking process. Congress and the president have many options available to strike a better balance between agency discretion and agency evasion of notice-and-comment and economic analysis requirements.
W. Kip Viscusi, Ted Gayer | Mar 31, 2015
A new paper for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University examines several examples in which government actors are subject to behavioral and political biases, leading to inefficient policies.
Stuart Shapiro, Deanna Moran | Mar 04, 2015
We review four major regulatory reform statutes passed since the legal enshrinement of the regulatory state by the Administrative Procedure Act in 1946. None of the four statutes can be said to have accomplished its substantive goals (which usually involved reducing the burden of regulation).

Testimony & Comments

Todd Nesbit | May 18, 2015
The argument in favor of implementing the “Electronic Distribution of Prescribing Information for Human Prescription Drugs, Including Biological Products” is flawed and incomplete. The FDA does not demonstrate that the regulation solves a significant problem, and it fails to estimate the benefits of the regulation for patient health. Ultimately, a more complete analysis of both the costs and, particularly, the benefits of the proposed regulation and of reasonable alternatives is needed before the FDA can claim that this particular regulation is in the best interests of the public.
Feler Bose | Apr 06, 2015
In a public interest comment published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, economist Feler Bose determines that the DOE fails to consider alternative approaches to its regulation by requiring the use of electronic ignition instead of implementing a performance standard for standby mode. The comment recommends several ways the DOE can improve its economic analysis and proposal.
Patrick McLaughlin | Mar 02, 2015
One reason it has been hard to address regulatory accumulation is the difficulty of identifying nonfunctional rules—rules that are obsolete, unnecessary, duplicative, or otherwise undesirable. An independent group or commission—not regulatory agencies—seems required to successfully identify nonfunctional rules.
Jerry Ellig | Feb 25, 2015
Debates over regulatory process reform often take a distinctly partisan tone. But the fundamental conflict in the debate over regulatory process reform is not Republicans versus Democrats, liberals versus conservatives, or even business versus the public. It’s knowledge versus ignorance. Decision makers should choose knowledge over ignorance.
Robert J. Michaels | Feb 17, 2015
The NOPR’s analysis of dishwashers is superficially detailed and modern in its research methods. In the areas discussed above and numerous others, the research embodied in it appears to be inadequate as a foundation for a rule that will apply to every dishwasher sold in the United States after 2019. Whatever errors and uncertainties are in the document, it is ultimately just an assertion that the DOE is better than consumers at choosing the energy efficiency and other attributes of dishwashers.
Sean Mulholland | Feb 16, 2015
Under the authority of the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing new technology requirements for all new and existing dental practices that use dental amalgam, which is the main source of mercury discharges into publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). The proposed rule would require dental offices to use amalgam separators and best management practices (BMPs) for capturing mercury and other metals before they are discharged into POTWs.

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Patrick McLaughlin, Robert Greene | May 08, 2014
Federal regulators often have good intentions when proposing new rules, such as increasing worker safety or protecting the environment. However, policymakers typically view each regulation on its own, paying little attention to the rapid buildup of rules—many of them outdated and ineffective—and how that regulatory accumulation hurts economic growth.
| Sep 24, 2013
The Mercatus State Policy Guide is intended to summarize and condense the best research available on the most relevant topics. It’s a starting point for discussion, not a comprehensive overview of economic policy. Each statement is supported by academic research, with links provided in the endnotes. Mercatus scholars are available to further explain the results of their studies. We hope the guide will prove to be a valuable tool in your economic policy research.
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.
| Jul 23, 2013
The Mercatus Policy Guide is intended to summarize and condense the best research available on the most pressing topics. It serves as a starting point for discussion, not a comprehensive overview of economic policy. Anyone who wants to go deeper into these studies should consult the references listed at the back. Mercatus scholars are available to further explain the results of their studies. We hope the guide will prove to be a valuable tool in your evaluation of economic policy.
Mark Adams | Mar 04, 2013
The president’s recent proposal to increase the minimum wage to $9.00 is not the way to help low-income households. Raising the minimum wage is more likely to increase unemployment for some of the least skilled American workers and further impede a historically slow recovery. Research from the Mercatus Center shows that regulatory reform would help low-income families without causing more unemployment or slowing the recovery.
Joshua C. Hall, Michael Williams | Feb 05, 2013
The concern that American businesses are overly burdened by regulations has legitimate grounds. In 2011, American companies had to comply with over 1 million federal regulatory restrictions, compared with about 860,000 a decade earlier.[1] However, to truly address concerns about overregulation, policy makers cannot focus exclusively on the growth of new regulations. Attention must also be paid to the lack of an efficient and effective regulatory review process for preexisting rules.

Speeches & Presentations

Jerry Ellig | Mar 20, 2014
Jerry Ellig's presents arguments for improved regulatory impact analysis at the College of Charleston.
James Broughel | Jan 30, 2014
Members of the Science Advisory Board (SAB), thank you for taking the time to hear to my comments this morning. Today’s topic—how to measure the impact of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on low-income and minority citizens in the United States—is both timely and important. At the research center where I work, we have begun to explore the consequences of regulations on vulnerable populations. I appreciate the opportunity to share some of our findings and to contribute to this important discussion.
Keith Hall | Jun 14, 2013
Regulation can play an important role in a market economy where there are significant market externalities, incomplete markets, information asymmetries, or public goods. Ideally, regulation identifies and focuses on correcting these market failures with minimal economic cost.
Richard Williams | Jul 08, 2012
The United States system of ensuring food safety (FS) is more than 100 years old and, until very recently, was the primary system designed to ensure FS. The system assumes that primarily federal regulators have the necessary knowledge to instruct food manufacturers on producing safe food, with both federal and state governments enforcing their respective regulations. While there have been notable successes in the last century — such as mandatory pasteurization for milk and other products, low acid canned food rules, and basic sanitation requirements — much of this progress was achieved in the first half of the 20th century. In the last 30 years, the incidence of foodborne disease has changed very little.
Jerry Ellig | Jan 14, 2010
Jerry Ellig participated in panel discussion before Texas policy makers in Austin, Texas at the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Policy Orientation on the future of the Texas Public Utility…
Jerry Ellig | Nov 05, 2009
Jerry Ellig was invited to give a lecture at Pepperdine University about the future of regulations in the federal government.

Mercatus Regulatory Studies


Charts

Federal agencies issue guidance documents that typically consist of sets of instructions or announcements written to inform regulated parties how to stay in compliance with the law. Owing to a confusing set of events, it is unclear whether these documents are receiving executive branch oversight from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). In the case of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), hundreds of guidance documents appear on its website, yet there is almost no evidence of oversight from OIRA.

Experts

Richard Williams is vice president for policy research, director of the Regulatory Studies Program, and a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He is an expert in benefit-cost analysis and risk analysis, particularly associated with food safety and nutrition.
Patrick A. McLaughlin is a Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Sherzod Abdukadirov is a research fellow in the Regulatory Studies Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He specializes in the federal regulatory process, institutional reforms, food and health, and social complexity.
Jerry Ellig is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and a former assistant professor of economics at George Mason University. He specializes in the federal regulatory process, economic regulation, and telecommunications regulation.
James Broughel is a program manager of the Regulatory Studies Program at the Mercatus Center. Mr. Broughel is a doctoral student in the economics program at George Mason University. He earned his MA in economics from Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Podcasts

Patrick McLaughlin | June 16, 2015
Federal regulations are so long it would take years to read them all. Patrick McLaughlin discusses ways to fight increasingly burdensome federal regulations on the Glen Meakem Show.

Upcoming Events

Jul 15, 2015
The Mercatus Center invites you to join research fellow Christopher Koopman for a presentation examining the economics and policy issues surrounding the sharing economy.

Recent Events

The Mercatus Center invites you to join Dr. Bruce Yandle, distinguished Mercatus Center adjunct professor of economics at George Mason University, for a Capitol Hill Campus presentation examining the regulation-entangled U.S. economy.

Books

Jerry Brito, Andrea Castillo | Jan 23, 2014
Como la primera moneda digital descentralizada del mundo, Bitcoin tiene el potencial de revolucionar los sistemas de pago en línea de una manera que beneficia a los consumidores y las empresas. En lugar de utilizar un intermediario, como PayPal, o entregar información de tarjeta de crédito a un tercer partido para su verificación—ya que los dos incluyen cargos de transacción y otras restricciones— Bitcoin permite que los individuos paguen directamente entre sí para bienes o servicios.

Media Clippings

Antony Davies | May 07, 2014
Antony Davies quoted at The Hill.
Eli Dourado | Feb 04, 2014
Eli Dourado cited at The Washington Post.
Matthew Mitchell | Oct 22, 2013
Matt Mitchell discusses "Uber Wars" on Reason TV.
Jerry Brito | Oct 03, 2013
Jerry Brito cited at The Wall Street Journal.
Jerry Brito | Oct 03, 2013
Jerry Brito cited at Los Angeles Times.
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