Study of American Capitalism

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

Carrie Kerekes, Dean Stansel | Oct 13, 2014
This paper provides the first examination of the relationship between eminent domain activity and the growth (and level) of state and local revenue. We restrict our attention to takings that are for private use, such as the one that led to the landmark Kelo decision in 2005.
Christopher Koopman, Matthew Mitchell, Emily Washington | Sep 30, 2014
A lame duck session of Congress occurs when legislators meet after an election has been held but before the next Congress has taken office. Lame duck sessions are often criticized by the victorious party in the election, and a common critique is that the lame duck members—undisciplined by electoral constraints—vote irresponsibly. There are subtle but statistically significant differences between voting patterns in regular and lame duck sessions, as revealed by analysis of over 50,000 House and Senate roll call votes.
Jeremy Horpedahl | Sep 16, 2014
In Nebraska the total forgone revenue due to tax privileges amounts to just over $2 billion, compared with roughly $7.2 billion in total revenue collected by the relevant taxes. Eliminating these privileges and simultaneously lowering tax rates could save an average Nebraskan family more than $3,200 dollars if the benefits of tax reform are evenly distributed, with no reduction in government services.
Veronique de Rugy, Andrea Castillo | Jul 16, 2014
This paper provides a brief overview of the history and operations of the Ex-Im Bank, followed by an examination of the key justifications for the bank’s continued authorization.
Thomas Stratmann, Jake Russ | Jul 15, 2014
Many states have certificate-of-need regulations, which prohibit hospitals, nursing homes, and ambulatory surgical centers from entering new markets or making changes to the existing capacity of medical facilities without first gaining approval from certificate-of-need regulators.
Russell Sobel, Rachel Graefe-Anderson | Jul 09, 2014
The US federal government’s response to the financial crisis was an unprecedented increase in government subsidies, grants, and contracts given directly to specific private businesses. The terms “crony capitalism” and “cronyism” are now widely used to describe the modern relationship between government and private business.

Testimony & Comments

Veronique de Rugy | Jun 25, 2014
The Bank has long outlived its purpose and cannot manage to meet the standards of the new missions that have been developed to validate its existence. For policymakers who have the facts, the choice is clear: the Export-Import Bank must go.
Veronique de Rugy | Jul 18, 2012
The Department of Energy’s loan guarantee programs have been the focus of much public attention since energy companies Solyndra, Beacon Power, and Abound went bankrupt, leaving taxpayers to shoulder hundreds of mil- lions of dollars in loan guarantees. The evidence strongly suggests that these programs fall short of their stated goals of developing clean energy and creating jobs.
Todd Zywicki | Jul 10, 2012
Much of the government’s political intervention in the bankruptcy cases appears to have been motivated to benefit the UAW rather than the companies themselves over U.S. taxpayers, who put billions of dollars at risk to fund the bailouts.
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.
| May 25, 2011
Anthony Sanders testified before the House Committee on Financial Services about steps to end the GSE bailout.
Todd Zywicki | May 24, 2011
Todd Zywicki testified before the House Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs.

Speeches & Presentations

Expert Commentary

Oct 17, 2014

Proponents of eminent domain for private development -- i.e., of forcibly taking private property and giving it to another private party -- claim it will generate more revenue for state and local governments. The Supreme Court even based its landmark 2005 case Kelo v. City of New London on this assertion, holding that the alleged economic benefits for communities legally justify these takings as "public use."
By Thomas Stratmann, Darpana M. Sheth |
Oct 14, 2014

The most pernicious aspect of CON programs is that they remove the ability of consumers to dictate which medical services are available, turning that power over to regulators and medical providers. That's foolish. Building a 21st century health care system will take experimentation. The last thing states should do is stand in the way of medical entrepreneurs.
Oct 12, 2014

To better understand the differences between lame duck and regular session voting patterns, we recently analyzed over 50,000 House and Senate roll call votes. Our analysis controls for the idiosyncratic voting patterns of different Congresses and the different patterns that emerge near the end of the year. Our most salient finding is that during a lame duck session, representatives are 50 percent more likely and senators 30 percent more likely to miss votes.
Oct 06, 2014

A debate rages in South Carolina over the possibility that the Export-Import Bank will lose its borrowing privileges at the Treasury Department. This obscure government bank provides taxpayer-backed financing for a small number of domestic and international companies in the hope of boosting U.S. exports.
Sep 29, 2014

Regardless of the legislation that finds its way into this December’s lame-duck session, it will be an opportunity – for better or worse – to see what many outgoing members are truly made of. Free from both party and special interest control, they can effect change without the typical political ramifications.
Sep 08, 2014

The Export-Import Bank is the epitome of corporatism. It is time to acknowledge the unseen victims of the Ex-Im Bank deals and stand up for them by shutting it down.

Charts

This week’s charts use data from the Subsidy Tracker 2.0 dataset compiled by Good Jobs First, a government accountability and smart-growth advocacy group, to display the states (plus the District of Columbia) that disperse the highest amounts and numbers of subsidies, along with the top parent corporations that cumulatively benefit from these subsidies.

Experts

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Her primary research interests include the US economy, the federal budget, homeland security, taxation, tax competition, and financial privacy. Her popular weekly charts, published by the Mercatus Center, address economic issues ranging from lessons on creating sustainable economic growth to the implications of government tax and fiscal policies. She has testified numerous times in front of Congress on the effects of fiscal stimulus, debt and deficits, and regulation on the economy.
Matthew Mitchell is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he is the lead scholar on the Project for the Study of American Capitalism. He is also an adjunct professor of economics at Mason. In his writing and research, he specializes in economic freedom and economic growth, public-choice economics, and the economics of government favoritism toward particular businesses.
Eileen Norcross is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. As lead researcher on the Mercatus Center’s State and Local Policy Project, she focuses on questions of public finance and how economic institutions support or hamper economic resiliency and civil society. She specializes in fiscal federalism and institutions, state and local governments and finance, pensions, public administration, and economic development.
Adam Thierer is a senior research fellow with the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He specializes in technology, media, Internet, and free-speech policies, with a particular focus on online safety and digital privacy. His writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and Forbes, and he has appeared on national television and radio. Thierer is a frequent guest lecturer and has testified numerous times on Capitol Hill.

Podcasts

Dean Stansel | October 20, 2014
Dean Stansel Discusses Eminent Domain on the Schilling Show

Recent Events

Despite the ideological miles that separate them, activists in the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements agree on one thing: both condemn the recent bailouts of wealthy and well-connected banks. But when it comes to government-granted privileges to particular firms or industries the bailouts were just the tip of the iceberg.

Books

Media Clippings

Veronique de Rugy | Aug 24, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in Wall Street Journal.
Veronique de Rugy | Jun 25, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in The Washington Post.
| Jun 15, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal.
Veronique de Rugy | Jun 08, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal.
Veronique de Rugy | May 20, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in Wall Street Journal.
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