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  • Author: Peter Clark
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: At one point during the recent financial crisis the queen of England reportedly asked economists at the London School of Economics a seemingly straightforward question: “Why did academic economists fail to foresee the crisis?” This question can be broadened to include central banks, the International Monetary Fund, and technical specialists on Wall Street (“quants”). Jerome L. Stein, professor of economics (emeritus) and research professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics at Brown University, has written a timely book that provides a cogent and convincing answer to this question.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: As one of the world's leading experts on China's economic reforms, Nick Lardy has produced two earlier books that have become keys to understanding the challenges China faces in making the transition to a market economy and becoming a full-pledged member of the global liberal economic order. His 1998 volume on China's Unfinished Economic Revolution and his 2002 text on Integrating China into the Global Economy were both published by the Brookings Institution, where he was a senior fellow from 1995 until 2003, at which time he joined the Peterson Institute for International Economics, where he is now Anthony M. Solomon Senior Fellow.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Charles Zakaib
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In 2008, many Americans feared another Great Depression had begun. Amidst all the gloom and doom, however, Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama's incoming chief of staff, sounded more hopeful: “Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before.” There is no greater example of that mantra in American history than World War II, a time of unprecedented government spending and unsurpassed government control over daily life. In Warfare State: World War II Americans and the Age of Big Government , James T. Sparrow demonstrates how, in a crisis, the government can increase its reach into Americans' lives by promising an ever-expanding set of rights and benefits.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: While Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and private subprime lenders have deservedly garnered the bulk of attention and blame for the mortgage crisis, other federal programs also distort our mortgage market and put taxpayers at risk of having to finance massive financial bailouts. The most prominent of these risky agencies is the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Government, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Marcus E. Ethridge
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the wake of the 2010 elections, President Obama declared that voters did not give a mandate to gridlock. His statement reflects over a century of Progressive hostility to the inefficient and slow system of government created by the American Framers. Convinced that the government created by the Constitution frustrates their goals, Progressives have long sought ways around its checks and balances. Perhaps the most important of their methods is delegating power to administrative agencies, an arrangement that greatly transformed U.S. government during and after the New Deal. For generations, Progressives have supported the false premise that administrative action in the hands of experts will realize the public interest more effectively than the constitutional system and its multiple vetoes over policy changes. The political effect of empowering the administrative state has been quite different: it fosters policies that reflect the interests of those with well organized power. A large and growing body of evidence makes it clear that the public interest is most secure when governmental institutions are inefficient decisionmakers. An arrangement that brings diverse interests into a complex, sluggish decisionmaking process is generally unattractive to special interests. Gridlock also neutralizes some political benefits that producer groups and other well-heeled interests inherently enjoy. By fostering gridlock, the U.S. Constitution increases the likelihood that policies will reflect broad, unorganized interests instead of the interests of narrow, organized groups.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics, Power Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Jagadeesh Gokhale
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Unless repeal attempts succeed, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ObamaCare) promises to increase state government obligations on account of Medicaid by expanding Medicaid eligibility and introducing an individual health insurance mandate for all US citizens and legal permanent residents. Once ObamaCare becomes fully effective in 2014, the cost of newly eligible Medicaid enrollees will be almost fully covered by the federal government through 2019, with federal financial support expected to be extended thereafter. But ObamaCare provides states with zero additional federal financial support for new enrollees among those eligible for Medicaid under the old laws. That makes increased state Medicaid costs from higher enrollments by "old-eligibles" virtually certain as they enroll into Medicaid to comply with the mandate to purchase health insurance. This study estimates and compares potential increases in Medicaid costs from ObamaCare for the five most populous states: California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Markets, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, California, Florida
  • Author: David Rittgers
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an umbrella organization that would oversee 22 preexisting federal agencies. The idea was to improve the coordination of the federal government's counterterrorism effort, but the result has been an ever-expanding bureaucracy.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gregory Elacqua, Humberto Santos, Dante Contreras, Felipe Salazar
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: There is a persistent debate over the role of scale of operations in education. Some argue that school franchises offer educational services more effectively than do small independent schools. Skeptics counter that large, centralized operations create hard-to-manage bureaucracies and foster diseconomies of scale and that small schools are more effective at promoting higher-quality education. The answer to this question has profound implications for U.S. education policy, because reliably scaling up the best schools has proven to be a particularly difficult problem. If there are policies that would make it easier to replicate the most effective schools, systemwide educational quality could be improved substantially.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America, Chile
  • Author: Kevin Dowd, Martin Hutchinson, Jimi Hinchliffe, Simon Ashby
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Basel regime is an international system of capital adequacy regulation designed to strengthen banks' financial health and the safety and soundness of the financial system as a whole. It originated with the 1988 Basel Accord, now known as Basel I, and was then overhauled. Basel II had still not been implemented in the United States when the financial crisis struck, and in the wake of the banking system collapse, regulators rushed out Basel III.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The debate over President Obama's fantastically expensive high-speed rail program has obscured the resurgence of a directly competing mode of transportation: intercity buses. Entrepreneurial immigrants from China and recently privatized British transportation companies have developed a new model for intercity bus operations that provides travelers with faster service at dramatically reduced fares.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Infrastructure, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Patric H. Hendershott, Kevin Villani
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The United States' market-government hybrid mortgage system is unique in the world. No other nation has such heavy government intervention in housing finance. This hybrid system nurtured the excessively risky loans, financed with too much leverage, that fueled the U.S. housing bubble of the last decade and resulted in the systemic collapse of the global financial system.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Vance Fried
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Undergraduate education is a highly profitable business for nonprofit colleges and universities. They do not show profits on their books, but instead take their profits in the form of spending on some combination of research, graduate education, low-demand majors, low faculty teaching loads, excess compensation, and featherbedding. The industry's high profits come at the expense of students and taxpayer.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Markets, Privatization, Governance
  • Author: Andrew J. Coulson
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The central problem confronting education systems around the world is not that we lack models of excellence; it is our inability to routinely replicate those models. In other fields, we take for granted an endless cycle of innovation and productivity growth that continually makes products and services better, more affordable, or both. That cycle has not manifested itself in education. Brilliant teachers and high-performing schools can be found in every state and nation, but, like floating candles, they flicker in isolation, failing to touch off a larger blaze.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Markets
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Tax-increment financing (TIF) is an increasingly popular way for cities to promote economic development. TIF works by allowing cities to use the property, sales, and other taxes collected from new developments—taxes that would otherwise go to schools, libraries, fire departments, and other urban services—to subsidize those same developments.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Governance
  • Author: Julian Sanchez
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Congress recently approved a temporary extension of three controversial surveillance provisions of the USA Patriot Act and successor legislation, which had previously been set to expire at the end of February. In the coming weeks, lawmakers have an opportunity to review the sweeping expansion of domestic counter-terror powers since 9/11 and, with the benefit of a decade's perspective, strengthen crucial civil-liberties safeguards without unduly burdening legitimate intelligence gathering. Two of the provisions slated for sunsetroving wiretap authority and the so-called “Section 215” orders for the production of records—should be narrowed to mitigate the risk of overcollection of sensitive information about innocent Americans. A third—authority to employ the broad investigative powers of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act against “lone wolf” suspects who lack ties to any foreign terror group—does not appear to be necessary at all.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Intelligence, National Security, Counterinsurgency, Governance, Law
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Reiss
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The federal government recently placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-chartered, privately owned mortgage finance companies, in conservatorship. These two massive companies are profit driven, but as government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) they also have a government-mandated mission to provide liquidity and stability to the U.S. mortgage market and to achieve certain affordable housing goals. How the two companies should exit their conservatorship has implications that reach throughout the global financial markets and are of key importance to the future of American housing finance policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Privatization, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. government is about to exceed its statutory debt limit of $14.3 trillion. But that actually underestimates the size of the fiscal time bomb that this country is facing. If one considers the unfunded liabilities of programs such as Medicare and Social Security, the true national debt could run as high as $119.5 trillion.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Human Welfare, Financial Crisis, Governance, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Takis Michas
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Political clientelism and rent seeking have been the central organizing principles of Greek society since the foundation of the Greek state in the 19th century. The influence of the Eastern Orthodox Church on Greek nationalism and the legacy of the patrimonialist Ottoman empire produced a weak civil society. The result has been a disproportionately large Greek state and public bureaucracy since the 1800s that set the stage for rent-seeking struggles that have followed.
  • Topic: Corruption, Debt, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jagadeesh Gokhale
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Social Security is often described as a "foundational" element of the nation's social safety net. Almost all Americans are directly affected by the program and many millions primarily depend on its benefits for supporting themselves during retirement. But the program's financial condition has worsened considerably since the last recession, which began in 2007. In that year, the Social Security trustees estimated that the program's trust fund would be exhausted by 2042. The trustees' annual report for 2011 brings the trust fund exhaustion date forward to 2038. Indeed, the programs revenues fell short of its benefit expenditures in 2010 and it appears unlikely that significant surpluses will emerge again under the program's current rules. If the program's finances continue to worsen at this rate, it won't be long before the debate on reforming the program assumes an urgency and intensity similar to that during 1982-83, when imminent insolvency forced lawmakers to implement payroll tax increases and scale back its benefits.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: America, Ethiopia
  • Author: Jared Lobdell
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: An October New York Times story remarked that “with just five weeks until its deadline, a secretive Congressional committee seeking ways to cut the federal deficit is far from a consensus, and party leaders may need to step in if they want to ensure agreement, say people involved in the panel's work.” We have this “supercommittee” of twelve members of Congress, ostensibly for the purpose of cutting a minimum $1.2 trillion from our deficit, chosen by four appointers, none agreeing with any other on exactly what ought to be done, representing mostly diametrically opposing wings of two parties with irreconcilable differences.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Global Recession, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Dwight R. Lee, J.R. Clark
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Adam Smith was a moral philosopher, and economics clearly began as a discipline concerned with both normative and positive considerations. Over time, however, as economics became more “scientific,” positive analysis of the consequences of economic activity increasingly crowded out normative analysis of the morality of that activity. It is now common for economists to boast that economics is “value free.”
  • Author: D. Eric Schansberg
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Although President Obama and the Democratic Congress were able to pass landmark health legislation, their efforts to reform health care ran into predictable political roadblocks. In a severe recession, taxing business and labor is obviously not helpful to economic recovery. Moreover, an array of overreaching sales pitches—claims of additional coverage without additional costs or rationing—piqued the cynicism of the general public. Given historical spending and budget deficits, an expensive new federal program is difficult to swallow. Mandates and restrictions on health insurance can only exacerbate the problem of rapidly rising health care costs (Tanner 2010).
  • Author: Claudio D. Shikida, Ari Francisco de Araujo Jr, Pedro H.C. Sant'Anna
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: There are many studies on the relationship between economic development and institutions. Institutions can be classified as formal or informal. This article emphasizes the importance of the relationship between culture (informal institutions) and the quality of public goods supplied by the government, using a measure of state failure: the Failed States Index. The results suggest that culture is more important than formal institutions in explaining differences in the degree to which states fail.
  • Author: Gustav Ranis
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Andrei Shleifer (2009) and David Skarbek and Peter Leeson (2009) offer devastating critiques of foreign aid. Following Peter Bauer's and, more recently, William Easterly's lead, they assert that if aid has any impact at all it is most likely to do harm. The only exception, offered by Skarbek and Leeson, is that it may do some good at the micro-project level. I would like to raise what is rapidly becoming a contrarian point of view.
  • Author: David B. Skarbek, Peter T. Leeson
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Gustav Ranis addresses our recent article in this journal where we argued that foreign aid is unable to solve the economic problem and thus unable to make poor countries rich (Skarbek and Leeson 2009). The following quotations from his article summarize his main objections to our argument.
  • Author: Robert F. Mulligan
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: William Niskanen (2002) estimated a Phillips curve for the United States using annual 1960–2000 data. By adding one-yearlagged terms in unemployment and inflation, he was able to show that this familiar equation is misspecified. In his improved specification, Niskanen found that the immediate impact of inflation is to reduce unemployment, confirming the traditional understanding of the Phillips-curve relationship, but also finding that after an interval as short as one year inflation has generally been followed by increased unemployment. Though Niskanen was perhaps unaware of it, his results lend strong support to the Austrian model of the business cycle. In that model, credit expansion results in a temporary but unsustainable expansion. Unemployment is lowered in the short run, but once the policy-induced malinvestment is recognized, total output and income will be permanently reduced, and unemployment will increase.
  • Author: Kam Hon Chu
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Many financial systems were plagued by bank runs or subject to the risk of contagion when the recent financial tsunami unfolded. The runs on the U.S. banks Countrywide and IndyMac, Britain's Northern Rock, and Hong Kong's Bank of East Asia, among others, occurred about a few years ago, but they are still vivid to us. These runs were, of course, the symptoms rather than the root cause of the financial tsunami. In response to the most severe systemic global financial crisis since the Great Depression, policymakers and regulators in many countries have implemented various drastic regulatory measures to rescue the financial systems from meltdowns and to avert deep economic downturns. Such measures vary from country to country, but generally speaking they include governments' takeovers of banks or capital injections, quantitative easing techniques, provisions of liquidity by lax lender-of-last-resort lending, lower discount rates, and more generous deposit insurance.
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, Hong Kong
  • Author: Jim F. Couch, Mark D. Foster, Keith Malone, David L. Black
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Washington's remedy to the financial problems that began in 2008 was the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)—the so called bailout of the banking system. Whatever its merits, it was, for the most part, unpopular with the American public. Lawmakers, fearful that the economy might actually collapse without some action, were likewise fearful that action—in the form of a payout to the Wall Street financiers—would prove to be harmful to them at the polls. Thus, politicians sought to assure the public that their vote on the measure would reflect Main Street virtues, not Wall Street greed.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Robert Carbaugh, Thomas Tenerelli
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: From 1775 when Benjamin Franklin was appointed as the first postmaster general of the United States, the agency known as the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has grown to become an institution that delivers about half of the world's mail in rain, snow, and the dark of night. Employing about 656,000 workers and 260,000 vehicles and operating about 38,000 facilities nationwide, the USPS is the second-largest civilian employer in the United States, after WalMart. If the USPS was a private sector company, it would rank 28th in the 2009 Fortune 500 (U.S. Postal Service 2010).
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Kurt Schuler
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff's wide-ranging, quantitative study of financial crises is a landmark work. Reinhart and Rogoff have taken advantage of the advances of the last 20 years in economic history, personal computers, and the Internet to assemble a large data set covering most countries of any importance for the world economy. They are the first researchers to base their generalizations about financial crises on data that combine geographic breadth with great historical depth.
  • Author: Malou Innocent
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the Western mind, Afghanistan conjures up a rugged land of fractious, tribal people. From Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan, to Tamerlane and Mughal emperor Babur, virtually no conqueror has escaped “the graveyard of empires” unscathed. Even modern, industrial empires—the British and the Russian— suffered heavy losses. Why have foreign attempts to conquer Afghanistan proved so ineffective? Why did the U.S. invasion fail to bring stability?
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Ilya Somin
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: As has often been the case in American history, federalism is once again a major focus of political debate. Numerous recent political conflicts focus at least in part on the constitutional balance of power between the states and the central government. The lawsuits challenging the recently passed Obama health care plan, the federal bailout of state governments during the current economic crisis, and the conflicts over social issues such as medical marijuana and assisted suicide are just a few of the more prominent examples.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Bryan Barnett
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It is one of the sad facts of recent human history that the economic prosperity enjoyed by so many remains unknown to most of the rest. The causes of poverty have long been debated and much has been spent in the effort to ameliorate it. Reliable estimates suggest as much as $2.3 trillion has been spent over the last several decades, most of it in the form of sponsored aid programs conceived and pursued by governments and large foundations in developed countries. Despite this investment, however, poverty remains widespread and has worsened in many places, especially in Africa. These basic facts now fuel a vigorous debate over the scale and ultimate value of traditional aid programs and a search for more effective solutions.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Mark A. Zupan
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Free markets have many virtues. Arguably, the most recognized is the expansion of individual choice—and thus freedom—through mutually beneficial exchange (see Bauer's definition of economic development in Dorn 2002: 356). This proposition is at the heart of the enduring impact of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations ([1776] 1937) which aptly spells out the benefits of the Invisible Hand for citizens and societies.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Jerome L. Stein
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The foreign debts of the European countries are at the core of the current crises. Generally, the crises are attributed to government budget deficits in excess of the values stated in the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), as part of the Maastricht treaty. Proposals for reform generally involve increasing the powers of the European Union to monitor fiscal policies of the national governments and increasing bank regulation.
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Paul H. Rubin
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Markets, tort law, and regulation are alternative methods of achieving safety. Of these, the market is the most powerful, but it is often ignored in policy discussions. I show that both for the United States over time and for the world as a whole, higher incomes are associated with lower accidental death rates, and I discuss some examples of markets creating safety. Markets may fail if there are third-party effects or if there are information problems. Classic tort law is a reasonable (although expensive) way to handle third-party effects for strangers, as in the case of auto accidents. In theory, regulation could solve information problems, but in practice many regulations overreach because of different information problems—consumers are unaware of unapproved alternatives. A particularly difficult information problem arises in the case of what I call “ambiguous goods”— goods that reduce some risks but increase others (for example, medical care and malpractice.) Product liability focuses on these goods; over half of the litigation groups of the American Association for Justice are for ambiguous goods.
  • Topic: Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Daniel M. Gropper, Robert A. Lawson, Jere T. Thorne Jr.
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: That liberty is necessary for greater happiness and a better life is a notion deeply rooted in the American sensibility. But is there a link between greater freedom and greater happiness across countries? In this article we explore this question by examining the empirical relationship between liberty, as measured by economic freedom, and happiness across more than 100 countries.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Matthew Carr
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the course of the last 35 years, traditional public school student achievement in the United States has been stagnant, despite myriad reform efforts and a doubling in total expenditures on K–12 education (Ravitch 2000, Hanushek 1986, Greene 2005). The ramifications of this academic achievement plateau on human capital development and thus the country's global economic standing are of paramount importance (Heckman and Masterov 2007). Thus, one of the most important public policy questions that government and society faces is how to improve the academic performance and quality of the nation's public education system.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Dean Stansel
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the last three decades, large cities like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Toledo have seen their populations shrink, while areas like Houston, Atlanta, Dallas, Tampa, and Phoenix have seen their populations grow rapidly. Examining the policy differences between high-growth and low-growth areas can provide evidence that may help declining cities reverse their fortunes.
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: Benny Carlson
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In their book on property rights, Terry Anderson and Fred McChesney (2003: 13) make the following statement: The idea that property rights might themselves be a distinct and explicit area of economic inquiry is relatively recent. In classical economics, well-defined and secure property rights were typically assumed to exist, not analyzed or explained.
  • Author: Carrie B. Kerekes
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Public policy often regards pollution and other measures of poor environmental quality as public bads that result from market failure and require government intervention through regulatory policies and more stringent environmental standards. In this article, I argue that pollution and environmental quality should instead be regarded from a property rights perspective, in which institutions of clearly defined and enforced property rights create incentives that lead to reduced levels of pollution and an overall improvement in environmental quality. Using cross-country data, I examine the relationship between property rights and environmental quality.
  • Author: Joseph Noko
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article investigates the recent monetary experience of Zimbabwe with dollarization. It shows how dollarization has allowed Zimbabwe to quash hyperinflation, restore stability, increase budgetary discipline, and reestablish monetary credibility. Zimbabwe's hyperinflationary past and the stabilization measures taken by the government are outlined, and the consequences defined. Problems arising from a lack of financial integration, an error in the choice of currency to dollarize under, and the inability of the government to enter into a formal dollarization agreement are discussed.
  • Political Geography: Zimbabwe
  • Author: Jerry H. Tempelman
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The role of inflation expectations on the part of economic agents is being increasingly recognized and incorporated into frameworks for the setting of monetary policy (for example, Piger and Rasche 2008, Hetzel 2008). In this article, I describe how expectations are also critical in the implementation of monetary policy. According to the textbook view, the Federal Reserve controls the federal funds rate by varying the supply of reserves available to the banking system. I will argue, however, that fluctuations in the supply of reserves are not the full explanation, thus providing additional support for Taylor (2001), who found that federal funds trade at or around the Federal Open Market Committee's target rate in part because market participants expect that if they don't, the Fed will step in and react.
  • Author: Anthony de Jasay
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Rational choice presupposes that people do what they like better than any available alternative. If, however, we mistrust what they declare to like or what psychology is supposed to tell us about it (a pardonable enough mistrust), we can only infer what they like from observing what they do. We must be content with revealed preference. The theory of choice is locked into the tautology of “they do what they like because they like what they do,” and requiring their preferences to be orderly and consistent is of little practical help. In its elegance, modern choice theory, as represented in neoclassical economics, is too smooth and slippery to be very useful.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Author: Steven Horwitz
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The combination of the recession and financial crisis of the last few years has led to quite the outpouring of books by economists purporting to explain what happened and why, and how to avoid a repeat performance. This very crowded field has seen a range of quality, but a good number of these books have been quite well done. Alchemists of Loss by Great Britain's Kevin Dowd and Martin Hutchinson is another very good treatment of the issues. The authors bring a wealth of experience to their book. Dowd has had a long career as an academic, with much of his work focusing on the history and theory of “free banking” and other forms of financial deregulation. Hutchinson is a longtime financial journalist and has worked in the merchant and investment banking industries in Britain. They have written a comprehensive, fairly detailed, and surprisingly entertaining account of the historical context, theoretical framework, and actual events of the crisis.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Britain
  • Author: Victor Gold
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Nearly every presidential election in my lifetime appeared to be the most critical in the nation's history, with America's very survival hanging in the balance—at least according to the candidates involved. In truth, however, only two campaigns for the White House could be described as historically transformative.
  • Political Geography: Britain
  • Author: Joseph Romance
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In many ways, George Washington represents the most difficult of the Founders to approach. His importance in the American Revolution and the central role he played in the formation of the Republic is beyond dispute. Yet, as so many have pointed out, he becomes more the marble statue than a real man. Thus, it may not be surprising that the most recent spurt of scholarship and popular history concerning the American Founders tends to focus on reinterpretations of the agreed-upon intellectual greats (Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton) and a rediscovery of neglected Founders (Mason, Morris, and Pickney). Alas, what are we to do with Washington beyond revere?
  • Political Geography: America, Washington
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This is a valuable book for anyone who wants to gain an understanding of the key forces that have made China the world's second largest economy and opened the door for millions of people to lift themselves out of poverty. The book is divided into four parts, with the first three devoted to economic analysis of China's peaceful rise and the fourth reflecting on the U.S. economy and its future.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Patrick J. Michaels
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This interesting book is an in-depth guide to workings of the mind of one of history's great environmental scientists, Wallace (Wally) Broecker, of Columbia University. It is strongly recommended for anyone interested in climate change policy. However, it is not an easy read. Despite the somewhat turgid text—and myriad, excruciating, and sometimes unexplained concepts and details—there are several important lessons. The most important of these is that what modern man would think of as dramatic climate change is the rule, not the exception, and we only partially understand, within broad limits, why our climate is so inherently unstable.
  • Topic: Environment
  • Author: John B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In these remarks I discuss a proposal to legislate a rule for monetary policy. The proposal modernizes laws first passed in the late 1970s, but largely discarded in 2000.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy
  • Author: Charles I. Plosser
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It is a pleasure to join you at Cato's 28th Annual Monetary Conference. In preparing today's remarks, I noted that this year's topic of how monetary policy should deal with asset prices was also discussed here in 2008. The speakers at that time expressed a wide variety of views and opinions. The fact that this important question continues to resurface here and at other prominent meetings in recent years suggests that a consensus has yet to emerge.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy
  • Author: Vincent R. Reinhart, Carmen M. Reinhart
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve's conduct of monetary policy casts a spell over market participants, commentators, and academics. The pages of financial newspapers parse subtle differences among the comments of Fed officials and delve deeply into potentially multiple meanings of official statements. Academic discussions argue that the path of the policy rate may (as in Taylor 2009) or may not (as in Bernanke 2010, and Greenspan 2010) have fueled a home-price bubble in the United States.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Harris Dellas, George S. Tavlas
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In this article, we argue that the present constellation of exchange rate arrangements among the major currencies has led to the creation of excessive global liquidity, which has contributed to asset price bubbles. Although the exchange rates of many of the major currencies—including the U.S. dollar, the euro, the yen, and the pound sterling—float against each other, the currencies of many Asian emerging market economies and oil-exporting economies are pegged to the dollar. Dooley, Folkerts-Landau, and Garber (2004a) labeled this system “Bretton Woods II” (BWII). The original Bretton Woods regime (BWI) lasted for about a quarter of a century. Dooley, Folkerts-Landau, and Garber (DFG) argue that the present regime, despite its large global imbalances, will also be sustainable.
  • Topic: Oil
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: President George W. Bush famously remarked in July 2008 that during the housing boom “Wall Street got drunk . . . and now it has a hangover.” It was the Federal Reserve that spiked the punchbowl. The Fed sowed the seeds for the bust of 2007–08 by overexpanding credit, keeping interest rates too low for too long. The Fed made these mistakes despite our having been assured that it had learned from past errors and that the art of central banking had been all but perfected. A commodity standard with free banking, and no central bank to distort the financial system, would have avoided such a boom-and-bust credit cycle.
  • Author: Kevin Dowd, Martin Hutchinson
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In Matthew 25: 14–30, Jesus recounts the Parable of the Talents, the story of how the master goes away and leaves each of three servants with sums of money to look after in his absence. He then returns and holds them to account. The first two have invested wisely and give the master a good return, and he rewards them. The third, however, is a wicked servant who couldn't be bothered even to put the money in the bank where it could earn interest. Instead, he simply buried the money and gave his master a zero return. He is punished and thrown into the darkness where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Manuel Sánchez
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The financial crisis that surfaced in 2007 has stressed the need to identify the ultimate sources of the incentives that were behind the preceding credit and housing bubbles. To lower the likelihood of future financial collapses, prudent economic policies as well as an adequate regulatory and supervisory framework for financial institutions are required. Monetary policy, in turn, should be directed toward price stability, which is a central bank's best contribution not only to long-term economic growth, but also to financial stability.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief, Monetary Policy
  • Author: Peter J. Wallison
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The most important lesson we can learn from the financial crisis is what caused it. Even though the Dodd-Frank Act (DFA) has been signed into law, this is still an important question. If we do not attribute the crisis to the right cause, we could well stumble into another crisis in the future; and if the DFA was directed at the wrong cause, we should consider its repeal. There are several competing narratives. One of them will eventually be accepted, and will determine how the great financial crisis of 2008 is interpreted, and thus how it affects public policy in the future.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: To the extent that monetary policy influences asset prices, it does so via the demand for assets, by changing the borrowing costs to purchase assets, or via supply, where movements in interest rates can make investment in assets look more or less attractive. Fiscal policy interventions can also contribute to bubbles by changing the cost of acquiring specific assets. Most discussions of asset bubbles, particularly those involving the role of monetary policy, focus on demandside factors. This article examines the role of supply-side factors in the recent booms in the U.S. housing market and dot-com stocks. The importance of supply constraints in each market is discussed. Policy implications are then presented.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Charles W. Calomiris
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Will Rogers, commenting on the Depression, famously quipped: “If stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out?” Rogers's rhetorical question has an obvious answer: persistent stupidity fails to recognize prior errors and, therefore, does not correct them. For three decades, many financial economists have been arguing that there are deep flaws in the financial policies of the U.S. government that account for the systemic fragility of our financial system, especially the government's subsidization of risk in housing finance and its ineffective approach to prudential banking regulation. To avoid continuing to make the same mistakes, it would be helpful to reflect on the history of crises and government policy over the past three decades.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Malpass
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the years, there has been a lot to consider in the Federal Reserve's choices of monetary policy and their relationship to bubbles. My conclusion is that mistaken U.S. monetary policy, usually related to the Fed's indifference to the value of the dollar, has repeatedly caused harmful asset bubbles in the United States and abroad. Policy is again at risk with the Fed's imposition of near-zero interest rates and its decision to conduct large-scale asset purchases (termed “quantitative easing”). Regulatory policy has often been ineffective at identifying or addressing asset bubbles, especially those caused by Fed policy. The solution is a parallel track to improve monetary policy so that it provides a more stable dollar and fewer asset bubbles; and to strengthen regulatory policy so that it provides a more reliable base for growth-creating free markets.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jerry L. Jordan
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article addresses some of the recent proposals for the conduct of monetary policies in the post-bubble environment. Advocacy of higher inflation targets is analyzed, and the challenge of maintaining monetary discipline in the face of massive fiscal deficits and mounting government debts is presented. Proposals for reforms of monetary arrangements must be based on consensus regarding the objectives of such reforms. The article concludes with some suggestions for near- and intermediate-term changes to present arrangements, as well as ideas for longer-term reforms.
  • Topic: Government, Reform
  • Political Geography: Canada
  • Author: Leo Melamed
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The story is fairly well known. In 1971, as chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, I had an idea: a futures market in foreign currency. It may sound so obvious today, but at the time the idea was revolutionary. I was acutely aware that futures markets until then were primarily the province of agriculture and—as many claimed—might not be applicable to instruments of finance. Not being an economist, the idea was in need of validation. There was only one person in the world that could satisfy this requisite for me. We went to Milton Friedman. We met for breakfast at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. By then he was already a living legend and I was quite nervous. I asked the great man not to laugh and to tell me whether the idea was “off the wall.” Upon hearing him emphatically respond that the idea was “wonderful,” I had the temerity to ask that he put his answer in writing. He agreed to write a feasibility paper on “The Need for Futures Markets in Currencies,” for the modest stipend of $7,500. It turned out to be a helluva trade.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: New York, Chicago
  • Author: Milton Friedman
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Under the Bretton Woods system, the central banks of the world undertook to keep the exchange rates of their currencies in terms of the dollar within _1 percent of the par value as determined by the official values of gold registered with the International Monetary Fund. In practice, the central banks generally kept the margins even narrower: _1⁄2 of 1 percent or _3⁄4 of 1 percent. So long as they had confidence that these limits would be maintained indefinitely, persons engaged in foreign trade were subject to negligible risk from fluctuations in exchange rates. Even so, large traders with sharp pencils found it desirable to hedge any future transactions by buying foreign currencies forward to meet commitments coming due or selling foreign currencies forward to match scheduled receipts. These forward transactions were handled by the large commercial banks, often with the active participation of foreign central banks in the forward market.
  • Political Geography: London
  • Author: J. Daniel Hammond
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Chicago School economists have come in for criticism since the financial crisis and so-called Great Recession began in 2007. Commentators have blamed recent problems on a laissez-faire faith in the efficacy of markets and simple rules for business-cycle policy—ideas associated with economics as taught and practiced at the University of Chicago. Events over the past four years, we are told, demonstrate the need for a restoration of Keynesian thinking about business cycles and activist government policies to keep markets from failing. However, there is another aspect of Chicago School economics that is commonly overlooked. This is the conviction that economists' understanding of the business cycle is meager in light of the knowledge necessary for activist countercyclical policy to be effective. From this comes the Chicago School concern that economists and policymakers not attempt to do something beyond their capability. Overreaching can make the problems worse.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Chicago
  • Author: Daniel Griswold
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Let me preface this review with a confession: As an advocate of free trade, I love to link the 1930 Smoot-Hawley tariff bill with the Great Depression at every opportunity. More than 80 years after its passage, the bill still evokes negative feelings about protectionism. After reading Douglas Irwin's Peddling Protectionism: Smoot- Hawley and the Great Depression, I can see I need to curb my enthusiasm. Irwin does not defend the bill, far from it. He concludes that it failed to achieve its objectives and that it did, in an incremental way, make the Great Depression worse. But in the careful language of the professional economist and historian that he is, Irwin documents in rich and often colorful detail that the most infamous trade bill in American history had less impact than either its advocates or its opponents understood at the time or understand today. Even so, the story of Smoot-Hawley offers valuable lessons for today as our politicians seek to craft U.S. trade policy in the 21st century. Irwin is superbly qualified to write the definitive history of what was officially the Trade Act of 1930. A professor of economics at Dartmouth College, he has authored Against the Tide: An Intellectual History of Free Trade (1996), and Free Trade under Fire (3rd ed., 2009).
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Richard L. Gordon
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Pennington undertakes a needed effort to provide a systematic, analytic critique of recent efforts to discredit what he terms “classical liberal economics.” His is effectively the standard but hard-to-sell proposition that prescient impartial counselors—Plato's philosopher kings—have failed to emerge from the development of modern knowledge. In particular, Pennington makes good use of Hayek's radical contrast between the competitive testing of concepts in a spontaneous market order and the construction of solutions by government monopolies. As Pennington's conclusions nicely summarize, skepticism of limited government is high and fostered by those who are seeking rents from intervention. Thus, ideas that committed libertarians see as obviously absurd need systematic debunking for a broader audience. Pennington, therefore, pretends that he is treating serious arguments and confronts them respectfully.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jim Harper
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Lisa Nelson's America Identified: Biometric Technology and Society is a slow and careful examination of a formidably broad landscape—at least until she springs to her conclusions. Among them: “Individual liberty must be reconceptualized to account for the use of data by individuals for communication, transactions, and networking.” It's a scholar's way of saying, “Move over, sovereign individual. Experts are going to handle this.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The recent financial crisis was characterized by losses in nearly every type of investment vehicle. Yet no product has attracted as much attention as the subprime mortgage.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Steven Horwitz
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Politicians and pundits portray Herbert Hoover as a defender of laissez faire governance whose dogmatic commitment to small government led him to stand by and do nothing while the economy collapsed in the wake of the stock market crash in 1929. In fact, Hoover had long been a critic of laissez faire. As president, he doubled federal spending in real terms in four years. He also used government to prop up wages, restricted immigration, signed the Smoot-Hawley tariff, raised taxes, and created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation-all interventionist measures and not laissez faire. Unlike many Democrats today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's advisers knew that Hoover had started the New Deal. One of them wrote, "When we all burst into Washington ... we found every essential idea [of the New Deal] enacted in the 100-day Congress in the Hoover administration itself."
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington
  • Author: Jim Harper
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Government transparency is a widely agreed upon goal, but progress on achieving it has been very limited. Transparency promises from political leaders such as President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have not produced a burst of information that informs stronger public oversight of government. One reason for this is the absence of specifically prescribed data practices that will foster transparency.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy, Politics, Communications, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Kirby, David Boaz
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Libertarian—or fiscally conservative, socially liberal—voters are often torn between their aversions to the Republicans' social conservatism and the Democrats' fiscal irresponsibility. Yet libertarians rarely factor into pundits' and pollsters' analyses.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon, Aaron Yelowitz
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In 2006, Massachusetts enacted a sweeping health insurance law that mirrors the legislation currently before Congress. After signing the measure, Gov. Mitt Romney (R) wrote, "Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced." But did the legislation achieve these goals? And what other effects has it had? This paper is the first to use Current Population Survey data for 2008 to evaluate the Massachusetts law, and the first to examine its effects on the accuracy of the CPS's uninsured estimates, self-reported health, the extent of "crowd-out" of private insurance for both children and adults, and in-migration of new Massachusetts residents.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: House and Senate Democrats have produced health care legislation whose mandates, subsidies, tax penalties, and health insurance regulations would penalize work and reward Americans who refuse to purchase health insurance. As a result, the legislation could trap many Americans in low-wage jobs and cause even higher health-insurance premiums, government spending, and taxes than are envisioned in the legislation.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Neal McCluskey
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The argument for national curriculum standards sounds simple: set high standards, make all schools meet them, and watch American students achieve at high levels. It is straightforward and compelling, and it is driving a sea change in American education policy.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Culture
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: John Samples
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. Constitution vests all the “legislative powers” it grants in Congress. The Supreme Court allows Congress to delegate some authority to executive officials provided an “intelligible principle” guides such transfers. Congress quickly wrote and enacted the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 in response to a financial crisis. The law authorized the secretary of the Treasury to spend up to $700 billion purchasing troubled mortgage assets or any financial instrument in order to attain 13 different goals. Most of these goals lacked any concrete meaning, and Congress did not establish any priorities among them. As a result, Congress lost control of the implementation of the law and unconstitutionally delegated its powers to the Treasury secretary. Congress also failed in the case of EESA to meet its constitutional obligations to deliberate, to check the other branches of government, or to be accountable to the American people. The implementation of EESA showed Congress to be largely irrelevant to policymaking by the Treasury secretary. These failures of Congress indicate that the current Supreme Court doctrine validating delegation of legislative powers should be revised to protect the rule of law and separation of powers.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Jagadeesh Gokhale
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Globalization holds tremendous promise to improve human welfare but can also cause conflicts and crises as witnessed during 2007–09. How will competition for resources, employment, and growth shape economic policies among developed nations as they attempt to maintain productivity growth, social protections, and extensive political and cultural freedoms?
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Adam B. Schaeffer
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Although public schools are usually the biggest item in state and local budgets, spending figures provided by public school officials and reported in the media often leave out major costs of education and thus understate what is actually spent.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Government, Monetary Policy
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the past four decades, American cities have spent close to $100 billion constructing rail transit systems, and many billions more operating those systems. The agencies that spend taxpayer dollars building these lines almost invariably call them successful even when they go an average of 40 percent over budget and, in many cases, carry an insignificant number of riders. The people who rarely or never ride these lines but still have to pay for them should ask, “How do you define success?"
  • Topic: Government, Markets, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Craig Pirrong
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the aftermath of the financial crisis, attention has turned to reducing systemic risk in the derivatives markets. Much of this attention has focused on counterparty risk in the over-the counter market, where trades are bilaterally executed between dealers and derivative purchasers. One proposal for addressing such counterparty risk is to mandate the trading of derivatives over a centralized clearinghouse. This paper lays out the advantages and risks to a mandated clearing requirement, showing how, in some instances, such a mandate can actually increase systemic risk and result in more financial bailouts.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Author: John Samples
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The United States Supreme Court decided in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that Congress may not prohibit spending on political speech by corporations. President Obama and several members of Congress have sharply criticized Citizens United, and Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen have proposed the DISCLOSE Act in response to the ruling. DISCLOSE mandates disclosure of corporate sources of independent spending on speech, putatively in the interest of shareholders and voters. However, it is unlikely that either shareholders or voters would be made better off by this legislation. Shareholders could demand and receive such disclosure without government mandates, given the efficiency of capital markets. The benefits of such disclosure for voters are likely less than assumed, while the costs are paid in chilled speech and in less rational public deliberation. DISCLOSE also prohibits speech by government contractors, TARP recipients, and companies managed by foreign nationals. The case for prohibiting speech by each of these groups seems flawed. In general, DISCLOSE exploits loopholes in Citizens United limits on government control of speech to contravene the spirit of that decision and the letter of the First Amendment.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Benjamin H. Friedman, Christopher Preble
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The United States needs a defense budget worthy of its name, one that protects Americans rather than wasting vast sums embroiling us in controversies remote from our interests. This paper outlines such a defense strategy and the substantial cuts in military spending that it allows. That strategy discourages the occupation of failing states and indefinite commitments to defend healthy ones. With fewer missions, the military can shrink its force structure—reducing personnel, the weapons and vehicles procured for them, and operational costs. The resulting force would be more elite, less strained, and far less expensive. By avoiding needless military conflict and protecting our prosperity, these changes would make Americans more secure.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Debt
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Stephen J. Schulhofer, David Friedman
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Criminal defense systems are in a state of perpetual crisis, routinely described as “scandalous.” Public defender offices around the country face crushing caseloads that necessarily compromise the quality of the legal representation they provide. The inadequacy of existing methods for serving the indigent is widely acknowledged, and President Obama has recently taken steps to give the problem a higher priority on the national agenda.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Markets, Law, Prisons/Penal Systems
  • Author: Christopher J. Conover
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: A well-established principle of public finance holds that taxes impose costs on society beyond the amount of revenue government collects. Estimates vary depending on the type of tax, but the “marginal excess burden” of federal taxes most likely ranges from 14 to 52 cents per dollar of tax revenue, averaging about 44 cents for all federal taxes.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Chris Edwards
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: State governments have had to make tough budget choices in recent years. Tax revenues have stagnated as a result of the poor economy, and that has prompted governors to take a variety of fiscal actions to close large budget gaps. Some governors have cut spending to balance their budgets, while others have pursued large tax increases.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This paper discusses the medical malpractice "crisis" and the potential of contract liability to reduce overall malpractice costs as well as improve the quality of and access to care. First, the paper describes the current medical malpractice liability "system" and some of the more common reforms offered. It then discusses the economic rationale of allowing patients and providers to agree in advance of treatment on how the patient will be compensated in the event of simple negligence on the part of providers, explaining how contract liability may offer improvements in the areas of costs, patient preferences, the pursuit of more efficient liability rules, and quality of care. The paper then critiques select objections to contract liability – those based on the superior bargaining power of providers, the lack of information available to patients, and possible reductions in quality – and forwards possible limitations on the right to contract that may allay such concerns.
  • Topic: Health, Law, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: George A. Selgin, Lawrence H. White, William D. Lastrapes
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: As the one-hundredth anniversary of the 1913 Federal Reserve Act approaches, we assess whether the nation's experiment with the Federal Reserve has been a success or a failure. Drawing on a wide range of recent empirical research, we find the following: (1) The Fed's full history (1914 to present) has been characterized by more rather than fewer symptoms of monetary and macroeconomic instability than the decades leading to the Fed's establishment. (2) While the Fed's performance has undoubtedly improved since World War II, even its postwar performance has not clearly surpassed that of its undoubtedly flawed predecessor, the National Banking system, before World War I. (3) Some proposed alternative arrangements might plausibly do better than the Fed as presently constituted. We conclude that the need for a systematic exploration of alternatives to the established monetary system is as pressing today as it was a century ago.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Andrew J. Coulson
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: School voucher and education tax credit programs have proliferated in the United States over the past two decades. Advocates have argued that they will enable families to become active consumers in a free and competitive education marketplace, but some fear that these programs may in fact bring with them a heavy regulatory burden that could stifle market forces. Until now, there has been no systematic, empirical investigation of that concern. The present paper aims to shed light on the issue by quantifying the regulations imposed on private schools both within and outside school choice programs, and then analyzing them with descriptive statistics and regression analyses. The results are tested for robustness to alternative ways of quantifying private school regulation, and to alternative regression models, and the question of causality is addressed. The study concludes that vouchers, but not tax credits, impose a substantial and statistically significant additional regulatory burden on participating private schools.
  • Topic: Education, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This special issue of the Cato Journal was made possible by a generous grant from the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation . The question posed in this issue—Are Unions Good for America?—has both normative and positive aspects. Normatively, if one takes freedom as a fundamental principle, then compulsory unionism cannot be justified in a free society; it violates the rights of both workers and employers. Under current U.S. labor law, workers are often compelled to join unions and employers are compelled to negotiate “in good faith.” Public sector unions are even more onerous than private sector unions; they limit consumer choices and impose heavy tax burdens.
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Randall G. Holcombe, James D. Gwartney
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The freedom to enter into contracts and to direct the use of economic resources one owns are essential to the operation of a market economy. Allowing employees to form unions to bargain collectively over wages and employment conditions is consistent with economic freedom, and any government intervention preventing unionization would be a violation of economic freedom. Nevertheless, American labor law, especially since the 1930s, has altered the terms and conditions under which unions collectively bargain to heavily favor unions over the firms that hire union labor. Labor law has given unions the power to dictate to employees collective bargaining conditions, and has deprived employees of the right to bargain for themselves regarding their conditions of employment. While unions and economic freedom are conceptually compatible, labor law in the United States, and throughout the world, has restricted the freedom of contract between employees and employers.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Armand Thieblot
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Under the Obama administration, the influence and involvement of trade unions in government policy decisions has surged to unprecedented levels. Some of the more egregious examples include the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, which abolishes the secret ballot among workers deciding on union representation and imposes forced interest arbitration of contract disputes; the selective protection of union healthcare benefits from proposed “reform” legislation; the awarding of assets seized from major automotive companies to the United Automobile Workers; and the involvement of union personnel, especially members of the Service Employees International Union, in electioneering efforts and counter-demonstrations on behalf of the Democratic party. That all of this has occurred within less than a year is especially troublesome. What makes it more so is the well-established pattern, on the part of unions, to disregard and disrespect the rule of law.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: David G. Tuerck
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Project labor agreements (PLAs) are agreements between owners of construction projects and construction unions, under which firms retained to work on a construction project must enter into collective bargaining with the unions, hire workers through union hiring halls, and pay union wages and benefits. Contractors must operate, in effect, as union contractors, whether they ordinarily use union labor or not. Workers must usually pay union dues whether they belong to a union or not.
  • Topic: Labor Issues
  • Author: Paul Moreno
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The claim that organized labor has been a force for racial egalitarianism can only be called a myth. It is one of the many myths that pro-union historians have perpetuated—similar to those, for example, that unorganized workers suffered from an “inequality of bar- gaining power” (Reynolds 1991), that strikes are conflicts between employers and employees rather than between different groups of employees, or that violence was more often employed against than by unions (Thieblot and Haggard 1983). Perhaps the greatest myth of all is that organized labor is good for workers generally. In fact, unions transfer income from the unorganized to the organized, and depress total income to such a degree that even organized workers are poorer (Vedder and Gallaway 2002).
  • Author: Chris Edwards
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Public sector compensation is becoming a high-profile policy issue. While private sector wages and benefits have stagnated during the recession, many governments continue to increase compensation for public sector workers. At the same time, there are growing concerns about huge underfunding in public sector retirement plans across the nation.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Stephen J. K. Walters
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The usual suspects in the tragic demise of many of America's core cities are well known. For decades, scholars, politicians, and pundits have condemned the racism that led whites to flee diverse urban populations after World War II, sneered at Americans' vulgar affection for cars and expansive lawns, criticized policies that encouraged us to indulge these tastes, and blamed capitalist greed and unwhole- some technological change for the deindustrialization that has wrecked urban labor markets.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: George C. Leef
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The public policy of the United States is broadly in favor of competition. Our antitrust laws are premised on the idea that in the absence of such legislation private interests would seek to create monopolies, fix prices, restrain trade, and stifle competition. Moreover, the federal government, as well as the states and municipalities, has laws mandating competitive bidding on government contracts to guard the public against "sweetheart deals" that squander tax dollars. Open competition, in fact, is usually the undoing of those conspiracies against the public that Adam Smith saw as so prevalent.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Andrew J. Coulson
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Public school employee unions are politically partisan and polarizing institutions. Of the National Education Association's $30 million in federal campaign contributions since 1990, 93 percent has gone to Democrats or the Democratic Party. Of the $26 million in federal campaign contributions by the American Federation of Teachers, 99 percent has gone to Democrats or the Democratic Party (Center for Responsive Politics 2009). Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, conservatives and Republicans have often accused these unions of simultaneously raising the cost and lowering the quality of American public schools. Many advocates of charter schools, vouchers, and education tax credits have cited union political influence as the greatest impediment to their chosen reforms. But in academic circles, scholars have sometimes disagreed on the unions' impact on wages and educational productivity. The purpose of the present review is to summarize, and attempt to reconcile, the empirical research on the actual impact teachers unions have on American education.
  • Topic: Education, Reform
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Richard Vedder
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The most essential ingredient embodied in the liberty championed by the classical liberal writers of the Enlightenment and beyond is individual choice and right of expression—the right of persons to say what they think, decide for themselves what groups that want to join, what religion that want to profess, what person they want to marry, what goods they want to buy or sell, and what persons they want to represent them where necessity requires collective decision making. One important economic dimension of individual liberty is the right to sell one's labor services without attenuation—that is, without limits on the terms of the agreement (e.g., wage rates and hours of work), or who will represent the worker in reaching those terms.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Daniel Griswold
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the past three decades, labor union leaders have emerged as among the chief critics of trade liberalization, while the economic evidence has grown that labor unions compromise the ability of American companies to compete in global markets.
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Lowell E. Gallaway
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the more than 200 years in which formal organizations of workers (labor unions) have existed in the United States, there have been three distinct eras of policy toward them. Initially, in the late 18th and early 19th century, they were regarded as associations that came under the purview of the English common-law doctrine of conspiracy— that is, their very existence could be considered illegal, regardless of the objectives of the group.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Charles W. Baird
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: F. A. Hayek and W. H. Hutt wrote extensively about the malign economic and social effects of the special privileges and immunities granted by governments to labor unions, but they wrote much less about what a free-market unionism might look like. They argued that all legislation that has conferred coercive powers on unions should be repealed, but they did not propose any specific free-market union legislation to take its place. Perhaps they thought that if all offending legislation were repealed there would be no need for any union-specific legislation. The common law of property, contract, and tort would suffice. Nevertheless, it is difficult in American politics to replace something with nothing. Therefore, I think it is useful, albeit constructivist, to propose a free-market alternative to the Norris- LaGuardia Act of 1932 (NLA) and the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 as amended in 1947 (NLRA). Perhaps the chief value of such a proposal is to make explicit what the ordinary law of property, contract and tort implies for the labor market and the role of unions therein. New Zealand's 1991 Employment Contracts Act (ECA) is a good, but imperfect, guide in this endeavor.
  • Topic: Law
  • Political Geography: America, New Zealand