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  • Author: Weiying Zhang
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: History and casual observations suggest that ideas and leadership are the two most important forces in all institutional changes. However, they have been absent or downplayed in conventional economic analysis of institutional changes. Conventional economics has exclusively focused on the notion of “interest” in explaining almost everything, from consumers' choices to public choices to institutional changes. IN particular, institutional changes have been modeled as a game of interests between different groups (such as the ruling and the ruled), with the assumption that there is a well-defined mapping from interests into outcomes.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Randall G. Holcombe
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Political capitalism is an economic and political system in which the economic and political elite cooperate for their mutual benefit. The economic elite influence the government's economic policies to use regulation, government spending, and the design of the tax system to maintain their elite status in the economy. The political elite are then supported by the economic elite which helps the political elite maintain their status; an exchange relationship that benefits both the political and economic elite.
  • Topic: Economics, War
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: George C. Bitros
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the aftermath of the unprecedented 2008 financial crisis, researchers of macroeconomics, finance, and political economy are showing renewed interest in the old but very significant question: Are central banks in large reserve currency democracies—in particular, the U.S. Federal Reserve—prone to creating asset bubbles, and if so, how is it possible to prevent the misuse of the banks' discretionary powers?
  • Topic: Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, England
  • Author: Thomas H. Mayor
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Karl Marx formulated his ideas in the middle of the 19th century when much of Europe, particularly England, was well along in what is often referred to as the Industrial Revolution. The central Marxist idea was that those who had wealth would reap the benefit of this revolution and become ever more wealthy while those who lived from their labor alone would be relegated to a bare subsistence. In his view, capital accumulation and increases in productivity do not benefit those who work for a living. Allegedly, those who own the means of production (wealth) and supposedly perform no work, receive all the benefits.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, England
  • Author: Ryan H. Murphy
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Contemporary economic policy debates are dominated by concerns regarding the rise in inequality (Stiglitz 2012, Piketty 2014). Primarily, this has led to a focus in re-invigorating redistribution. For instance, Robert Shiller (2014) has recently argued for indexing top marginal tax rates to inequality and using the revenues to fund transfer payments. Secondarily, there are the longstanding objections to “neoliberalism” in general, which has encouraged globalization and the liberalization of markets. To the extent that liberal reforms have improved economic institutions, might today's inequality subsequently derail them?
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Author: Richard E. Wagner
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Since the beginnings of the efforts of economist to give their discipline scientific grounding, economists have thought their theoretical efforts had relevance for addressing significant public issues. While the classical economists generally supported what Adam Smith described as the “system of natural liberty,” those economists also weighed in on numerous issues of public discussion. The tenor and substance of those efforts is set forth wonderfully by Lion Robbins (1952) and Warren Samuels (1966). While the analytical default setting of those economists was to support the system of natural liberty, they also recognized the value of sound public policy in supporting that stem. The classical economists thought that there could be publicly beneficial activities that the system. The classical economists thought that there could be publicly beneficial activities that the system of natural liberty would be unlikely to do well in providing. They also thought that there were activities provided through commercial transactions that could wreak significant effects on bystanders to those transactions. The amount of education acquired within a society was one such candidate (West 1965), with the care of the poor being another (Himmelfarb 1983). IN such matters as these, the classical economists engaged in strenuous debate and discussion that served as a forerunner to the development of welfare economics during the 20th century.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Philip K. Howard
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Phillip Howard is a lawyer nationally known for his best-selling books and extensive commentary on the dysfunctions of the American legal and political systems and the adverse effects those dysfunctions have on individual behavior and the overall workings of society.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Edmund S. Phelps
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In his most recent tome, Edmund Phelps, the 2006 Nobel Laureate in Economic Science, addresses a topic crucial to successful national capitalist systems: the dynamics of the innovation process. Phelps develops his thesis around three main themes: In part one, he explains the development of the modern economies as they form the core of early—19th century societies in the West; in part two, he explores the lure of socialism and corporatism as competing systems to modern capitalism; and, in part three, he reviews post-1960s evidence of decline in dynamism in Western capitalist countries.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Michael Teitelbaum
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In Washington, doomsday prophets tend to be effective motivational speakers. They successfully persuade the electorate that their cause is worthy and prompt Congress to take action. In his book Falling Behind? Boom, Bust, and the Global Race for Scientific Talent, Michael Teitelbaum takes on a particular brand of doomsday prophet: those who see impending shortages in the science and engineering workforce. Teitelbaum walks his readers through five postwar cycles of boom and bust in the science and engineering workforce, which eh argues have been driven to a large extend by political machinations set in motion by labor shortage claims (claims that have been almost universally rejected by economists studying the issue). The institutions that currently shape the science and engineering workforce are largely the product of policy responses to these booms and busts. As a result, Falling Behind? Is more than just a work of policy history. It is also a cogent analysis of contemporary R funding mechanisms, high-skill immigration policies, and PhD program structures.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Washington, Soviet Union
  • Author: James L. Buckley
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: “The United States faces two major problems today,” writes James L. Buckley: “runaway spending that threatens to bankrupt us and a Congress that appears unable to deal with long-term problems of any consequence.” Contributing significantly to both, he argues, are the more than 1,100 federal grants-in-aid programs Congress has enacted—federal grants to state and local governments, constituting 17 percent of the federal budget, the third-largest spending category after entitlements and defense, with costs that have risen from $24.1 billion in 1970 to $640.8 billion in fiscal 2015. His “modest proposal”? Do away with them entirely, thereby saving Congress from itself while emancipating the states and empowering their people. If that sounds like a program for revising constitutional federalism, it is.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Rebecca U. Thorpe
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In The American Warfare State, Reecca Thrope attempts to answer what she calls “the fundamental puzzle” of American politics: “Why a nation founded on a severe distrust of standing armies and centralized power developed and maintained the most powerful military in history.”
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Stephen J. K. Walters
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The image of a boom town is commonly used to describe exceptional conditions through which a village suddenly becomes a city. Often such conditions are the discovery of mineral deposits that attracts industry and commerce. While in their booming condition, such towns are oases of societal flourishing relative to their preceding state. In Boom Towns, Stephen J.K. Walters, a professor of economics at Loyola University in Baltimore, explains that cities in general have the capacity perpetually to b forms of boom towns. Cities can serve as magnets to attract people and capital, thus promoting the human flourishing that has always been associated with cities at their best. It is different if cities are at their worst, as Walters explains in brining Jane Jacobs's Death and Life of Great American Cities into explanatory ambit. There are no natural obstacles to cities occupying the foreground of societal flourishing. There are obstacles to be sure, but these are man-made. Being man-made, they can also be overcome through human action, at least in principle even if doing so in practice might be difficult.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The stability or instability of the market economy is an issue that has been all but ignored in macroeconomics for several decades. Within monetary economics, the distribution of income has been similarly ignored. The crisis of recent years tells us in no uncertain terms that we have to pay more attention to these two topics. Changes in financial regulation and in the conduct of monetary policy have not only played a very significant role in generating the financial crisis but have also been important in bringing about a large shift in the distribution of income over the last two or three decades
  • Author: Walker F. Todd
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Banks either are or should be fiduciaries holding the public’s funds as a public trust. Those who want to participate in the risktaking aspects of banking are shareholders (or should be shareholders). If the government is called upon to share the risks of banking, especially the risks of investment banking, then it should be a shareholder. As Edward J. Kane puts it, “For investment banker’s risk, there should be investment banker’s reward for the taxpayers.” And once the government is a shareholder, it owes a public duty to restrain the egregious risk taking and excess executive compensation in which banks seem to have wanted to engage for the last 30 years or so.
  • Author: Edwin Vieri Jr.
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In his Inaugural Address of 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt warned his fellow Americans that “in our progress towards a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order: there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments, so that there will be an end to speculation with other people’s money; and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.” Nonetheless, Roosevelt proceeded to promote an exceedingly unsound currency—with the seizure of most Americans’ gold, devaluation of gold coinage, removal of domestic redemption of Federal Reserve Notes in gold, and the nullification of gold clauses in both public and private contracts (Vieira 2002:867–1235).
  • Author: Jerry L. Jordan
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Fruitful consideration of the role of gold in a market-based monetary system must be preceded by an understanding of why gold is not part of our government-based monetary system. I have set out my view on that issue elsewhere (Jordan 2011) and will not repeat it here. People whose views on money I greatly respect still advocate restoring gold backing to the Federal Reserve-issued U.S. dollar. During the Hearings of the U.S. Gold Commission in 1981–82, several witnesses advocated restoration of some linkage between Federal Reserve-issued dollar notes and gold.
  • Author: George Selgin
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: More than a half century ago, in October 1961, Milton Friedman’s “Real and Pseudo Gold Standards” appeared in the Journal of Law and Economics. In that article, Friedman argued that versions of the gold standard erected after 1914, if not some earlier ones, were “pseudo” gold standards, differing from “real” ones in dispensing with actual gold coins and allowing monetary authorities to sterilize international gold movements, instead of letting those movements automatically regulate national money stocks. Such pseudo gold standards, Friedman argued, amounted to particularly dangerous instances of government price-fixing, and as such ought to be anathema to believers in free markets.
  • Author: Judy Shelton
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It has been more than six years since the global economy was put through the financial wringer and left hung out to dry. According to former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who presided over the debacle: “September and October of 2008 was the worst financial crisis in global history, including the Great Depression” (da Costa 2014). Given that Bernanke is a scholar on the global economic collapse of the 1930s, his assessment is particularly sobering. After all, a horrifying world war followed in its aftermath.
  • Author: Nathan Lewis
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Historically, there have been two basic frameworks by which a government organizes its monetary affairs. One of these—the Soft Money approach—we are quite familiar with today: a process by which a committee of government bureaucrats manages a floating fiat currency of some sort, on a day-to-day and ad hoc basis. The other format—the Hard Money approach—is typified by the Rule of Law, which is some definite and unchanging framework by which the currency is managed. Consequently, there is no need or role for a day-to-day human discretionary element, except perhaps in some of the particulars of the system’s execution.
  • Author: Geoffrey Black, D. Allan Dalton, Samia Islam, Aaron Batteen
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over 50 years ago, in "The Problem of Social Cost," Ronald Coase (1960) attempted to reorient the economics profession's treatment of externalities. He wanted to draw economists' attention away from the world of pure competition as a policy standard and investigate the consequences of transaction costs and property rights for the operation of markets. In 1991, he was awarded the Nobel prize in economics "for his discovery and clarification of the significance of transaction costs and property rights for the institutional structure and functioning of the economy" (Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 1991). The Academy cited both his 1960 article and his 1937 article "The Nature of the Firm."
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: New York