Veronique de Rugy

Veronique de Rugy

  • Senior Research Fellow

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and a nationally syndicated columnist. Her primary research interests include the U.S. 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.

De Rugy is the author of a weekly opinion column for the Creators Syndicate, writes regular columns for Reason magazine, and she blogs about economics at National Review Online’s the Corner. Her charts, articles, and commentary have been featured in a wide range of media outlets, including the Reality Check segment on Bloomberg Television’s Street Smart, the New York Times’ Room for Debate, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, CNN International, Stossel, 20/20, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, and Fox News.

Previously, de Rugy has been a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, and a research fellow at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Before moving to the United States, she oversaw academic programs in France for the Institute for Humane Studies Europe. She received her MA in economics from the Paris Dauphine University and her PhD in economics from the Pantheon-Sorbonne University.

Published Research

Veronique de Rugy, Diane Katz | Apr 15, 2015
Ex-Im Bank advocates emphasize its importance to small businesses and economic growth. A new analysis of government data reveals that Ex-Im Bank’s top 10 overseas buyers are large corporations that primarily purchase exports from multinational conglomerates. Ex-Im Bank’s small business narrative is challenged by the fact that the buyers receiving the most subsidies are—like the exporters—major corporations.
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.
Robert J. Barro , Veronique de Rugy | May 07, 2013
While the impact of across-the-board federal defense-spending cuts on national security may be up for debate, claims of these cuts’ dire impact on the economy and jobs are grossly overblown.
Veronique de Rugy, Alberto Alesina | Mar 07, 2013
There is still significant debate about the short-term economic impact of fiscal adjustments. However, as we will show in this paper, important lessons have emerged.

Working Papers

Veronique de Rugy, Matthew Mitchell | Sep 12, 2011
Four years into the deepest recession since World War II, the U.S. economy expanded at a rate of only 0.7 percent in the first half of 2011. This means that the economy is growing at a slower pace than the population and that capita output continues to fall. In response, the president has announced a plan for yet more deficit-financed stimulus spending.
Veronique de Rugy | Aug 04, 2011
This paper takes a look at the nature and size of supplemental appropriations bills and the abuse of emergency spending.
Veronique de Rugy | Sep 16, 2010
With the unemployment rate in the United States lingering just below 10 percent and elections approaching rapidly, job creation has become Washington’s top priority. Arguing that small businesses…
Veronique de Rugy | Jun 15, 2010
For every attempt to cap government spending by regulation or statute, lawmakers seem to find new and creative accounting techniques that allow them to continue spending recklessly. In fact, there is…


Veronique de Rugy | Nov 18, 2015
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, freshly signed into law by President Obama, suspends the $18.1 trillion federal debt ceiling until March 2017. It also busts the 2011 Budget Control Act—which I previously discussed—for the second time. It does so by raising the caps on discretionary funding by $50 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2016 and $30 billion for FY 2017.
Veronique de Rugy | Oct 20, 2015
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to find more ways to raise funding above the level permitted by the caps. Republicans would like to increase the caps on defense funding while Democrats would like to increase the caps on nondefense funding. That should concern taxpayers because, as the following charts show, the caps and accompanying sequestration enforcement mechanism have been successful in constraining the discretionary share of the federal budget.
Veronique de Rugy | Sep 23, 2015
As I underscored in two recent charts, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is financially unsustainable, and to save it, policymakers need to rein in benefits, which have exploded in recent years. This week’s charts add two important points: first, that SSDI has turned into a quasi-unemployment program, and second, that the good intentions that prompt the creation of federal programs are not enough to prevent poor and costly outcomes.
Veronique de Rugy | Sep 02, 2015
The 2015 annual report from the Social Security Board of Trustees shows that the program’s disability component is in immediate trouble. Data from the latest report show that the disability fund will be depleted as soon as next year and unable to pay full benefits to beneficiaries. This week’s first chart uses that data to show total income, expenditures, and assets in the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund going back to 1980.
Veronique de Rugy | Aug 26, 2015
Defenders of the US Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) cite its working capital programs as evidence that the agency plays a critical role in supporting small businesses. As one of four main components of Ex-Im’s export subsidies, the working capital programs represent a relatively small component of the agency’s overall portfolio. The agency as a whole mainly benefits large, politically connected firms, as I have previously demonstrated.
Veronique de Rugy | Jul 28, 2015
The following chart shows projected revenues and spending under the president’s proposal according to the new figures provided by the MSR. The first graph displays the data in dollar amounts while the second shows revenues and spending as a share of the economy (GDP).
Veronique de Rugy, Diane Katz | Jul 24, 2015
Among its four principal financial products, the Export-Import Bank has provided “working capital” loans and loan guarantees that assure repayment to private lenders in the event a borrower defaults. According to bank officials, this form of subsidized financing “primarily” benefits small business. In a July 16 letter to Sen. Marco Rubio and others, Ex-Im president Fred Hochberg characterized the bank’s working capital financing as “issued to mostly small businesses.”…
Veronique de Rugy | Jul 14, 2015
To the put the Ex-Im Bank’s support of American businesses in perspective, we reproduced the White House table and replaced the nominal numbers with the share that each category represents. These shares show the impact of Ex-Im Bank financing on each state as a percentage of that state’s total exports but also small businesses and exporters over the same period.

Policy Briefs

Veronique de Rugy, Jason J. Fichtner | Aug 21, 2014
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.
Veronique de Rugy, Adam Thierer | Oct 11, 2011
This paper considers the economic implications of an internet sales tax and its effect on trade and competition between states.
Veronique de Rugy, Jason J. Fichtner | May 26, 2011
While the United States should not default on its debt, neither should Congress raise the debt ceiling without addressing the problem that created the debt: excessive spending.
Veronique de Rugy, Jason J. Fichtner | Jan 24, 2011
Lawmakers will consider different options for Social Security reform in the coming year; do they have all the necessary facts to do this? This Mercatus on Policy highlights the key points they need to know.

Testimony & Comments

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.
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.
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 | 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.

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Veronique de Rugy, Nita Ghei, Michael Wilt | Jul 28, 2015
The US Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) is a government credit agency that provides tax- payer-backed financing to private exporting businesses. An increasing body of evidence shows that the Ex-Im Bank provides subsidized financing to big businesses at the expense of smaller businesses and taxpayers while doing little to promote exports, create jobs, or improve competitiveness of US firms. Removing this source of government-granted privilege can only help US exporters.
Jason J. Fichtner, Veronique de Rugy | Dec 03, 2013
Some in Washington claim the federal spending and deficit problem is solved. While the deficit has been cut in half (from a record-high of $1.4 trillion in FY09 to $680 billion in FY13), this reduction can be attributed to several singular events, such as the end of the payroll tax “holiday” and higher receipts from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Over the longer term, deficits and debt are projected to continue increasing.
Veronique de Rugy, Jason J. Fichtner | Oct 10, 2013
As federal government borrowing is set to exceed yet another debt limit, most are quick to recall—and wish to avoid a repeat of—the 2011 debt-limit showdown. If current rhetoric is any indication, it appears many of the last debate’s lessons have been forgotten. Regrettably, it seems many of the debate’s facts have been forgotten as well.
Jason J. Fichtner, Jacob Feldman, Jeremy Horpedahl, Brandon Pizzola, Bruce Yandle, Veronique de Rugy | Jul 15, 2013
The most basic goal of tax policy is to raise enough revenue to meet the government’s spending requirements, preferably with minimal impact on market behavior. The US tax code has long failed to achieve this goal; by severely distorting market decisions and the allocation of resources, it impedes both potential economic growth and potential tax revenue. The nation’s persistently sluggish economic growth and dire long-term fiscal outlook have increased the urgency to reform the federal revenue system. But what does successful, sustainable tax reform look like? What are its key elements? And what would it achieve?

Media Clippings

Veronique de Rugy | Aug 24, 2014
Outlet: Wall Street Journal
Veronique de Rugy | Jun 25, 2014
Outlet: The Washington Post
Veronique de Rugy | Jun 08, 2014
Outlet: The Wall Street Journal
Veronique de Rugy | May 20, 2014
Outlet: Wall Street Journal

Data Sets

Expert Commentary

Nov 26, 2015

Absent the major reforms that Medicare needs, programs such as RAC provide a modicum of accountability for an otherwise out-of-control and unaffordable welfare state. That's why the RAC program has been a persistent target of hospitals and other beneficiaries of wrongful payments. Congress could not only compel CMS to change course but also ensure that more auditors are commissioned to track down improper payments on behalf of taxpayers.
Nov 11, 2015

One need not be intricately familiar with the tale of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" to appreciate that the federal budget process has similarly become an alternate reality replete with sketchy characters, peril and the absurd. In the latest trip down the Beltway rabbit hole, a Republican-led Congress relied on Democratic votes to produce a two-year budget agreement that removed the limit on Uncle Sam's credit card and increased spending now in exchange for offsetting spending cuts and revenue increases that will mostly occur 10 years from now. Well, that's if future Congresses stick to the offsets.
Oct 28, 2015

The EITC is best described as an anti-poverty program that encourages people to work. In a new study published by the Cato Institute, Chris Edwards and I explain that based on a deep dive into the economic literature and the budgetary impact of the program, conservatives and liberals alike underestimate its cost while overselling its benefits. That is why we advise cutting the program.
Oct 22, 2015

Overstepping statutory boundaries to go outside the agency's originally intended scope of power, CFPB regulations for payday lenders would, among other things, require them to verify the income, financial obligations and financial history of potential borrowers before offering a loan. That's not an unreasonable cost for a mortgage, but it's an excessive and unjustifiable burden for a small-dollar loan.
' '