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  • 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: Julio Garin, Robert Lester, Eric Sims
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This paper evaluates the welfare properties of nominal GDP targeting in the context of a New Keynesian model with both price and wage rigidity. In particular, we compare nominal GDP targeting to inflation and output gap targeting as well as to a conventional Taylor rule. These comparisons are made on the basis of welfare losses relative to a hypothetical equilibrium with flexible prices and wages. Output gap targeting is the most desirable of the rules under consideration, but nominal GDP targeting performs almost as well. Nominal GDP targeting is associated with smaller welfare losses than a Taylor rule and significantly outperforms inflation targeting. Relative to inflation targeting and a Taylor rule, nominal GDP targeting performs best conditional on supply shocks and when wages are sticky relative to prices. Nominal GDP targeting may outperform output gap targeting if the gap is observed with noise, and has more desirable properties related to equilibrium determinacy than does gap targeting.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, Markets, GDP
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Joshua R. Hendrickson, David Beckworth
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the last few years, the Federal Reserve has conducted a series of large scale asset purchases. Given the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate, the objective of this policy has been to generate an increase in real economic activity while maintaining a low, stable rate of inflation. The effectiveness of large scale asset purchases and the ability of the central bank to achieve a particular target has been subject to debate. The monetary transmission mechanism is of primary importance for understanding the effects of both the recent large scale asset purchases and of monetary policy more generally. The purpose of this paper is to propose a monetary transmission mechanism and to present empirical support for this mechanism. In particular, this paper suggests that monetary policy is transmitted through changes in the growth rate of transaction assets through both a direct and indirect effect. First, an increase in the growth rate of the monetary base, whether through lump sum transfers or open market operations, generates a real balance effect that increases real economic activity. Second, the indirect effect is through bank lending. Since bank loans are often a function of nominal income, expansionary monetary policy increases bank lending. Since economics agents are forward-looking and the the effects of monetary policy are persistent, monetary policy is transmitted through the expected future time path of the growth of transaction assets and nominal income. This characteristic is especially important in light of the policy recommendations of Sumner (2011, 2012) and Woodford (2012), in which the central bank attaches an explicit target for the level of nominal income to large-scale asset purchases.1
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Federal Reserve
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Therese M. Vaughan, Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: International activity related to the regulation and supervision of financial services has exploded since the global financial crisis. The crisis exposed weaknesses in the structure for regulating internationally active banks, and motivated a number of work streams aimed at strengthening standards (most notably, significant revisions to the Basel capital standard for internationally active banks, now known as Basel III). The insurance sector was also stressed by the meltdown in financial markets that occurred in 2007-2008, albeit far less than the banking sector, and, with the exception of AIG, it is generally recognized that insurers played little role in the financial crisis, and that traditional insurance activities do not pose a systemic risk to the financial system.1,2 Nonetheless, the insurance sector has also been targeted for a new stream of regulatory initiatives at the international level. The most important organizations with respect to these activities are the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) and the Financial Stability Board (FSB), both based in Basel, Switzerland. The purpose of this paper is to review these developments and to highlight potential concerns for U.S. insurance markets.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Leighton Ku, Brian Bruen
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Claims are sometimes made that immigrants use public benefits, such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs, more often than those who are born in the United States. This report provides analyses, using the most recent data from the Census Bureau, that counter these claims. In reality, low-income non-citizen immigrants, including adults and children, are generally less likely to receive public benefits than those who are native-born. Moreover, when non-citizen immigrants receive benefits, the value of benefits they receive is usually lower than the value of benefits received by those born in the United States. The combination of lower average utilization and smaller average benefits indicates that the overall cost of public benefits is substantially less for low-income non-citizen immigrants than for comparable native-born adults and children. The report also explains that the lower use of public benefits by non-citizen immigrants is not surprising, since federal rules restrict immigrants' eligibility for these public benefit programs.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Humanitarian Aid, Markets, Immigration
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: William F. Shughart II, Diana W. Thomas
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: During his presidential campaign, Sen. Barack Obama criticized sharply the lax anti-trust law enforcement record of the George W. Bush administration. Subsequently, his first assistant attorney general for antitrust even went so far as to suggest that the Great Recession was, at least in part, caused by federal antitrust policy failures during the previous eight years. This paper sets out to investigate how and in what ways antitrust enforcement has changed since President Obama took office in 2009. We review four recent antitrust cases and the behavioral remedies that were imposed on the defendants in those matters in detail. We find that the Obama administration has been significantly more active in enforcing the antitrust laws with respect to proposed mergers than his two predecessors in the White House had been. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission, together with the Department of Justice, withdrew a thoughtful report on the enforcement of Section 2 of the Sherman Act and issued new merger guidelines and a new merger policy remedy guide, all of which have moved antitrust law enforcement away from traditional structural remedies in favor of very intrusive behavioral remedies in an unprecedented fashion. That policy shift has further transformed antitrust law enforcers into regulatory agencies, a mission for which they are not well-suited, resulting in the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission being more vulnerable to rent seeking.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Governance, Law Enforcement
  • Author: Brink Lindsey
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For over a century, the trend line for the long-term growth of the U.S. economy has held remarkably steady. Notwithstanding huge changes over time in economic, social, and political conditions, growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has fluctuated fairly closely around an average annual rate of approximately 2 percent. Looking ahead, however, there are strong reasons for doubting that this historic norm can be maintained.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Opponents of allowing younger workers to privately invest a portion of their Social Security taxes through personal accounts have long pointed to the supposed riskiness of private investment. The volatility of private capital markets over the past several years, and especially recent declines in the stock market, have seemed to bolster their argument.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Thomas L. Hogan
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Privately issued money can benefit consumers in many ways, particularly in the areas of value stability and product variety. Decentralized currency production can benefit consumers by reducing inflation and increasing economic stability. Unlike a central bank, competing private banks must attract customers by providing innovative products, restricting the quantity of notes issued, and limiting the riskiness of their investing activities. Although the Federal Reserve currently has a de facto monopoly on the provision of currency in the United States, this was not always the case. Throughout most of U.S. history, private banks issued their own banknotes as currency. This practice continues today in a few countries and could be reinstituted in the United States with minimal changes to the banking system.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Morris A. Davis
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For decades U.S. housing policy has focused on promoting homeownership. In this study, I show that the set of policies designed to further homeownership has been ineffective and expensive and that homeownership as a public policy goal is not well supported.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Urbanization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Patric H. Hendershott, Kevin Villani
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The current narrative regarding the 2008 systemic financial system collapse is that numerous seemingly unrelated events occurred in unregulated or underregulated markets, requiring widespread bailouts of actors across the financial spectrum, from mortgage borrowers to investors in money market funds. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, created by the U.S. Congress to investigate the causes of the crisis, promotes this politically convenient narrative, and the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act operationalizes it by completing the progressive extension of federal protection and regulation of banking and finance that began in the 1930s so that it now covers virtually all financial activities, including hedge funds and proprietary trading. The Dodd-Frank Act further charges the newly created Financial Stability Oversight Council, made up of politicians, bureaucrats, and university professors, with preventing a subsequent systemic crisis.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria, Emily McClintock Ekins
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: During the financial crisis of 2008, the financial markets would have been better served if the credit rating agency industry had been more competitive. We present evidence that suggests the Securities and Exchange Commission's designation of Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations (NRSROs) inadvertently created a de facto oligopoly, which primarily propped up three firms: Moody's, S, and Fitch. We also explain the rationale behind the NRSRO designation given to credit rating agencies (CRAs) and demonstrate that it was not intended to be an oligopolistic mechanism or to reduce investor due diligence, but rather was intended to protect consumers. Although CRAs were indirectly constrained by their reputation among investors, the lack of competition allowed for greater market complacency. Government regulatory use of credit ratings inflated the market demand for NRSRO ratings, despite the decreasing informational value of credit ratings. It is unlikely that this sort of regulatory framework could result in anything except misaligned incentives among economic actors and distorted market information that provides inaccurate signals to investors and other financial actors. Given the importance of our capital infrastructure and the power of credit rating agencies in our financial markets, and despite the good intentions of the uses of the NRSRO designation, it is not worth the cost and should be abolished. Regulators should work to eliminate regulatory reliance on credit ratings for financial safety and soundness. These regulatory reforms will, in turn, reduce CRA oligopolistic power and the artificial demand for their ratings.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Tad DeHaven
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Rising federal spending and huge deficits are pushing the nation toward a financial and economic crisis. Policymakers should find and eliminate wasteful, damaging, and unneeded programs in the federal budget. One good way to save money would be to cut subsidies to businesses. Corporate welfare in the federal budget costs taxpayers almost $100 billion a year.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Steve H. Hanke, Nicholas Krus
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This chapter supplies, for the first time, a table that contains all 56 episodes of hyperinflation, including several which had previously gone unreported. The Hyperinflation Table is compiled in a systematic and uniform way. Most importantly, it meets the replicability test. It utilizes clean and consistent inflation metrics, indicates the start and end dates of each episode, identifies the month of peak hyperinflation, and signifies the currency that was in circulation, as well as the method used to calculate inflation rates.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Jagadeesh Gokhale
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Official federal budget accounts are constructed exclusively in terms of current cash flows – receipts from taxes and fees and outlays on purchases and transfers. But cash-flows do not reveal economically relevant information about who benefits and who loses from government policies. Cash flows also do not reveal how changes in government's policies redistribute resources within and across generations, including reducing the tax burden on today's generations and increasing it on future ones. Because most government transact ions are targeted by age and gender, the federal government can bring about large resource transfers across generations. Intergenerational resource transfers will grow larger as the composition of budget receipts and expenditures changes with relatively faster growth of age-and-gender-related social insurance program. Intergenerational redistributions across generations through federal government operations could substantially affect different generations' economic expectations and choices and exert powerful long-term effects on economic outcomes.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Health, Human Welfare, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr.
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Advocates of central bank reform must examine why central banks emerged and what forces sustain them. They did not arise in an institutional vacuum, and will not be reformed in an institutional vacuum. The historical origins of central banks explain how they came into existence. The forces sustaining and feeding their growth may differ from those explaining their origin.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Alan Reynolds
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This paper confirms recent studies which find little or no sustained increase in the inequality of disposable income for the U.S. population as a whole over the past 20 years, even though estimates of the top 1 percent's share of pretax, pretransfer (market) income spiked upward in 1986-88, 1997-2000 and 2003-2007.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: James M. Buchanan
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The market will not work effectively with monetary anarchy. Politicization is not an effective alternative. We must commence meaningful dialogue with acceptance of these elementary verities. Far too much has been said and written in elaboration of the first statement, which too often is taken to be equivalent to the assertion that "capitalism" or "the market" has failed. Admittedly claims for market efficacy without qualifiers can be found. But economists should know that anarchy can only generate disorder rather than its opposite.
  • Topic: Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Eswar Prasad
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In early 2009, the world economy seemed to be headed into an irreversible decline. But a strong dose of stimulative monetary and fiscal policies—perhaps with an assist from the natural resilience of the market economy—seem to have done the trick in stabilizing the financial system and setting the stage for global recovery. Flows of private capital to emerging markets have revived and world trade has begun to rise back to levels seen before the crisis hit. Consumer and business confidence are back on the rise.
  • Topic: Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Author: Laurence Copeland
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In response to the recent financial crisis, many governments chose to ban or restrict short sales, hoping to mitigate the impact of the stock market downturn. Stock markets function as a continuous election, held to determine the allocation of resources with buyers voting for and sellers voting against investment in particular stocks. Banning short selling is akin to disenfranchising the "no" voter, thereby creating a distortion in the resource allocation process. Ban-induced price distortions damage the integrity of stock prices among investors and potentially cause stocks to expand beyond what is optimal for the firms and the economy.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Washington
  • 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: 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: Ted Galen Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: While U.S. leaders have focused on actual or illusory security threats in distant regions, there is a troubling security problem brewing much closer to home. Violence in Mexico, mostly related to the trade in illegal drugs, has risen sharply in recent years and shows signs of becoming even worse. That violence involves turf fights among the various drug-trafficking organizations as they seek to control access to the lucrative U.S. market. To an increasing extent, the violence also entails fighting between drug traffickers and Mexican military and police forces.
  • Topic: Security, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Mexico
  • Author: Jeffrey A. Miron
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: At the end of September 2007, the U.S. economy had experienced 24 consecutive quarters of positive GDP growth, at an average annual rate of 2.73 percent. The S 500 Index stood at roughly 1,500, having rebounded over 600 points from its low point in 2003. Unemployment was below 5 percent, and inflation was low and stable.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Anna J. Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: I begin by describing the factors that contributed to the financial market crisis of 2008. I end by proposing policies that could have prevented the baleful effects that produced the crisis.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Allan H. Meltzer
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: I am going to make several unrelated points, and then I am going to discuss how we got into this financial crisis and some needed changes to reduce the risk of future crises.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Donald L. Kohn
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: We are in the midst of a global financial crisis that is now weighing heavily on economies around the world. Although the outlook remains extremely uncertain, both the fragility of the financial system and the weakness in real activity seem likely to persist for a while. To promote maximum sustainable economic growth and price stability, the Federal Reserve has responded to this crisis by easing monetary policy markedly, and we have greatly expanded our liquidity facilities to keep credit flowing when private lenders have become reluctant or unable to do so. Other central banks have also cut policy rates significantly and expanded their lending. In addition, the federal government and governments around the world have taken extraordinary actions to strengthen financial systems to preserve the ability of households and businesses to borrow and spend.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Otmar Issing
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Beyond dealing with the immediate problems, any crisis raises questions of why and how we got there and what lessons should be drawn to avoid a repetition of past developments—without laying the ground for a new disaster. This line of inquiry also applies to the current crisis in financial markets. Even during the heaviest turbulence a discussion has started on obvious deficits in the system of regulation and supervision and on badly needed improvements. In this article, I concentrate on monetary policy but that does not mean regulatory measures are irrelevant in this context, quite the opposite.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jeffrey M. Lacker
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The current financial crisis undoubtedly will inspire a great deal of research in the years ahead, and it may take some time before anything like a professional consensus emerges on causes and consequences. After all, it took several decades to document the causes of the Great Depression, and recent research continues to provide new perspectives. Nonetheless, I believe the central questions that are likely to occupy researchers are plainly in view, and some tentative lessons have emerged already. And in any event, legislators are not likely to await the fruits of future scholarship.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Charles W. Calomiris
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Financial innovations often respond to regulation by sidestepping regulatory restrictions that would otherwise limit activities in which people wish to engage. Securitization of loans (e.g., credit card receivables, or subprime residential mortgages) is often portrayed, correctly, as having arisen in part as a means of “arbitraging” regulatory capital requirements by booking assets off the balance sheets of regulated banks. Originators of the loans were able to maintain lower equity capital against those loans than they otherwise would have needed to maintain if the loans had been placed on their balance sheet.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Bert Ely
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The current global financial crisis is the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, with no end in sight. Already, much political finger pointing has occurred, with most of those fingers pointed at supposedly greedy bankers, investors, and hedge-fund managers as well as the financial deregulation of recent decades. Governments everywhere are rushing to enact new regulatory protections to pre- vent another crisis of this magnitude. Yet if history is any guide, these new regulations will set up the global economy for yet another financial crisis, perhaps worse than the present one, or create regulatory straitjackets that will greatly impede economic growth.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lawrence H. White
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. housing bubble and the fallout from its bursting are not the results of a laissez-faire monetary and financial system. They happened in an unanchored government fiat monetary system with a restricted financial system.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Wolfgang Münchau
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Should we worry about moral hazard while the house is burning? The discussion about economic policy is full of biblical metaphors, the language of water and floods, and of fire extinction during crises. Metaphors, even when not mixed, are often obstacles to the clarity of thought. That is clearly the case with the metaphor of moral hazard in trying to understand the current financial crisis. Instead of focusing on moral hazard, I prefer to use the concept of policy sustainability to argue that sustainable monetary, fiscal, and regulatory policies are essential for lasting prosperity.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Andrew A. Samwick
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Cato Institute is the ideal place to draw lessons from the sub- prime crisis. The organization's mission focuses on the interaction of public policies with free markets and limited government. Even the most ardent believer in free markets must fully understand that individual liberty implies neither the nonexistence nor the indifference of government to economic affairs. Individuals live in freedom and peace when public policies are crafted in accordance with well-established rules and implemented with an eye toward effectiveness, not expansion. In the halls of government, we need sobriety and vigilance rather than apathy or empire building.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Kevin Dowd
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: There is no denying that the current financial crisis has delivered a major seismic shock to the policy landscape. In country after country, we see governments panicked into knee-jerk responses and throwing their policy manuals overboard: bailouts and nationalizations on an unprecedented scale, fiscal prudence thrown to the winds, and the return of no-holds-barred Keynesianism. Lurid stories of the excesses of “free” competition—of greedy bankers walking away with hundreds of millions whilst taxpayers bail their institutions out, of competitive pressure to pay stratospheric bonuses and the like—are grist to the mill of those who tell us that “free markets have failed” and that what we need now is bigger government. To quote just one writer out of many others saying much the same, “the pendulum will swing—and should swing—towards an enhanced role for government in saving the market system from its excesses and inadequacies” (Summers 2008). Free markets have been tried and failed, so the argument goes, now we need more regulation and more active macroeconomic management.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr.
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: We remain in an economic crisis and financial crisis, one that Gary Gorton has named “The Panic of 2007” (Gorton 2008). The thesis of this article is that monetary policy has played a pivotal role. Under Alan Greenspan and now Ben Bernanke, the Fed has conducted monetary policy so as to foster moral hazard among investors, notably in housing (O'Driscoll 2008a). More generally, the crisis is the product of a “perfect storm” of misguided policy. Policies to encourage affordable housing fostered the growth of subprime lending and complex financial products to finance that lending. Regardless of the desirability of the social goal, the financial super- structure depended on housing prices never falling. Housing prices do fall sometimes, and did so decisively beginning in 2007 (Gorton 2008: 50).
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, New Zealand
  • Author: Roger W. Garrison
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the era that has come to be known as the “Great Moderation” (dating from the mid-1980s), the Federal Reserve's policy committee (the Federal Open Market Committee or FOMC) pursued what has to be called a “learning-by-doing” strategy. The data that counted as relevant feedback—the unemployment rate and the inflation rate—seemed all along to be suggesting that the Fed was doing the right things. Even when the Fed lowered the Fed funds target to 1 per- cent in June 2003 and held it there for nearly a year, the economy appeared to be on an even keel and U.S. interest rates were in line with those in other countries. The historically low interest rates were attributed not to excessive monetary ease in the United States but to a worldwide increase in savings.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: William Poole
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Most of the world today is concentrating not on the way forward after the crisis, but the way out of the crisis. This concentration brings the very real danger that steps taken now will cause problems later. The most obvious danger, perhaps, is that enormous government spending, here and abroad, will increase outstanding debt to a degree that will increase temptation to attempt to finance government budget deficits through inflation. Moral hazard is the less obvious, but perhaps more serious, problem we will face.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Christopher J. Coyne
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Christopher Coyne's book seeks to contribute to an understanding of the “precise mechanisms and contexts that contribute to or prevent” successful efforts to “export liberal democracy” by means of “military occupation and reconstruction” (p. 7). Even if this were the only accomplishment of this fine book, it would represent one of the most important contributions to the field of political economy in recent decades. However, Coyne does more. He draws from economics to produce a full-fledged framework for analyzing the economic, political, and social effects of all reconstruction efforts. He also questions the long-standing view that reconstruction requires, or even benefits from, a suspension of the principles of liberty, free association, and free market.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Robert L. Bradley Jr.
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Robert L. Bradley Jr., for many years had to balance loyalty to his employer, Enron, with his belief in Austrian economics. With the collapse of Enron came the opportunity to resolve the conflict in favor of Austrian economics. Bradley chose to undertake the slow development that would produce a definitive study rather than an instant bestseller. He ultimately decided to produce a three-volume treatment. The first of these, the book under review here, deals with two overriding conceptual issues relevant to the Enron collapse and their implications to Enron and earlier debacles. The first is what is the essence of free-market economics and whether the Enron experience undermines the case for free markets. The other is the invalidity of resource pessimism. Later volumes will deal with similar problems such as the Insull holding-company collapse in the Great Depression and then a concluding volume on Enron itself.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Tony Leon
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: On the Contrary is a seamless combination of a memoir of an influential South African politician and a well-researched modern history of his country. The author was the leader of the liberal Democratic Alliance, the leader of the opposition in Parliament.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States, South Africa
  • Author: John H. Cochrane
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: None of us has health insurance, really. If you develop a long-term condition such as heart disease or cancer, and if you then lose your job or are divorced, you can lose your health insurance. You now have a preexisting condition, and insurance will be enormously expensive—if it's available at all. Free markets can solve this problem, and provide life-long, portable health security, while enhancing consumer choice and competition. “Heath-status insurance” is the key. If you are diagnosed with a long-term, expensive condition, a health-status insurance policy will give you the resources to pay higher medical insurance premiums. Health-status insurance covers the risk of premium reclassification, just as medical insurance covers the risk of medical expenses. With health-status insurance, you can always obtain medical insurance, no matter how sick you get, with no change in out-of-pocket costs.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jagadeesh Gokhale
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This Policy Analysis explains the antecedents of the current global financial crisis and critically examines the reasoning behind the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve's actions to prop up the financial sector. It argues that recovery from the financial crisis is likely to be slow with or without the government's bailout actions. An oil price spike and a wealth shock in housing initiated the financial crisis. Declines in stock values are intensifying that shock, threatening to deepen the current recession as U.S. consumers and investors cut their expenditures. An offsetting wealth injection from additional risk-bearing investors could initiate a quicker recovery. Thus, supporters of government intervention justify the bailout's debt-financed fund injections—in essence, they want to compel future taxpayers to join the group of today's risk bearing investors.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: When Massachusetts passed its pioneering health care reforms in 2006, critics warned that they would result in a slow but steady spiral downward toward a government-run health care system. Three years later, those predictions appear to be coming true: Although the state has reduced the number of residents without health insurance, 200,000people remain uninsured. Moreover, the increase in the number of insured is primarily due to the state's generous subsidies, not the celebrated individual mandate. Health care costs continue to rise much faster than the national average. Since 2006, total state health care spending has increased by28 percent. Insurance premiums have increased by 8–10 percent per year, nearly double the national average. New regulations and bureaucracy are limiting consumer choice and adding to healthcare costs. Program costs have skyrocketed. Despite tax increases, the program faces huge deficits. The state is considering caps on insurance premiums, cuts in reimbursements to providers, and even the possibility of a “global budget” on health care spending—with its attendant rationing. A shortage of providers, combined with increased demand, is increasing waiting times to see a physician. With the “Massachusetts model” frequently cited as a blueprint for health care reform, it is important to recognize that giving the government greater control over our health care system will have grave consequences for taxpayers, providers, and health care consumers. That is the lesson of the Massachusetts model.
  • Topic: Health, Human Welfare, Markets, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Everyone agrees that the recent financial crisis started with the deflation of the housing bubble. But what caused the bubble? Answering this question is important both for identifying the best short-term policies and for fixing the credit crisis, as well as for developing long-term policies aimed at preventing another crisis in the future.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, California, Georgia
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Although neither the House nor the Senate passed a health care bill by President Obama's August deadline, various pieces of legislation have made it through committee, and they provide a concrete basis for analyzing what the proposed health care reform would and would not do. Looking at the various bills that are moving on Capitol Hill, we can determine the following: Contrary to the Obama administration's repeated assurances, millions of Americans who are happy with their current health insurance will not be able to keep it. As many as 89.5 million people may be dumped into a government-run plan. Some Americans may find themselves forced into a new insurance plan that no longer includes their current doctor. Americans will pay more than $820 billion in additional taxes over the next 10 years, and could see their insurance premiums rise as much as 95 percent. The current health care bills will increase the budget deficit by at least $239 billion over the next 10 years, and far more in the years beyond that. If the new health care entitlement were subject to the same 75-year actuarial standards as Social Security or Medicare, its unfunded liabilities would exceed $9.2 trillion. While the bills contain no direct provisions for rationing care, they nonetheless increase the likelihood of government rationing and interference with how doctors practice medicine. Contrary to assertions of some opponents, the bills contain no provision for euthanasia or mandatory end-of-life counseling. The bills' provisions on abortion coverage are far murkier.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Human Welfare, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Jagadeesh Gokhale, Peter Van Doren
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Many commentators have argued that if the Federal Reserve had followed a stricter monetary policy earlier this decade when the housing bubble was forming, and if Congress had not deregulated banking but had imposed tighter financial standards, the housing boom and bust—and the subsequent financial crisis and recession—would have been averted. In this paper, we investigate those claims and dispute them. We are skeptical that economists can detect bubbles in real time through technical means with any degree of unanimity. Even if they could, we doubt the Fed would have altered its policy in the early 21st century, and we suspect that political leaders would have exerted considerable pressure to maintain that policy. Concerning regulation, we find that the banking reform of the late 1990s had little effect on the housing boom and bust, and that the many reform ideas currently proposed would have done little or nothing to avert the crisis.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In March 2009, President Barack Obama said, “If there is a way of getting this done where we're driving down costs and people are getting health insurance at an affordable rate, and have choice of doctor, have flexibility in terms of their plans, and we could do that entirely through the market, I'd be happy to do it that way.” This paper explains how letting workers control their health care dollars and tearing down regulatory barriers to competition would control costs, expand choice, improve health care quality, and make health coverage more secure.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The most hazardous health reform measure before Congress is not the so-called "public option," but proposals to make health insurance compulsory via an individual or employer mandate. Compulsory health insurance could require nearly 100 million Americans to switch to a more expensive health plan and would therefore violate President Barack Obama's pledge to let people keep their current health insurance. In particular, the legislation before Congress could eliminate many or all health savings account plans. Making health insurance compulsory would also spark an unnecessary fight over abortion and would enable government to ration care to those with private health insurance.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Tad DeHaven
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has long been plagued by scandals, mismanagement, and policy failures. Most recently, HUD's subsidies and failed oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac helped to inflate the housing bubble, which ultimately burst and cascaded into a major financial crisis.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Glen Whitman, Raymond Raad
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The health care issues commonly considered most important today — controlling costs and covering the uninsured — arguably should be regarded as secondary to innovation, inasmuch as a medical treatment must first be invented before its costs can be reduced and its use extended to everyone. To date, however, none of the most influential international comparisons have examined the contributions of various countries to the many advances that have improved the productivity of medicine over time. We hope this paper can help fill that void.
  • Topic: Health, Human Welfare, Markets
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Benjamin E. Hippen
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Kidney transplantation in the United States is burdened by a terrible policy failure. The cost of this failure will be paid in the currency of years of human lives unnecessarily lost, as well as a massive increase in federal expenditures over the next decade and beyond. The number of patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in the United States has grown, but the supply of kidneys—for the preferred treatment for ESRD, kidney transplantation— has not kept pace with the demand. Unfortunately, the issue is not simply one of supply and demand: in the United States the supply of kidneys for transplantation is kept artificially low by a prohibition on the sale of human organs.
  • Topic: Health, Human Welfare, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: John Merrifield
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Pressing questions about the merits of market accountability in K-12 education have spawned a large scholarly literature. Unfortunately, much of that literature is of limited relevance, and some of it is misleading. The studies most widely cited in the United States used intense scrutiny of a few small-scale, restriction-laden U.S. programs—and a handful of larger but still restriction-laden foreign school choice expansions—to assert general conclusions about the effects of "choice," "competition," and "markets." The most intensely studied programs lack most or all of the key elements of market systems, including profit, price change, market entry, and product differentiation—factors that are normally central to any discussion of market effects. In essence, researchers have drawn conclusions about apples by studying lemons.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ira T. Kay, Steven Van Putten
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The economic slowdown and the active political season are generating calls for imposing new regulations on executive pay. The presidential candidates of the two major parties have lashed out at what they perceive to be excessive pay for certain executives or for corporate executives in general.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Author: Andrew J. Coulson
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Would large-scale, free-market reforms improve educational outcomes for American children? That question cannot be answered by looking at domestic evidence alone. Though innumerable “school choice” programs have been implemented around the United States, none has created a truly free and competitive education marketplace. Existing programs are too small, too restriction laden, or both. To understand how genuine market forces affect school performance, we must cast a wider net, surveying education systems from all over the globe. The present paper undertakes such a review, assessing the results of 25 years of international research comparing market and government provision of education, and explaining why these international experiences are relevant to the United States.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Johan Norberg
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine ;purports to be an exposé of the ruthless nature of free-market capitalism and its chief recent exponent, Milton Friedman. Klein argues that capitalism goes hand in hand with dictatorship and brutality and that dictators and other unscrupulous political figures take advantage of "shocks"-catastrophes real or manufactured-to consolidate their power and implement unpopular market reforms. Klein cites Chile under General Augusto Pinochet, Britain under Margaret Thatcher, China during the Tiananmen Square crisis, and the ongoing war in Iraq as examples of this process.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: China, Chile
  • Author: Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr.
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the past, the federal government has introduced moral hazard in the banking system through deposit insurance. Banks underpriced risk because of the federal guarantee that backed deposits. After banking crises in the 1980s and 1990s, deposit insurance was put on a sound basis and that source of moral hazard was mitigated. In its place, monetary policy has become a source of moral hazard. In acting to counter the economic effects of declining asset prices, the Federal Reserve has come to be viewed as underwriting risky investments. Policy pronouncements by senior Fed officials have reinforced that perception. These actions and pronouncements are mutually reinforcing and destructive to the operation of financial markets. The current financial crisis began in the subprime housing market and then spread throughout credit markets. The new Fed policy fueled the housing boom. Refusing to accept responsibility for the housing bubble, the Fed's recent actions will likely fuel a new asset bubble. The cumulative effects of recent monetary policy undermine the case for free markets.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: T.J. Rodgers
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Since the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, the Financial Accounting Standards Board has passed rules that it promises will make corporate accounting more transparent. In fact, its revised Generally Accepted Accounting Principles have made it difficult for investors — or even CEOs — to understand a company's financial report.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (IL) has proposed an ambitious plan to restructure America's health care sector. Rather than engage in a detailed critique of Obama's health care plan, many critics prefer to label it "socialized medicine." Is that a fair description of the Obama plan and similar plans? Over the past year, prominent media outlets and respectable think tanks have investigated that question and come to a unanimous answer: no.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Health, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Richard L. Gordon
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Many politicians and pundits are panicked over the existing state of the oil and gasoline markets. Disregarding past experience, these parties advocate massive intervention in those markets, which would only serve to repeat and extend previous errors. These interventionists propose solutions to nonexistent problems.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Will Wilkinson
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: “Happiness research” studies the correlates of subjective well-being, generally through survey methods. A number of psychologists and social scientists have drawn upon this work recently to argue that the American model of relatively limited government and a dynamic market economy corrodes happiness, whereas Western European and Scandinavian-style social democracies pro- mote it. This paper argues that happiness research in fact poses no threat to the relatively libertarian ideals embodied in the U.S. socioeconomic system. Happiness research is seriously hampered by confusion and disagreement about the definition of its subject as well as the limitations inherent in current measurement techniques. In its present state happiness research cannot be relied on as an authoritative source for empirical information about happiness, which, in any case, is not a simple empirical phenomenon but a cultural and historical moving target. Yet, even if we accept the data of happiness research at face value, few of the alleged redistributive policy implications actually follow from the evidence. The data show that neither higher rates of government redistribution nor lower levels of income inequality make us happier, whereas high levels of economic freedom and high average incomes are among the strongest correlates of subjective well- being. Even if we table the damning charges of questionable science and bad moral philosophy, the American model still comes off a glowing success in terms of happiness.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe
  • Author: Andrew J. Coulson
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The index presented in this report attempts to measure how closely existing school systems resemble free markets and rates education policy proposals on how conducive they are to the rise of competitive marketplaces. We define an education market as a system that provides the freedom for producers and consumers to voluntarily associate with one another, as well as the incentives that encourage families to be diligent consumers and educators to innovate, control costs, and expand their services. It is a system in which schools can offer instruction in any subject, using any method, for which families are willing to pay.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Markets
  • Author: Andrew J. Coulson
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The index presented in this report attempts to measure how closely existing school systems resemble free markets and rates education policy proposals on how conducive they are to the rise of competitive marketplaces. We define an education market as a system that provides the freedom for producers and consumers to voluntarily associate with one another, as well as the incentives that encourage families to be diligent consumers and educators to innovate, control costs, and expand their services. It is a system in which schools can offer instruction in any subject, using any method, for which families are willing to pay.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Markets