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  • Author: George C. Bitros
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the aftermath of the unprecedented 2008 financial crisis, researchers of macroeconomics, finance, and political economy are showing renewed interest in the old but very significant question: Are central banks in large reserve currency democracies—in particular, the U.S. Federal Reserve—prone to creating asset bubbles, and if so, how is it possible to prevent the misuse of the banks' discretionary powers?
  • Topic: Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, England
  • Author: Edmund S. Phelps
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In his most recent tome, Edmund Phelps, the 2006 Nobel Laureate in Economic Science, addresses a topic crucial to successful national capitalist systems: the dynamics of the innovation process. Phelps develops his thesis around three main themes: In part one, he explains the development of the modern economies as they form the core of early—19th century societies in the West; in part two, he explores the lure of socialism and corporatism as competing systems to modern capitalism; and, in part three, he reviews post-1960s evidence of decline in dynamism in Western capitalist countries.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: 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: Jason E. Taylor, Jerry L. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In September 2012, seven weeks before the presidential election—one in which top marginal tax rates were a major policy difference between the two major—party candidates-the Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a paper (Hungerford 2012) suggesting that there is no empirical evidence that top marginal tax rates impact U.S. economic growth. After all, top marginal tax rates were above 90 percent during the 1950s and early 1960s when the economy experienced rapid growth. Furthermore, marginal tax rate cuts in 2001 and 2003 were followed by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The CRS study was widely reported in blogs, newspapers such as the New York Times, and The Atlantic magazine. It was portrayed as evidence refuting Republican candidate Mitt Romney's position that cutting the top marginal tax rate from 35 to 28 percent would spur economic growth and supporting Democratic President Barack Obama's position that top marginal tax rates could be raised to 39.6 percent with no cost to economic growth (Leonhart 2012, Thompson 2012).
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Andrew Foy, Christopher Sciamanna, Mark Kozak, Edward J. Filippone
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Since 1970, the annual growth in U.S. health care spending per capita has been more than double the real growth in GDP per capita: 4.3 percent versus 2 percent. Over that same time period countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) averaged an annual growth rate of 3.8 percent in health care spending per capita compared to only a 2.1 percent annual growth in GDP per capita. Eight of 20 countries had higher average annual growth rates in health care spending per capita than the United States (White 2007). In light of the pronounced institutional differences among these countries in medical financing arrangements, the similarity in the rate of health care spending growth is striking. Therefore, any explanation that seeks to account for the tremendous cost growth in health care over the last several decades must hold true across all OECD countries.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve Act was passed on December 23, 1913. It was designed to provide an elastic currency that would respond to the needs of trade. There was nothing in the Act about price stability, interest rates, or full employment. The expectation was that the United States would continue to define the dollar in terms of gold, and that the operation of the international gold standard would ensure long-run price stability.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Charles I. Plosser
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Douglass C. North, co-winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Economics, argued that institutions were deliberately devised to constrain interactions among parties—both public and private (North 1991). In the spirit of North's work, one theme of this article will be that the institutional structure of the central bank matters. The central bank's goals and objectives, its framework for implementing policy, and its governance structure all affect its performance.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jerry L. Jordan
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: All of us who are interested in the century-long experience of central banking in the United States owe a great debt to Allan Meltzer. His several-years-long efforts gave us over 2,000 pages of careful documentation of decisionmaking in the Federal Reserve for the first 75 years (Meltzer 2003, 2010a, 2010b). The first score of years transformed a lender-of-last-resort, payments processor, and issuer of uniform national currency into a full-fledged central bank with discretionary authority to manage a fiat currency.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: George Selgin
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For a private-sector firm, success can mean only one thing: that the firm has turned a profit. No such firm can hope to succeed, or even to survive, merely by declaring that it has been profitable. A government agency, on the other hand, can succeed in either of two ways. It can actually accomplish its mission. Or it can simply declare that it has done so, and get the public to believe it.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Athanasios Orphanides
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The founding of the Federal Reserve was a good idea, but its performance during its first hundred years has been hampered by the lack of clarity of its mandate. At times its mandate was interpreted as requiring the pursuit of multiple targets resulting in the failure to safeguard price stability over time. This article reviews the evolution of the Federal Reserve's mandate and argues that Congress should clarify the primacy of price stability as the central bank's mandate to ensure that the Federal Reserve will better safeguard monetary stability going forward.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lawrence H. White
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Proposals abound for reforming monetary policy by instituting a less-discretionary or nondiscretionary system ("rules") for a fiat-money- issuing central bank to follow. The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee could be given a single mandate or more generally an explicit loss function to minimize (e.g., the Taylor Rule). The FOMC could be replaced by a computer that prescribes the monetary base as a function of observed macroeconomic variables (e.g., the McCallum Rule). The role of determining the fiat monetary base could be stripped from the FOMC and moved to a prediction market (as proposed by Scott Sumner or Kevin Dowd). Alternative proposals call for commodity money regimes. The dollar could be redefined in terms of gold or a broader commodity bundle, with redeemability for Federal Reserve liabilities being reinstated. Or all Federal Reserve liabilities could actually be redeemed and retired, en route to a fully privatized gold or commodity-bundle standard (White 2012). All of these approaches assume that there will continue to be a single monetary regime in the economy, so that the way to institute an alternative is to transform the dominant regime.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Richard H. Timberlake, Jr.
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve System is no longer just an unconstitutional monetary institution promoting a continuing inflation; it has also become, with quantitative easing, an unauthorized fiscal agent for the U.S. government. The fiat currency and equally fiat bank reserves it creates are much in contrast to the private currency and bank reserves that the commercial banks' clearing house associations provided in the latter half of the 19th century. It is that episode I review here.
  • Topic: Civil War
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John A. Allison
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: I am going to talk from a different perspective because I am the only person who actually ran a bank that's been speaking today, and from that context I can tell you with absolute certainty that market discipline beats regulatory discipline. In fact, I will argue that regulatory discipline will always fail to reduce volatility and will slow economic growth. These observations are based on my understanding of public choice theory and particularly on 40 years of concrete experience in the banking business.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Martin Hutchinson, Kevin Dowd
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Financial regulation is a recurring and central issue in contemporary policy discussions. Typically, leftists want more of it, while proponents of free markets want less, or preferably, none of it. We would suggest, however, that the central issue is not whether markets should be regulated, but by whom—by the market itself, which includes self-regulation by market practitioners, or by the state or one of its agencies. To put it in Coasean terms, what is the most appropriate institutional arrangement by which markets—including financial markets-should be regulated?
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gerald P. O'Driscoll, Jr.
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The intellectual climate has never been more open to a critical analysis of existing monetary institutions both here and abroad. When the Germans agreed to a monetary union, they were promised that they would keep the Bundesbank; only the name would be changed to the European Central Bank. Instead, Germans with whom I have spoken now think they got the Banca d'Italia. In the United States, before the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve was held in high regard by the public. Now, at least in some circles, "the Fed" has become a term of opprobrium, not unlike "the IRS."
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Germany
  • Author: R. David Ranson
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Passing its 100th birthday, the Federal Reserve is receiving unprecedented scrutiny. We (the public) are living through the consequences of its attempts to bolster the U.S. economy through exceptionally low interest rates and the conversion of great quantities of debt to money. Although these efforts are ongoing, we are disappointed. Even with the help of strenuous actions on the fiscal side, economic and credit-market recovery from the recession of 2008–09 was notoriously slow. It took 15 quarters for U.S. real GDP to pass its pre-recession high in the fourth quarter of 2007, compared to only 7 quarters following the deep recession of 1981–82. On a per capita basis, there was an even starker contrast between the two recoveries. Moreover, the Fed remains a suspect in the genesis of the financial crisis that precipitated the Great Recession. The ultimate test of its role as overseer and regulator of the commercial banking system met with a very poor result.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Dean Stansel, Melissa Yeoh
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article provides the first examination of the relationship between public expenditures and labor productivity that focuses on municipalities, rather than states or nations. We use data for 1880–1920, a period of rapid industrialization in which there were both high levels of public infrastructure spending and rapid growth of productivity. We use a simple Cobb-Douglas production function to model labor productivity in the manufacturing sector, letting total factor productivity depend on “productive” public expenditure by city governments—that is, on public spending that may raise the productivity of labor and encourage human capital accumulation. Using a data set of 45 of the largest cities in the United States, we find no statistically significant relationship between productive public expenditure and labor productivity in the manufacturing sector during this period. These findings are robust to three different econometric approaches. We do, however, find a strongly positive and statistically significant relationship between private capital and labor productivity. Our results are consistent with those of much of the literature examining this same relationship in states and nations and they have important implications for contemporary public policy issues.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In 2001, the U.S. gross public debt was about $6 trillion; a decade later it was $14 trillion; by the end of 2012 it exceeded $16 trillion. A large part of that increase was absorbed by foreign holders, especially central banks in China and Japan. With the U.S. government gross debt ratio now in excess of 100 percent of GDP, not including the trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities in Social Security and Medicare, it is time to stop blaming China for the U.S. debt crisis.
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China
  • Author: Thomas Grennes
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The value of government debt relative to the size of the economy has become a serious problem, and the problem is likely to grow in the future. Total debt of the U.S. government relative to gross domestic product increased substantially since the financial crisis and the Great Recession that began in 2007, but the debt ratio has been increasing since 2001. Gross debt relative to GDP increased from 55 percent in 2001 to 67 percent in 2007 to 107 percent in 2012. Comparable figures for debt held by the public (net debt or gross debt minus debt held by various government agencies) were 80 percent in 2011 and 84 percent in May 2012 (IMF 2012). As a result, the debt ratio is now the highest in U.S. history, except for World War II, when it reached 125 percent of GDP (Bohn 2010). U.S. debt is also high relative to the debt of other high-income countries, and projections of future debt place the U.S. government among the world's largest debtors (IMF 2011, 2012; Evans et al. 2012). Gross debt consists of all the bonds issued by the U.S. Treasury, but a broader measure that includes contingent debt results in a much larger debt (Cochrane 2011). Contingent debt includes unfunded obligations related to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and loan guarantees to agencies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and these obligations are so large that they have been described as a “debt explosion” (Evans et al. 2012). The sovereign debt crisis of the European Union has similarities to the U.S. debt problem, but it also has significant differences, as will be shown below. Interestingly, the poorer countries of the world that have frequently experienced debt problems in the past, have avoided major debt problems so far.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Margaret Thatcher once quipped about the problem facing modern social welfare states: "They always run out of other people's money." Today, in country after country, we are seeing that prophetic remark coming true. The headlines have been dominated by the problems of the so called PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain), which face the most immediate economic crisis and have required economic support from the International Monetary Fund and other European countries. However, even countries with relatively robust economies, such as France and Germany, are facing unprecedented levels of debt. Unless the countries of Europe reform their welfare states, they will face some combination of huge tax increases or default on their obligations, both explicit and implicit. The result will be social upheaval and continued economic stagnation. The tough choices facing those countries are playing out today in parliaments and on the streets. The future remains highly uncertain. But how much better off is the United States? Our national debt exceeds $16.4 trillion and is increasing at a rate of more than $3 million per minute. And that only represents the debt that is actually "on the books." If the unfunded liabilities of Medicare and Social Security are included, then U.S. total indebtedness could top 800 percent of GDP.
  • Topic: International Monetary Fund
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Greece, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland
  • Author: Jagadeesh Gokhale, Erin Partin
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: What are the implications of Europe's economic troubles for America? Several EU economies now face deep private and sovereign debt overhangs-a situation not unlike that in the United States, which also faces its own challenges with fiscal policy. How do the economic conditions in America and the EU compare in the short and longer terms? This article provides an overview of key indicators that summarize and help to project the two regions' economic prospects. It should be noted at the outset, however, that economic conditions and policies in the two regions differ in substantive ways. As in the United States, most European economies-members of the European Monetary Union (EMU)-now participate in a single currency (euro) system operated by the European Central Bank-the counterpart of the U.S. Federal Reserve System. However, the EU lacks a single central fiscal authority that operates a significant cross-nation transfer system. Having surrendered authority over monetary policy and, by the definition of a single currency, exchange rate policy, EMU member nations must depend on national fiscal policies to exert stewardship over their economies.
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It does not take more than a glance at the headlines to see that European countries are in trouble. From Greece to Britain, from France to Portugal, it is becoming clear that the modern welfare state is unsustainable, facing fiscal catastrophe, stagnant economic growth, punishing taxes, and prolonged joblessness. European countries are being forced, kicking and screaming, to rethink their approach to social welfare. But how much better off is the United States?
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States, America, Europe, Greece, France, Portugal
  • Author: Pierre Lemieux
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The American welfare state is not as different from the European welfare state as conventional wisdom would have it. If we define the welfare state as that part of the state (the whole apparatus of government at all levels) devoted to taking charge of the welfare of the public, welfare-state functions cover social protection (which includes public pensions), health, and education. These functions make up 57 percent of total U.S. government expenditures compared to 63 percent for the typical euro zone country. In this sense, the American welfare state is only about 10 percent smaller than the European welfare state.
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe
  • Author: Desmond Lachman
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The European sovereign debt crisis offers a cautionary tale for the United States. This is the case since all too sadly the U.S. public finances appear to be on the same sort of unsustainable path that lies at the heart of the present European crisis. Whereas Europe, taken as a whole, currently has a budget deficit of around 3 percent of GDP And a gross public debt ratio of around 90 percent of GDP, the United States has a budget deficit of around 8 percent of GDP and a gross public debt ratio in excess of 105 percent of GDP.
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Chris Edwards
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Two decades ago Canada suffered a deep recession and teetered on the brink of a debt crisis caused by rising government spending. The Wall Street Journal said that growing debt was making Canada an "honorary member of the third world" with the "northern peso" as its currency. However, Canada reversed course and cut government spending, balanced its budget, and enacted pro-market reforms. It reduced trade barriers, privatized businesses, and slashed its corporate tax rate. The economy boomed, unemployment plunged, and the formerly weak Canadian dollar soared to reach parity with the U.S. dollar. The Canadian reforms were hugely successful. Today, the United States is in as bad or worse fiscal shape than Canada was in. U.S. leaders need to make major fiscal and economic reforms, and they can learn many lessons from Canadian efforts to restrain government and create a more competitive economy.
  • Topic: Reform
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada
  • Author: George S. Tavlas
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This issue of the Cato Journal is dedicated to Anna Jacobson Schwartz, who passed away on June 21, 2012, at the age of 96. Anna was an economic historian whose scholarship was marked by, among other things, dedication, tenacity, and perseverance. Her career spanned three quarters of a century. When Anna was about 90, her son Jonathan complained (somewhat tongue-in-check) that he had thought about retiring, but did not feel comfortable doing so while his mother was still working. In 1936, she began collaborating with A. D. Gayer and W. W. Rostow on a study of fluctuations in the British economy between 1790 and 1850. The study was not published until 1953, although most of the work on the study had been completed by the early 1940s. Anna joined the National Bureau of Economic Research in 1941 and remained there for the rest of her life, continuing to go to her office until shortly before her death. She published her first NBER paper in 1947 with Elma Oliver, and her last with Michael Bordo and Owen Humpage in 2012. Her collaboration with Milton Friedman on A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960 began in 1948 and was not completed until 1963. The underlying objective of Anna's scholarship throughout her career was to use historical evidence, which she assembled with meticulous attention to accuracy, to understand the workings of the economy better.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Steven Gjerstad, Vernon L. Smith
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Balance sheet crises, in which the prices of widely held and highly leveraged assets collapse, pose distinctive economic challenges. An understanding of their causes and consequences is only recently developing, and there is no agreement at all on effective policy responses. A preliminary purpose of this article is to examine in detail the events that led to and resulted from the recent U.S. housing bubble and collapse, as a case study in the formation and propagation of balance sheet crises. The primary objective of the article is to evaluate similar events around the world with a view toward assessing the economic performance of countries that have pursued varied alternative policies.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Thomas Hoenig
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For the last 100 years, government officials and bank CEOs have insisted that new policies, rules, and laws—combined with greater market discipline, resolution schemes, and enhanced supervision—would ensure that future financial crises, should they occur, would be more effectively handled. In the United States, the creation of the Federal Reserve System and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation are examples where such assurances were given to the public. More recently, the FDIC Improvement Act of 1991 and other legislation were intended to end public bailouts of failing banks and, in particular, prevent the moral hazard problem inherent in “too big to fail.” Such assurances seem even more significant following a U.S. Treasury (1991) study that found that “too big to fail” resolution policies used for six of the largest banks cost taxpayers more than $5 billion (in current dollars). If only the cost of the six largest bailouts in this recent crisis were just $5 billion. Unfortunately, it was many times greater.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: James Dorn
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Immigration has been instrumental in U.S. history in promoting economic development and increasing the range of options open to people. Millions of immigrants have come to America in search of opportunities to improve their lives and to raise their families. They have taken great risks and worked hard to ensure a better and freer future for themselves and their families.
  • Topic: Immigration
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Bryan Caplan
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Consider the following thought experiment: Moved by the plight of desperate earthquake victims, you volunteer to work as a relief worker in Haiti. After two weeks, you're ready to go home. Unfortunately, when you arrive at the airport, customs officials tell you that you're forbidden to enter the United States. You go to the American consulate to demand an explanation. But the official response is simply, “The United States does not have to explain itself to you.”
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gordon H. Hanson
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: As the 2012 presidential campaign gets under way, there will be intense public debate about the direction of economic policy. The continuing torpor of the U.S. economy and mounting government debt oblige candidates to detail how they would improve prospects for economic growth and reduce the federal budget deficit. We are sure to hear a great deal about plans to lower taxes, reduce government regulation, improve U.S. education, and rebuild infrastructure. But it is a near certainty that no candidate will make immigration part of his or her vision for achieving higher rates of long-run economic growth. To be sure, stump speeches will contain pat pronouncements about securing American borders, restoring the rule of law, or bringing undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, depending on the candidate's political orientation. Yet, it is a safe bet that after getting through these bullet points candidates will seek to change the subject. Immigration is a divisive issue that most national politicians prefer to avoid. President Obama checked his immigration box by making a halfhearted call for immigration reform in May 2011. That proposal was quickly buried under many more pressing items in his legislative outbox.
  • Topic: Immigration
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Giovanni Peri
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: According to a survey in 2008, about 50 percent of Americans perceived immigration as a problem rather than as an opportunity (Transatlantic Trends 2008). Similar surveys conducted in the prerecession years of 2007 and before also showed that Americans were much less supportive of more open immigration policies than they were of other aspects of globalization such as free trade or free capital movements (Pew Research Center 2007). Since the onset of the recession of 2008–2009 and during the jobless recovery of 2010–11, public opinion about immigration further deteriorated. The idea that immigrants take American jobs, depress national wages, and threaten the U.S. economy has become even more rooted, as often happens during economic recessions. The political discourse accompanying the economic and labor market impact of immigrants is very intense and pervasive in the media but often generates “more heat than light”.
  • Topic: Immigration
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Stuart Anderson
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: If the U.S. Congress and executive branch agencies formulated coherent policies, then here is what our immigration system would look like: highly skilled foreign nationals could be hired quickly and gain permanent residence, employers could hire foreign workers to fill niches in lower-skilled jobs, foreign entrepreneurs could easily start businesses in the United States, and close relatives of American citizens could immigrate in a short period of time. If all those things were true, then we wouldn't be talking about America's immigration system.
  • Topic: Immigration
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Pia Orrenius, Madeline Zavodny
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Immigration policy reform has reached an impasse because of disagreement over whether to create a pathway to legal permanent residence and eventual U.S. citizenship for unauthorized immigrants. The United States first—and last—offered a large-scale amnesty as part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in 1986. Despite increased border enforcement and provisions for employer sanctions, the law failed to curtail unauthorized immigration. The 9/11 terror attacks renewed the emphasis on national security and led to stricter policies regarding undocumented immigrants. Over the past decade, border and interior enforcement has increased, while avenues that allowed some illegal residents to adjust to legal status have been eliminated, and a growing number of states have adopted laws aimed at driving out unauthorized immigrants.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Edward Alden
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For the past two decades the United States, a country with a strong tradition of limited government, has been pursuing a widely popular initiative that requires one of the most ambitious expansions of government power in modern history: securing the nation's borders against illegal immigration. Congress and successive administrations— both Democratic and Republican—have increased the size of the Border Patrol from fewer than 3,000 agents to more than 21,000, built nearly 700 miles of fencing along the southern border with Mexico, and deployed pilotless drones, sensor cameras, and other expensive technologies aimed at preventing illegal crossings at the land borders. The government has overhauled the visa system to require interviews for all new visa applicants and instituted extensive background checks for many of those wishing to come to the United States to study, travel, visit family, or do business. It now requires secure documents—a passport or the equivalent—for all travel to and from the United States by citizens and noncitizens. And border officers take fingerprints and run other screening measures on all travelers coming to this country by air in order to identify criminals, terrorists, or others deemed to pose a threat to the United States.
  • Topic: International Security, Immigration
  • Political Geography: United States, Mexico
  • Author: Margaret Stock
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Declaration of Independence famously asserted that “all men are created equal,” but this assertion did not become an American constitutional reality until the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868. The Fourteenth Amendment's Citizenship Clause—intended to overturn the infamous U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Dred Scott (1857) case—states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” Traditionally, the clause has been interpreted to confer U.S. citizenship on anyone born within the United States whose parents are subject to U.S. civil and criminal laws—which has historically meant that only babies born in the United States to diplomats, invading armies, or within certain sovereign Native American tribes have been excluded from birthright American citizenship. Alarmed by the thought that unauthorized immigrants, wealthy tourists, and temporary workers are giving birth to thousands of U.S. citizens, some want to change the long-standing rule by reinterpreting or amending the Citizenship Clause. But will this proposed change be good for America? Will it benefit America to reduce substantially the number of birthright U.S. citizens—and put in place more complex rules that would provide that U.S.-born babies are not created equal?
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Daniel Griswold
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Among the more serious arguments against liberalizing immigration is that it can be costly to taxpayers. Low-skilled immigrants in particular consume more government services than they pay in taxes, increasing the burden of government for native-born Americans. Organizations such as the Center for Immigration Studies, the Heritage Foundation, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform have produced reports claiming that immigration costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars a year, with the heaviest costs borne by state and local taxpayers. No less a classical liberal than Milton Freidman mused that open immigration is incompatible with a welfare state. Responding to a question at a libertarian conference in 1999, Friedman rejected the idea of opening the U.S. border to all immigrants, declaring that “You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state” (Free Students 2008).
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. government has attempted for more than two decades to put a stop to unauthorized immigration from and through Mexico by implementing "enforcement-only" measures along the U.S.-Mexico border and at work sites across the country. These measures have failed to end unauthorized immigration and have placed downward pressure on wages in a broad swath of industries.
  • Topic: Economics, Immigration
  • Political Geography: United States, Mexico
  • Author: Richard Vedder, Joshua C. Hall, Benjamin J. VanMetre
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: On most issues of public policy one can predict the position that individuals will take based on their ideological orientation. Immigration policy, however, is one topic where ideological perspective is historically useless in predicting individual positions. The decision of whether or not to liberalize immigration policy or to place greater restrictions on it is something that creates a divide not only between political parties but also within the parties themselves. Peter Brimelow (1999) is one prominent voice from the right who believes that the current immigration policies not only second-guess the American people but threaten the American nation. Brimelow is a strong supporter of placing restrictions on immigration at levels that are much lower than those that currently exist. A similar position is taken by the libertarian political philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Specifically, Hoppe (1998) argues that the United States will continue to suffer until policies are implemented that subject all migration to the condition of legally binding contractual invitations between the private domestic persons and the arriving immigrants.
  • Topic: Immigration
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Robert B. Zoellick, Sebastian Mallaby
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Sebastian Mallaby: We are here to talk to Bob Zoellick. I have been in Washington 16 years, Bob is the personification of the kind of silo busting polymathic energy which says, I am not just interested in international economics, I am not just interested in international relations, I am not just a U.S. government official, I am also going to do multilateral diplomacy. So Bob has been on all sides of those various divides. He has a voracious intellect, so it is always interesting to speak with him whether he is in office or out of office.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Washington
  • Author: Jeffrey M. Lacker
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 was a watershed event for the Federal Reserve and other central banks. The extraordinary actions they took have been described, alternatively, as a natural extension of monetary policy to extreme circumstances or as a problematic exercise in credit allocation. I have expressed my view elsewhere that much of the Fed's response to the crisis falls in the latter category rather than the former (Lacker 2010). Rather than reargue that case, I want to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the institutional reasons behind the prevailing propensity of many modern central banks to intervene in credit markets.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John A. Allison
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: I strongly believe that the recent financial crisis, ensuing recession, and slow recovery were primarily caused by government policy. The Federal Reserve made some very bad monetary decisions that created a bubble, i.e., a massive malinvestment. The bubble ended up being focused in the housing market largely because of government affordable housing policies—specifically, the actions of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, government-sponsored enterprises that would not exist in a free market. When Freddie and Fannie failed, they owed $5.5 trillion including $2 trillion in affordable housing (subprime) loans. It's true that a number of banks made serious mistakes, and I would have let them fail, but their mistakes were secondary and within the context of government policy.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: George Melloan
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: “Well, if I had a nickel, I know what I would do. I'd spend it all on candy and give it all to you. . . . Cause that's how much I love you baby.” That wasn't a very generous proposition even in 1946, when country singer Eddy Arnold wrote those words. But at least a nickel would buy a good-sized Baby Ruth or Clark bar. Today? A jelly bean, perhaps?
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom
  • Author: Benn Steil
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The financial crisis that began unfurling in 2008 has led to the refashioning of the model central bank governor along the lines of Churchillian war leader, willing to try anything with the money he conjures to restore economic growth. This raises important questions as to what limits, if any, elected officials should impose on such aspiring great men, and what limits markets will ultimately impose on them if elected officials forbear. This article focuses on the second of these questions.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Judy Shelton
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Something has gone terribly wrong with the world's monetary system. It's evident that some kind of fundamental reform needs to be implemented. The question is: Can governments be trusted to issue sound money, or is money too important to be left to the politicians?
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Richard H. Timberlake
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the course of more than two centuries, the United States has had two monetary systems. The first was a gold-silver standard that was framed in its essentials by the U.S. Constitution. In practical terms, it said that any legal tender money created by the federal union or the states or the "people" had to be gold or silver coins, or redeemable in gold or silver coins of specified weight and fineness. Since both gold and silver were constitutional media, the country had a bimetallic standard that ultimately became a monometallic gold standard.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ron Paul
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: I've thought about and have written about the Federal Reserve for a long time. I became fascinated with the monetary issue in the 1960s, having come across the Austrian economists, especially Hayek and Mises, and I was very impressed with August 15, 1971, because the predictions made in the 1960s came about. As a matter of fact, Henry Hazlitt made that prediction in 1944 when the Bretton Woods system was set up. He said it wouldn't work and it would fall apart—and it did—so that was a strong confirmation.
  • Political Geography: United States, Australia
  • Author: Kurt Schuler, William McBride
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: During the 18th and 19th centuries and for part of the 20th century, more than 60 countries had free banking. The major characteristics of free banking are competitive issue of notes (paper money) and deposits by commercial banks, low legal barriers to entry, little regulation unique to the industry, and no central control of reserves (the monetary base) within the national monetary system (Dowd 1992, White 1995). Among the countries that had a form of free banking was the United States. Even after the freest period of free banking ended, with the Civil War, banks continued to issue notes until the federal government effectively monopolized note issue in 1935.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lawrence H. White
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Suppose for the sake of argument that we all agree to the following proposition: If we could change the monetary regime with zero switching cost, merely by snapping our fingers, we would prefer the United States to be on a gold standard. In the most general terms, a gold standard means a monetary system in which a standard mass (so many grams or ounces) of pure gold defines the unit of account, and standardized pieces of gold serve as the ultimate media of redemption. Currency notes, checks, and electronic funds transfers are all denominated in gold and are redeemable claims to gold. We then face the question: What would be the least costly way for the United States to make the transition to a new gold standard? We need to choose a low-cost method to ensure that the agreed benefits of being on the gold standard exceed the costs of switching over.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Kruti Dholakia-Lehenbauer, Euel W. Elliott
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article explores four questions. First, what theoretical frameworks help describe policy failure and success? Second, how might the decision that leads to failure or success be understood in terms of differing concepts of rationality and decisionmaking? Third, how does the discussion of risk and uncertainty as originally proposed by Frank Knight (1921) apply to a better understanding of both the first and second questions? Fourth, what is the relationship between serial and parallel processing and how are these administrative systems related to important aspects of the prior questions? Our chief contribution in this article is to show the ways in which these questions and their respective theoretical frameworks are interrelated as applied to one important contemporary policy question-climate change. We think our proposed integration of the various literatures offers important insights into the challenges policymakers face in deciding whether or not to adopt a particular policy.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Todd C. Neumann, Jason E. Taylor, Jerry L. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Recent research on the Great Depression emphasizes the role New Deal economic policy played in slowing recovery. Policies promoting cartels and higher wage rates during a time that the economy was experiencing unprecedented unemployment were likely to have created a negative supply shock that exacerbated economic depression rather than helped to alleviate it. Still, for 22 months between two important Supreme Court rulings, labor and product markets were relatively free of intervention. In A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States (May 1935), the Court ruled that the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 (NIRA) was unconstitutional. In addition to setting up industry cartels, the NIRA had imposed relatively high minimum hourly wage rates and restrictions on work- weeks and required firms to recognize the right of labor to organize.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: 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: Peter Clark
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: At one point during the recent financial crisis the queen of England reportedly asked economists at the London School of Economics a seemingly straightforward question: “Why did academic economists fail to foresee the crisis?” This question can be broadened to include central banks, the International Monetary Fund, and technical specialists on Wall Street (“quants”). Jerome L. Stein, professor of economics (emeritus) and research professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics at Brown University, has written a timely book that provides a cogent and convincing answer to this question.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Kam Hon Chu
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Many financial systems were plagued by bank runs or subject to the risk of contagion when the recent financial tsunami unfolded. The runs on the U.S. banks Countrywide and IndyMac, Britain's Northern Rock, and Hong Kong's Bank of East Asia, among others, occurred about a few years ago, but they are still vivid to us. These runs were, of course, the symptoms rather than the root cause of the financial tsunami. In response to the most severe systemic global financial crisis since the Great Depression, policymakers and regulators in many countries have implemented various drastic regulatory measures to rescue the financial systems from meltdowns and to avert deep economic downturns. Such measures vary from country to country, but generally speaking they include governments' takeovers of banks or capital injections, quantitative easing techniques, provisions of liquidity by lax lender-of-last-resort lending, lower discount rates, and more generous deposit insurance.
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, Hong Kong
  • Author: Robert Carbaugh, Thomas Tenerelli
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: From 1775 when Benjamin Franklin was appointed as the first postmaster general of the United States, the agency known as the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has grown to become an institution that delivers about half of the world's mail in rain, snow, and the dark of night. Employing about 656,000 workers and 260,000 vehicles and operating about 38,000 facilities nationwide, the USPS is the second-largest civilian employer in the United States, after WalMart. If the USPS was a private sector company, it would rank 28th in the 2009 Fortune 500 (U.S. Postal Service 2010).
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Malou Innocent
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the Western mind, Afghanistan conjures up a rugged land of fractious, tribal people. From Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan, to Tamerlane and Mughal emperor Babur, virtually no conqueror has escaped “the graveyard of empires” unscathed. Even modern, industrial empires—the British and the Russian— suffered heavy losses. Why have foreign attempts to conquer Afghanistan proved so ineffective? Why did the U.S. invasion fail to bring stability?
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: 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: 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: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This is a valuable book for anyone who wants to gain an understanding of the key forces that have made China the world's second largest economy and opened the door for millions of people to lift themselves out of poverty. The book is divided into four parts, with the first three devoted to economic analysis of China's peaceful rise and the fourth reflecting on the U.S. economy and its future.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Vincent R. Reinhart, Carmen M. Reinhart
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve's conduct of monetary policy casts a spell over market participants, commentators, and academics. The pages of financial newspapers parse subtle differences among the comments of Fed officials and delve deeply into potentially multiple meanings of official statements. Academic discussions argue that the path of the policy rate may (as in Taylor 2009) or may not (as in Bernanke 2010, and Greenspan 2010) have fueled a home-price bubble in the United States.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Harris Dellas, George S. Tavlas
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In this article, we argue that the present constellation of exchange rate arrangements among the major currencies has led to the creation of excessive global liquidity, which has contributed to asset price bubbles. Although the exchange rates of many of the major currencies—including the U.S. dollar, the euro, the yen, and the pound sterling—float against each other, the currencies of many Asian emerging market economies and oil-exporting economies are pegged to the dollar. Dooley, Folkerts-Landau, and Garber (2004a) labeled this system “Bretton Woods II” (BWII). The original Bretton Woods regime (BWI) lasted for about a quarter of a century. Dooley, Folkerts-Landau, and Garber (DFG) argue that the present regime, despite its large global imbalances, will also be sustainable.
  • Topic: Oil
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Kevin Dowd, Martin Hutchinson
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In Matthew 25: 14–30, Jesus recounts the Parable of the Talents, the story of how the master goes away and leaves each of three servants with sums of money to look after in his absence. He then returns and holds them to account. The first two have invested wisely and give the master a good return, and he rewards them. The third, however, is a wicked servant who couldn't be bothered even to put the money in the bank where it could earn interest. Instead, he simply buried the money and gave his master a zero return. He is punished and thrown into the darkness where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: To the extent that monetary policy influences asset prices, it does so via the demand for assets, by changing the borrowing costs to purchase assets, or via supply, where movements in interest rates can make investment in assets look more or less attractive. Fiscal policy interventions can also contribute to bubbles by changing the cost of acquiring specific assets. Most discussions of asset bubbles, particularly those involving the role of monetary policy, focus on demandside factors. This article examines the role of supply-side factors in the recent booms in the U.S. housing market and dot-com stocks. The importance of supply constraints in each market is discussed. Policy implications are then presented.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Charles W. Calomiris
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Will Rogers, commenting on the Depression, famously quipped: “If stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out?” Rogers's rhetorical question has an obvious answer: persistent stupidity fails to recognize prior errors and, therefore, does not correct them. For three decades, many financial economists have been arguing that there are deep flaws in the financial policies of the U.S. government that account for the systemic fragility of our financial system, especially the government's subsidization of risk in housing finance and its ineffective approach to prudential banking regulation. To avoid continuing to make the same mistakes, it would be helpful to reflect on the history of crises and government policy over the past three decades.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Malpass
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the years, there has been a lot to consider in the Federal Reserve's choices of monetary policy and their relationship to bubbles. My conclusion is that mistaken U.S. monetary policy, usually related to the Fed's indifference to the value of the dollar, has repeatedly caused harmful asset bubbles in the United States and abroad. Policy is again at risk with the Fed's imposition of near-zero interest rates and its decision to conduct large-scale asset purchases (termed “quantitative easing”). Regulatory policy has often been ineffective at identifying or addressing asset bubbles, especially those caused by Fed policy. The solution is a parallel track to improve monetary policy so that it provides a more stable dollar and fewer asset bubbles; and to strengthen regulatory policy so that it provides a more reliable base for growth-creating free markets.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Daniel Griswold
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Let me preface this review with a confession: As an advocate of free trade, I love to link the 1930 Smoot-Hawley tariff bill with the Great Depression at every opportunity. More than 80 years after its passage, the bill still evokes negative feelings about protectionism. After reading Douglas Irwin's Peddling Protectionism: Smoot- Hawley and the Great Depression, I can see I need to curb my enthusiasm. Irwin does not defend the bill, far from it. He concludes that it failed to achieve its objectives and that it did, in an incremental way, make the Great Depression worse. But in the careful language of the professional economist and historian that he is, Irwin documents in rich and often colorful detail that the most infamous trade bill in American history had less impact than either its advocates or its opponents understood at the time or understand today. Even so, the story of Smoot-Hawley offers valuable lessons for today as our politicians seek to craft U.S. trade policy in the 21st century. Irwin is superbly qualified to write the definitive history of what was officially the Trade Act of 1930. A professor of economics at Dartmouth College, he has authored Against the Tide: An Intellectual History of Free Trade (1996), and Free Trade under Fire (3rd ed., 2009).
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Richard L. Gordon
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Pennington undertakes a needed effort to provide a systematic, analytic critique of recent efforts to discredit what he terms “classical liberal economics.” His is effectively the standard but hard-to-sell proposition that prescient impartial counselors—Plato's philosopher kings—have failed to emerge from the development of modern knowledge. In particular, Pennington makes good use of Hayek's radical contrast between the competitive testing of concepts in a spontaneous market order and the construction of solutions by government monopolies. As Pennington's conclusions nicely summarize, skepticism of limited government is high and fostered by those who are seeking rents from intervention. Thus, ideas that committed libertarians see as obviously absurd need systematic debunking for a broader audience. Pennington, therefore, pretends that he is treating serious arguments and confronts them respectfully.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This special issue of the Cato Journal was made possible by a generous grant from the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation . The question posed in this issue—Are Unions Good for America?—has both normative and positive aspects. Normatively, if one takes freedom as a fundamental principle, then compulsory unionism cannot be justified in a free society; it violates the rights of both workers and employers. Under current U.S. labor law, workers are often compelled to join unions and employers are compelled to negotiate “in good faith.” Public sector unions are even more onerous than private sector unions; they limit consumer choices and impose heavy tax burdens.
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Randall G. Holcombe, James D. Gwartney
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The freedom to enter into contracts and to direct the use of economic resources one owns are essential to the operation of a market economy. Allowing employees to form unions to bargain collectively over wages and employment conditions is consistent with economic freedom, and any government intervention preventing unionization would be a violation of economic freedom. Nevertheless, American labor law, especially since the 1930s, has altered the terms and conditions under which unions collectively bargain to heavily favor unions over the firms that hire union labor. Labor law has given unions the power to dictate to employees collective bargaining conditions, and has deprived employees of the right to bargain for themselves regarding their conditions of employment. While unions and economic freedom are conceptually compatible, labor law in the United States, and throughout the world, has restricted the freedom of contract between employees and employers.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Chris Edwards
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Public sector compensation is becoming a high-profile policy issue. While private sector wages and benefits have stagnated during the recession, many governments continue to increase compensation for public sector workers. At the same time, there are growing concerns about huge underfunding in public sector retirement plans across the nation.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Stephen J. K. Walters
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The usual suspects in the tragic demise of many of America's core cities are well known. For decades, scholars, politicians, and pundits have condemned the racism that led whites to flee diverse urban populations after World War II, sneered at Americans' vulgar affection for cars and expansive lawns, criticized policies that encouraged us to indulge these tastes, and blamed capitalist greed and unwhole- some technological change for the deindustrialization that has wrecked urban labor markets.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: George C. Leef
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The public policy of the United States is broadly in favor of competition. Our antitrust laws are premised on the idea that in the absence of such legislation private interests would seek to create monopolies, fix prices, restrain trade, and stifle competition. Moreover, the federal government, as well as the states and municipalities, has laws mandating competitive bidding on government contracts to guard the public against "sweetheart deals" that squander tax dollars. Open competition, in fact, is usually the undoing of those conspiracies against the public that Adam Smith saw as so prevalent.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Richard Vedder
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The most essential ingredient embodied in the liberty championed by the classical liberal writers of the Enlightenment and beyond is individual choice and right of expression—the right of persons to say what they think, decide for themselves what groups that want to join, what religion that want to profess, what person they want to marry, what goods they want to buy or sell, and what persons they want to represent them where necessity requires collective decision making. One important economic dimension of individual liberty is the right to sell one's labor services without attenuation—that is, without limits on the terms of the agreement (e.g., wage rates and hours of work), or who will represent the worker in reaching those terms.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Daniel Griswold
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the past three decades, labor union leaders have emerged as among the chief critics of trade liberalization, while the economic evidence has grown that labor unions compromise the ability of American companies to compete in global markets.
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Lowell E. Gallaway
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the more than 200 years in which formal organizations of workers (labor unions) have existed in the United States, there have been three distinct eras of policy toward them. Initially, in the late 18th and early 19th century, they were regarded as associations that came under the purview of the English common-law doctrine of conspiracy— that is, their very existence could be considered illegal, regardless of the objectives of the group.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This special issue of the Cato Journal was made possible by a generous grant from the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation. The question posed in this issue—Are Unions Good for America?—has both normative and positive aspects. Normatively, if one takes freedom as a fundamental principle, then compulsory unionism cannot be justified in a free society; it violates the rights of both workers and employers. Under current U.S. labor law, workers are often compelled to join unions and employers are compelled to negotiate "in good faith." Public sector unions are even more onerous than private sector unions; they limit consumer choices and impose heavy tax burdens.
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: 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: William Poole
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Officially, the United States has a strong-dollar policy, whatever that is supposed to mean. In practice, what we see is a benign dollar policy, by which I mean that the United States is very unlikely to take any action to attempt to affect the value of the dollar on the foreign exchanges that it would not take for other reasons. My title asks the question "Is a Benign Dollar Policy Wise?" My answer is a resounding "yes."
  • Topic: Foreign Exchange
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Peter J. Wallison
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It is popular around the world to blame the financial crisis on the United States. But before we identify this as the usual anti- Americanism, we should perhaps look more seriously at our country's housing policies. Unfortunately, there is a strong argument that the financial crisis is indeed the fault of the United States—an artifact of the housing policies that this country has followed since the early 1990s. These policies produced an unprecedented number of subprime and other nonprime mortgages (known as Alt-A), and when the housing bubble topped out in late 2006 and early 2007, these loans began to default at unprecedented rates. In my view, the severe losses associated with these defaults caused weakness of Bear Stearns and AIG—resulting in their rescue—the failure of Lehman Brothers, the severe recession we are experiencing in the United States today, and ultimately the financial crisis itself.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mark Calabria
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Charles Rowley and Nathanael Smith have put together a brief, yet extensive, study comparing America's Great Depression and the recent financial crisis. Their focus is on both the economics and the politics behind these events. With both, they demonstrate how each was a failure of government, not of the market. The book concludes with several recommendations for addressing our nation's current economic and fiscal situation. The most original contribution of their work is in bringing a Public Choice framework to evaluating the financial crisis.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Chris Edwards
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that there are more union members in the public sector than in the private sector in the United States. Thirty-nine percent of state and local government workers are members of unions, compared to just 7 percent of private sector workers. What problems are caused by the high level of public sector unionism?
  • Topic: Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Miranda Xafa
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: More than two years on, the impact of the financial crisis that erupted in August 2007 is still being felt as the global economy emerges from the Great Recession. The crisis intensified dramatically after the bankruptcy of Lehman and the rescue of insurance giant AIG in September 2008, which narrowly avoided a near-simultaneous failure of multiple counterparties. The International Monetary Fund's early forecast of the severity of the resulting economic downturn (IMF 2008a) helped mobilize concerted official action to address quickly and forcefully these extraordinary economic and financial events by providing fiscal stimulus to sustain growth, as well as capital injections and guarantees to ease the credit crunch. Following the emergency summit of G20 leaders in Washington in November 2008, support packages for banks were put together in a hurry in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere to prevent the dis- orderly failure of systemically important institutions and to restore confidence in the financial system.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In early 2008, the future of the International Monetary Fund was in doubt. The world was awash with dollars since the United States ran an enormous current account deficit, the mirror image of which was trade surpluses in most other countries. Hence, few countries had balance of payments problems, and the IMF had few borrowers. IMF income was insufficient to meet its costs, and so it retrenched hundreds of economists, and both its relevance and legitimacy were questioned. But that episode now looks like a temporary historical blip. After the collapse of Lehman Brothers—and the global financial system—in September 2008, the IMF was suddenly in more demand by governments than ever before to help finance stricken countries across continents. The G20 agreed to triple IMF resources to $750 billion, the four BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) agreed to subscribe to the IMF's first bond issue of $80 billion, and India has bought 200 tons of IMF gold. So an IMF role seems assured in future crises.
  • Topic: International Monetary Fund
  • Political Geography: United States, Tamil Nadu
  • 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