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  • Author: Thomas H. Mayor
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Karl Marx formulated his ideas in the middle of the 19th century when much of Europe, particularly England, was well along in what is often referred to as the Industrial Revolution. The central Marxist idea was that those who had wealth would reap the benefit of this revolution and become ever more wealthy while those who lived from their labor alone would be relegated to a bare subsistence. In his view, capital accumulation and increases in productivity do not benefit those who work for a living. Allegedly, those who own the means of production (wealth) and supposedly perform no work, receive all the benefits.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, England
  • Author: Richard E. Wagner
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Since the beginnings of the efforts of economist to give their discipline scientific grounding, economists have thought their theoretical efforts had relevance for addressing significant public issues. While the classical economists generally supported what Adam Smith described as the “system of natural liberty,” those economists also weighed in on numerous issues of public discussion. The tenor and substance of those efforts is set forth wonderfully by Lion Robbins (1952) and Warren Samuels (1966). While the analytical default setting of those economists was to support the system of natural liberty, they also recognized the value of sound public policy in supporting that stem. The classical economists thought that there could be publicly beneficial activities that the system. The classical economists thought that there could be publicly beneficial activities that the system of natural liberty would be unlikely to do well in providing. They also thought that there were activities provided through commercial transactions that could wreak significant effects on bystanders to those transactions. The amount of education acquired within a society was one such candidate (West 1965), with the care of the poor being another (Himmelfarb 1983). IN such matters as these, the classical economists engaged in strenuous debate and discussion that served as a forerunner to the development of welfare economics during the 20th century.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Philip K. Howard
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Phillip Howard is a lawyer nationally known for his best-selling books and extensive commentary on the dysfunctions of the American legal and political systems and the adverse effects those dysfunctions have on individual behavior and the overall workings of society.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Michael Teitelbaum
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In Washington, doomsday prophets tend to be effective motivational speakers. They successfully persuade the electorate that their cause is worthy and prompt Congress to take action. In his book Falling Behind? Boom, Bust, and the Global Race for Scientific Talent, Michael Teitelbaum takes on a particular brand of doomsday prophet: those who see impending shortages in the science and engineering workforce. Teitelbaum walks his readers through five postwar cycles of boom and bust in the science and engineering workforce, which eh argues have been driven to a large extend by political machinations set in motion by labor shortage claims (claims that have been almost universally rejected by economists studying the issue). The institutions that currently shape the science and engineering workforce are largely the product of policy responses to these booms and busts. As a result, Falling Behind? Is more than just a work of policy history. It is also a cogent analysis of contemporary R funding mechanisms, high-skill immigration policies, and PhD program structures.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Washington, Soviet Union
  • Author: James L. Buckley
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: “The United States faces two major problems today,” writes James L. Buckley: “runaway spending that threatens to bankrupt us and a Congress that appears unable to deal with long-term problems of any consequence.” Contributing significantly to both, he argues, are the more than 1,100 federal grants-in-aid programs Congress has enacted—federal grants to state and local governments, constituting 17 percent of the federal budget, the third-largest spending category after entitlements and defense, with costs that have risen from $24.1 billion in 1970 to $640.8 billion in fiscal 2015. His “modest proposal”? Do away with them entirely, thereby saving Congress from itself while emancipating the states and empowering their people. If that sounds like a program for revising constitutional federalism, it is.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Stephen J. K. Walters
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The image of a boom town is commonly used to describe exceptional conditions through which a village suddenly becomes a city. Often such conditions are the discovery of mineral deposits that attracts industry and commerce. While in their booming condition, such towns are oases of societal flourishing relative to their preceding state. In Boom Towns, Stephen J.K. Walters, a professor of economics at Loyola University in Baltimore, explains that cities in general have the capacity perpetually to b forms of boom towns. Cities can serve as magnets to attract people and capital, thus promoting the human flourishing that has always been associated with cities at their best. It is different if cities are at their worst, as Walters explains in brining Jane Jacobs's Death and Life of Great American Cities into explanatory ambit. There are no natural obstacles to cities occupying the foreground of societal flourishing. There are obstacles to be sure, but these are man-made. Being man-made, they can also be overcome through human action, at least in principle even if doing so in practice might be difficult.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Robert Krol
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Forecasts of future economic activity underlie any budget revenue projection. However, the forecasters in a government agency may face incentives or pressures that introduce forecast bias. For example, agency forecasters may be rewarded for a rosy growth forecast that allows politicians to avoid politically costly program cuts or tax increases. Similarly they may be penalized for underforecasting economic growth. Where a reward system is asymmetric, it would make sense to observe biased forecasts.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: California
  • Author: Thomas L. Hogan, William J. Luther
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Diamond-Dybvig (DD) model is often cited as a theoretical justification for government deposit insurance. In the model, rational agents find it in their interest to withdraw their bank deposits if they suspect other depositors plan to do likewise. When a sufficient number of agents are expected to liquidate their accounts, a bank run ensues. Guaranteeing deposits through a system of government administered deposit insurance removes the temptation to run on the bank and thereby precludes the need to ever use the deposit insurance.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Trevor Burrus
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government, Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI), and Don Watkins, a fellow at ARI, give a full-throated and spirited defense of Rand's arguments for freedom, self-actualization, and the just society. The book is a clear explanation of objectivism that weaves in timely and accurate policy discussions, such as the chapter on health care, that buttress the overall point.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: George Selgin
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For a private-sector firm, success can mean only one thing: that the firm has turned a profit. No such firm can hope to succeed, or even to survive, merely by declaring that it has been profitable. A government agency, on the other hand, can succeed in either of two ways. It can actually accomplish its mission. Or it can simply declare that it has done so, and get the public to believe it.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lawrence H. White
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Proposals abound for reforming monetary policy by instituting a less-discretionary or nondiscretionary system ("rules") for a fiat-money- issuing central bank to follow. The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee could be given a single mandate or more generally an explicit loss function to minimize (e.g., the Taylor Rule). The FOMC could be replaced by a computer that prescribes the monetary base as a function of observed macroeconomic variables (e.g., the McCallum Rule). The role of determining the fiat monetary base could be stripped from the FOMC and moved to a prediction market (as proposed by Scott Sumner or Kevin Dowd). Alternative proposals call for commodity money regimes. The dollar could be redefined in terms of gold or a broader commodity bundle, with redeemability for Federal Reserve liabilities being reinstated. Or all Federal Reserve liabilities could actually be redeemed and retired, en route to a fully privatized gold or commodity-bundle standard (White 2012). All of these approaches assume that there will continue to be a single monetary regime in the economy, so that the way to institute an alternative is to transform the dominant regime.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Kevin Warsh
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve's independence is essential to the conduct of monetary policy. But while the Fed is independent within government, it is not independent of government. The grant of authority to the Fed comes from Congress, to which the Fed is ultimately accountable. In my view, the Fed was granted significant powers by Congress, but those powers were not unlimited. The grant of authority was constrained. So by my measure, the Fed is a powerful institution, but a bounded one.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Allan H. Meltzer
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: On September 1, 1948, Allan Sproul, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, commented on Fed independence: I don't suppose that anyone would still argue that the central banking system should be independent of the Government of the country. The control which such a system exercises, over the volume and value of money is a right of Government and is exercised on behalf of Government, with powers delegated by the Government. But there is a distinction between independence from Government and independence from political influence in a narrower sense. The powers of the central banking system should not be a pawn of any group or faction or party, or even any particular administration, subject to political pressures and its own passing fiscal necessities [Letter to Robert R. Bowie, in Meltzer 2003: 738].
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr., Thomas F. Cargill
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve was founded in 1913 during the Wilson administration to end banking panics and depressions, and was part of the Progressive agenda for a more activist role of government (see Kolko 1963). By the 50th anniversary, the conventional wisdom was that the Fed's performance was overall satisfactory, especially after the Treasury-Federal Reserve Accord of 1951 that permitted independent monetary policy. While the decision to double reserve requirements in 1937 was judged a policy error, the Federal Reserve was not held responsible for the Great Depression.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Jurgen Stark
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It was one of the author's predictions in 1998 that the euro zone would end up teaching us more about economics compared to what economics could teach us about the euro zone. While many of the author's predictions of that year did not hold, including the forecast that the euro would challenge the dollar as the world's foremost reserve currency, this particular prediction ultimately turned out to be correct. A monetary union is a hybrid between a fixed exchange rate system and a unitary state, one that is fully captured neither with closed-economy macro models nor classical international macro models of fixed exchange rates.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: David Cronin
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article revisits the key conceptual aspects of the New Monetary Economics (NME) by examining the idea of “monetary separation” and objections raised against it. So long as a dominant role for base money in exchange exists, using it to provide the unit of account remains advantageous and is likely to outweigh any mooted benefits of separation. Recent quantitative analysis, however, shows the transaction demand for government base money to be falling, a development that can be expected to continue in the years ahead. The passage of time thus seems to be weakening the principal basis on which monetary separation has been criticized—namely, the superiority of base money in payments. That development fits into the history of money told by Austrian economists, which emphasises payment practices evolving over time in response to technological improvements and market forces.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Cyprus, Luxembourg
  • Author: Masoud Moghaddam
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The determinants of government budget deficits have been studied extensively, especially during the years in which the discrepancy between federal income taxes and expenditures has widened. In that respect, it is of interest to explore the causal relationship between government revenues and expenditures. If the direction of causation is from taxes to spending, then enjoying tax cuts without cutting expenditures necessitates starving the beast, as suggested by Milton Friedman (1978) and confirmed by a number of studies including Garcia and Henin (1999), and Chang, Liu, and Caudill (2002). On the other hand, if a tax cut is perceived by rational agents to be a cut in the cost of public goods, then spending would increase. In that case, taxes and spending are inversely related. Support for that relationship—the so-called fiscal illusion hypothesis—is provided by Wagner (1976), Niskanen (1978, 2002, 2006), and more recently by New (2009) and Young (2009). There are also a few studies in which no significant causal relation between tax and spend variables has been reported (e.g., Baghestani and McNown (1994).
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The purpose of this article is to delineate the legitimate functions of government in a free society. This exercise differs from determining the “optimal” size of government, which economists have estimated at 15 to 30 percent of gross domestic product. James Madison, the chief architect of the U.S. Constitution, was not primarily looking for an engine of economic growth; he was seeking an institutional design to limit the powers of government and protect individual rights. People would then be free to pursue their happiness and, in the process, create wealth.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Richard W. Rahn
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the past several decades, I have been a professional economist, government advisor, financial regulator, and have also engaged in international business. After this variety of experience, I am now more than ever convinced that Hayek was absolutely correct in how the government monopoly of the issuance of money leads to a never-ending cycle of economic crises. A decade ago, I was hopeful that the ability of private parties to create their own digital currency might be our salvation, and that led me to write a book, The End of Money and the Struggle for Financial Privacy (Rahn 1999). At the time, Milton Friedman told me that I was much too optimistic about how long it would take. Friedman was right, as usual, and we still seem decades away from this ideal.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Radhames Lizardo, André V. Mollick
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article examines the effect of government consumption on economic growth in 23 Latin American countries over the years 1974–2003. Employing the Armey Curve, we show that the typical Latin American government is spending beyond the optimal point. Using panel data and a fixed effects (FE) model, we find that increases in government consumption lead to unambiguous decreases in economic growth.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: China, Latin America
  • Author: Peter Z. Grossman
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the last 35 years, the U.S. government has embarked on several major projects to spur the commercial development of energy technologies intended to substitute for conventional energy resources, especially fossil fuels. Those efforts began with the 1973 energy crisis when President Nixon became the first U.S. leader to announce a plan for energy autarky. Presidents Ford and Carter followed Nixon's “Project Independence” with similar pledges. But beginning with Ford's 1975 energy act, plans for energy independence were tied directly to the development of new, alternative energy technologies. Under President Carter in particular, the federal government embarked on highly publicized, heavily funded efforts at developing new technologies with specific timetables for commercial entry and, in a few cases, a timetable for mass market substitution. Current mandates for ethanol and other biofuels fit this latter objective.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Peter Z. Grossman
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the last 35 years, the U.S. government has embarked on several major projects to spur the commercial development of energy technologies intended to substitute for conventional energy resources, especially fossil fuels. Those efforts began with the 1973 energy crisis when President Nixon became the first U.S. leader to announce a plan for energy autarky. Presidents Ford and Carter followed Nixon's “Project Independence” with similar pledges. But beginning with Ford's 1975 energy act, plans for energy independence were tied directly to the development of new, alternative energy technologies. Under President Carter in particular, the federal government embarked on highly publicized, heavily funded efforts at developing new technologies with specific timetables for commercial entry and, in a few cases, a timetable for mass market substitution. Current mandates for ethanol and other biofuels fit this latter objective.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jason Kuznicki
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It is daunting to review a book claiming that everything you believe is wrong. Fortunately, William Hudson's The Libertarian Illusion also attacks many things that neither I nor very many other libertarians believe. This gives courage for the rest.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: California
  • Author: Douglas A. Houston
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Many in the world of developmental economics believe that corruption, the circumvention of the rule of law for private gain, leads to nothing but woe for any nation's economy, under any circumstances. Transparency International makes the elimination of corruption their mission, and many large multinational firms today echo that goal by building ethical codes that prohibit employees from engaging in practices deemed corrupt, regardless of local attitudes and customs toward the practices. The World Bank makes curbing corruption a linchpin in their campaign to improve governance. Reasons given for blanket condemnation of corrupt behavior are often utilitarian: Corruption is expected to increase the economic costs of doing business by undermining the laws of the land; this, in turn, reduces productive activities and investments, with negative consequences unfolding for human development and economic growth.
  • Topic: Corruption, Economics, Government