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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
  • Author: Jason E. Taylor, Jerry L. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In September 2012, seven weeks before the presidential election—one in which top marginal tax rates were a major policy difference between the two major—party candidates-the Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a paper (Hungerford 2012) suggesting that there is no empirical evidence that top marginal tax rates impact U.S. economic growth. After all, top marginal tax rates were above 90 percent during the 1950s and early 1960s when the economy experienced rapid growth. Furthermore, marginal tax rate cuts in 2001 and 2003 were followed by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The CRS study was widely reported in blogs, newspapers such as the New York Times, and The Atlantic magazine. It was portrayed as evidence refuting Republican candidate Mitt Romney's position that cutting the top marginal tax rate from 35 to 28 percent would spur economic growth and supporting Democratic President Barack Obama's position that top marginal tax rates could be raised to 39.6 percent with no cost to economic growth (Leonhart 2012, Thompson 2012).
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John Merrifield, Barry W. Poulson
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Economic downturns expose unsustainable fiscal practices. Widespread fiscal crises create opportunities to compare policy options that address especially adverse circumstances, especially progrowth fiscal constraints that can stabilize state budgets over the business cycle. Our policy option assessments depart from the normal practice of assessing rules and policies independently. Our premise is that the fiscal policy mix determines its outcomes. We include dynamic scoring to provide a richer view of the policy interactions.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: California
  • Author: Andrew Foy, Christopher Sciamanna, Mark Kozak, Edward J. Filippone
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Since 1970, the annual growth in U.S. health care spending per capita has been more than double the real growth in GDP per capita: 4.3 percent versus 2 percent. Over that same time period countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) averaged an annual growth rate of 3.8 percent in health care spending per capita compared to only a 2.1 percent annual growth in GDP per capita. Eight of 20 countries had higher average annual growth rates in health care spending per capita than the United States (White 2007). In light of the pronounced institutional differences among these countries in medical financing arrangements, the similarity in the rate of health care spending growth is striking. Therefore, any explanation that seeks to account for the tremendous cost growth in health care over the last several decades must hold true across all OECD countries.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Robert Krol
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Forecasts of future economic activity underlie any budget revenue projection. However, the forecasters in a government agency may face incentives or pressures that introduce forecast bias. For example, agency forecasters may be rewarded for a rosy growth forecast that allows politicians to avoid politically costly program cuts or tax increases. Similarly they may be penalized for underforecasting economic growth. Where a reward system is asymmetric, it would make sense to observe biased forecasts.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: California
  • Author: Paul Ballonoff
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Recently The Economist (2013a), a prominent journalistic advocate of strong policies to control CO2 emissions, expressed their puzzlement on the absence of warming over the last 15 years. They observed that this flat period of global average temperature occurred despite that CO2 emissions from human sources continued at an increased rate. The total human-produced CO2 emissions in that period of flat temperatures represent a quarter of all such emissions ever produced. The standard climate models, such as those used by the United Nation's International Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC), anticipated that such massive CO2 increases should have caused continuing increases in average global temperatures. The Economist noted that observed global average temperature is now at the lowest end of the predicted range, and that if the present trend continues, the actual temperatures will soon be below even the lowest forecasts. Most recently, Fyfe, Gillett, and Zwiers (2013) demonstrated that the current climate models have experienced a systematic failure—a finding very similar to Knappenberger and Michaels (2013).
  • Topic: Environment, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Joshua R. Hendrickson
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: A bank is considered insolvent when its liabilities (deposits) exceed the value of its assets (reserves, loans, and securities). If assets exceed liabilities, any losses experienced on the asset side of the bank balance sheet result in a corresponding loss in the bank's capital. Insolvency occurs only in the event of losses exceeding the value of capital. All else equal, a bank with more capital is at lower risk of insolvency because the value of the bank's capital fluctuates with the value of assets.
  • Topic: Civil War
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom
  • Author: Thomas L. Hogan, William J. Luther
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Diamond-Dybvig (DD) model is often cited as a theoretical justification for government deposit insurance. In the model, rational agents find it in their interest to withdraw their bank deposits if they suspect other depositors plan to do likewise. When a sufficient number of agents are expected to liquidate their accounts, a bank run ensues. Guaranteeing deposits through a system of government administered deposit insurance removes the temptation to run on the bank and thereby precludes the need to ever use the deposit insurance.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Paul H. Rubin
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: A concept recently developed by scholars in psychology and biology is "pathological altruism." (Oakley 2013, Oakley et al. 2012). A pathological altruist is defined as "a person who sincerely engages in what he or she intends to be altruistic acts, but who harms the very person or group he or she is trying to help, often in unanticipated fashion; or harms others; or irrationally becomes a victim of his or her own altruistic actions." (Oakley, Knafo, and McGrath 2012: 4). We may relate this concept to Buchanan's Samaritan's dilemma: Buchanan's Samaritan is the altruist, and the pathology is that the recipient will be in the "no work" cell, so that the Samaritan becomes a victim of his own altruistic actions (Buchanan 1975).
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Trevor Burrus
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government, Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI), and Don Watkins, a fellow at ARI, give a full-throated and spirited defense of Rand's arguments for freedom, self-actualization, and the just society. The book is a clear explanation of objectivism that weaves in timely and accurate policy discussions, such as the chapter on health care, that buttress the overall point.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The majority of books on the recent financial crisis tend to be written either by economics/finance experts or by journalists. While the journalistic accounts occasionally focus on political actors, it is usually in the manner of "bad people doing bad things" rather than with a theoretical framework. The economic accounts, with some exception, rarely incorporate the politics of finance. It is this vacuum that Political Bubbles attempts to fill.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Patrick J. Michaels
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Yale historian Paul Sabin's The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble over Earth's Future is worth a read because of its detailed tour through the world of environmental doomsaying. Yet, in the end, I was profoundly disappointed, consigning this book to my very large Cassandra File because Sabin endorses that doomsaying as expressed by dreaded global warming.
  • Topic: Climate Change
  • Author: Peter Van Doren
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Economic shocks in an unregulated textbook world are managed through the price system. During gluts, prices fall and the least efficient firms lose wealth and exit the market. The result is that supply falls and demand increases. Eventually a new equilibrium is reached in which prices increase toward marginal cost and risk-adjusted returns to firms equal the cost of capital. During shortages, prices rise, existing firms receive rents, and new firms enter the market. The result is that supply increases and demand falls. Eventually a new equilibrium is reached in which prices decrease toward marginal cost and risk-adjusted returns to firms fall to equal the cost of capital.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve Act was passed on December 23, 1913. It was designed to provide an elastic currency that would respond to the needs of trade. There was nothing in the Act about price stability, interest rates, or full employment. The expectation was that the United States would continue to define the dollar in terms of gold, and that the operation of the international gold standard would ensure long-run price stability.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Charles I. Plosser
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Douglass C. North, co-winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Economics, argued that institutions were deliberately devised to constrain interactions among parties—both public and private (North 1991). In the spirit of North's work, one theme of this article will be that the institutional structure of the central bank matters. The central bank's goals and objectives, its framework for implementing policy, and its governance structure all affect its performance.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jerry L. Jordan
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: All of us who are interested in the century-long experience of central banking in the United States owe a great debt to Allan Meltzer. His several-years-long efforts gave us over 2,000 pages of careful documentation of decisionmaking in the Federal Reserve for the first 75 years (Meltzer 2003, 2010a, 2010b). The first score of years transformed a lender-of-last-resort, payments processor, and issuer of uniform national currency into a full-fledged central bank with discretionary authority to manage a fiat currency.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: George Selgin
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For a private-sector firm, success can mean only one thing: that the firm has turned a profit. No such firm can hope to succeed, or even to survive, merely by declaring that it has been profitable. A government agency, on the other hand, can succeed in either of two ways. It can actually accomplish its mission. Or it can simply declare that it has done so, and get the public to believe it.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Athanasios Orphanides
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The founding of the Federal Reserve was a good idea, but its performance during its first hundred years has been hampered by the lack of clarity of its mandate. At times its mandate was interpreted as requiring the pursuit of multiple targets resulting in the failure to safeguard price stability over time. This article reviews the evolution of the Federal Reserve's mandate and argues that Congress should clarify the primacy of price stability as the central bank's mandate to ensure that the Federal Reserve will better safeguard monetary stability going forward.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lawrence H. White
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Proposals abound for reforming monetary policy by instituting a less-discretionary or nondiscretionary system ("rules") for a fiat-money- issuing central bank to follow. The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee could be given a single mandate or more generally an explicit loss function to minimize (e.g., the Taylor Rule). The FOMC could be replaced by a computer that prescribes the monetary base as a function of observed macroeconomic variables (e.g., the McCallum Rule). The role of determining the fiat monetary base could be stripped from the FOMC and moved to a prediction market (as proposed by Scott Sumner or Kevin Dowd). Alternative proposals call for commodity money regimes. The dollar could be redefined in terms of gold or a broader commodity bundle, with redeemability for Federal Reserve liabilities being reinstated. Or all Federal Reserve liabilities could actually be redeemed and retired, en route to a fully privatized gold or commodity-bundle standard (White 2012). All of these approaches assume that there will continue to be a single monetary regime in the economy, so that the way to institute an alternative is to transform the dominant regime.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Richard H. Timberlake, Jr.
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve System is no longer just an unconstitutional monetary institution promoting a continuing inflation; it has also become, with quantitative easing, an unauthorized fiscal agent for the U.S. government. The fiat currency and equally fiat bank reserves it creates are much in contrast to the private currency and bank reserves that the commercial banks' clearing house associations provided in the latter half of the 19th century. It is that episode I review here.
  • Topic: Civil War
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Scott B. Sumner
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The history of central banking is a story of one failure after another. This record does not mean that our actual monetary regimes have been the worst of all possible regimes—far from it. But it does mean that we can improve policy by learning from experience. Every proposed reform is a response to a previous failure, an implicit display of lessons learned.
  • Political Geography: Canada
  • Author: Jeb Hensarling
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Before I get into the body of the remarks, I want to thank the Cato Institute for everything it stands for and everything it has meant to me. As I was walking in the foyer, I noticed a copy of the Cato Journal on a table there. I recall as an undergraduate student at Texas A University in the 1970s that I took $25 dollars—and I'm a guy who worked my way through college—of my hard-earned money to invest in the Cato Journal. That was money I could have invested in long necks at the Dixie Chicken, our local watering hole. Also, I would like to thank John Allison. If you have not read his book, The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism Is the World Economy's Only Hope, I commend it to you. Finally, I would like to tell you that as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, before I decide to move out on any particular issue, I certainly glean the scholarship of Cato in general and Mark Calabria in particular.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: John A. Allison
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: I am going to talk from a different perspective because I am the only person who actually ran a bank that's been speaking today, and from that context I can tell you with absolute certainty that market discipline beats regulatory discipline. In fact, I will argue that regulatory discipline will always fail to reduce volatility and will slow economic growth. These observations are based on my understanding of public choice theory and particularly on 40 years of concrete experience in the banking business.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Martin Hutchinson, Kevin Dowd
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Financial regulation is a recurring and central issue in contemporary policy discussions. Typically, leftists want more of it, while proponents of free markets want less, or preferably, none of it. We would suggest, however, that the central issue is not whether markets should be regulated, but by whom—by the market itself, which includes self-regulation by market practitioners, or by the state or one of its agencies. To put it in Coasean terms, what is the most appropriate institutional arrangement by which markets—including financial markets-should be regulated?
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Kevin P. Brady
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: By every economic measure, our nation is presently mired in a disappointing economic recovery. In fact, ours is the weakest recovery of the past half century. Uncertainty reigns as the purchasing power of the dollar declines. What ails us goes well beyond federal fiscal policy, and it is certainly not the result of an irrational marketplace. What ails us goes much deeper to our nation's monetary policy, which is well overdue for a review.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Gerald P. O'Driscoll, Jr.
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The intellectual climate has never been more open to a critical analysis of existing monetary institutions both here and abroad. When the Germans agreed to a monetary union, they were promised that they would keep the Bundesbank; only the name would be changed to the European Central Bank. Instead, Germans with whom I have spoken now think they got the Banca d'Italia. In the United States, before the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve was held in high regard by the public. Now, at least in some circles, "the Fed" has become a term of opprobrium, not unlike "the IRS."
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Germany
  • Author: R. David Ranson
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Passing its 100th birthday, the Federal Reserve is receiving unprecedented scrutiny. We (the public) are living through the consequences of its attempts to bolster the U.S. economy through exceptionally low interest rates and the conversion of great quantities of debt to money. Although these efforts are ongoing, we are disappointed. Even with the help of strenuous actions on the fiscal side, economic and credit-market recovery from the recession of 2008–09 was notoriously slow. It took 15 quarters for U.S. real GDP to pass its pre-recession high in the fourth quarter of 2007, compared to only 7 quarters following the deep recession of 1981–82. On a per capita basis, there was an even starker contrast between the two recoveries. Moreover, the Fed remains a suspect in the genesis of the financial crisis that precipitated the Great Recession. The ultimate test of its role as overseer and regulator of the commercial banking system met with a very poor result.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lewis E. Lehrman
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: To evaluate the history of the Federal Reserve System, we cannot help but wonder, whither the Fed? and to consider wherefore its reform—even what and how to do it. But first let us remember whence we came one century ago.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jonathan Blanks
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Criminal justice reform has been gaining momentum in Washington, attracting policymakers from both sides of the aisle. Draconian mandatory minimum sentences, overcrowded prisons, and bloated criminal justice budgets have made reform a bipartisan issue. This is undoubtedly a positive development, but—as is typical with the political process—the most popular reforms are not enough. Most of the political capital and rhetoric focuses on "back-end" criminal justice reforms, such as sentencing reform, early release, and alternatives to incarceration. While these reforms are sorely needed, the "front end" of the criminal justice system—criminal laws, the courts, and policing itself—also needs thorough examination. Radley Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cop is an exemplar of what these assessments should look like in the American context.
  • Political Geography: America, Washington
  • Author: Travis Evans
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For the better part of a decade, the United States has been mired in mediocrity, settling for what feels like a new normal of low eco- nomic growth, stagnant wages, political intransigence, and an unending war or terror. Many think America's better days are behind it. Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, disagrees. In Foreign Policy Begins at Home , Haass attempts to reverse American defeatism and assuage fears of American decline, arguing instead that the United States is simply underperforming, suffering from "American made" problems that can be corrected by restoring the "foundations of its power." He explains that America's true strength abroad comes from its strength at home, and if America is to provide global leadership it "must first put its house in order." While much of Foreign Policy focuses on policy prescriptions that would restore American strength, the true contribution of the book is its explanation of why such a strategy is needed.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, America
  • Author: Tom G. Palmer
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In Why Capitalism? Meltzer has assembled a number of short studies of policy, the good and the bad, tied together by an aphorism from Immanuel Kant: "Out of timber so crooked as that from which man is made, nothing entirely straight can be carved.
  • Political Geography: North Korea