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  • Author: Weiying Zhang
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: History and casual observations suggest that ideas and leadership are the two most important forces in all institutional changes. However, they have been absent or downplayed in conventional economic analysis of institutional changes. Conventional economics has exclusively focused on the notion of “interest” in explaining almost everything, from consumers' choices to public choices to institutional changes. IN particular, institutional changes have been modeled as a game of interests between different groups (such as the ruling and the ruled), with the assumption that there is a well-defined mapping from interests into outcomes.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Randall G. Holcombe
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Political capitalism is an economic and political system in which the economic and political elite cooperate for their mutual benefit. The economic elite influence the government's economic policies to use regulation, government spending, and the design of the tax system to maintain their elite status in the economy. The political elite are then supported by the economic elite which helps the political elite maintain their status; an exchange relationship that benefits both the political and economic elite.
  • Topic: Economics, War
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: George C. Bitros
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the aftermath of the unprecedented 2008 financial crisis, researchers of macroeconomics, finance, and political economy are showing renewed interest in the old but very significant question: Are central banks in large reserve currency democracies—in particular, the U.S. Federal Reserve—prone to creating asset bubbles, and if so, how is it possible to prevent the misuse of the banks' discretionary powers?
  • Topic: Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, England
  • Author: Thomas H. Mayor
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Karl Marx formulated his ideas in the middle of the 19th century when much of Europe, particularly England, was well along in what is often referred to as the Industrial Revolution. The central Marxist idea was that those who had wealth would reap the benefit of this revolution and become ever more wealthy while those who lived from their labor alone would be relegated to a bare subsistence. In his view, capital accumulation and increases in productivity do not benefit those who work for a living. Allegedly, those who own the means of production (wealth) and supposedly perform no work, receive all the benefits.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, England
  • Author: Ryan H. Murphy
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Contemporary economic policy debates are dominated by concerns regarding the rise in inequality (Stiglitz 2012, Piketty 2014). Primarily, this has led to a focus in re-invigorating redistribution. For instance, Robert Shiller (2014) has recently argued for indexing top marginal tax rates to inequality and using the revenues to fund transfer payments. Secondarily, there are the longstanding objections to “neoliberalism” in general, which has encouraged globalization and the liberalization of markets. To the extent that liberal reforms have improved economic institutions, might today's inequality subsequently derail them?
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Author: Richard E. Wagner
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Since the beginnings of the efforts of economist to give their discipline scientific grounding, economists have thought their theoretical efforts had relevance for addressing significant public issues. While the classical economists generally supported what Adam Smith described as the “system of natural liberty,” those economists also weighed in on numerous issues of public discussion. The tenor and substance of those efforts is set forth wonderfully by Lion Robbins (1952) and Warren Samuels (1966). While the analytical default setting of those economists was to support the system of natural liberty, they also recognized the value of sound public policy in supporting that stem. The classical economists thought that there could be publicly beneficial activities that the system. The classical economists thought that there could be publicly beneficial activities that the system of natural liberty would be unlikely to do well in providing. They also thought that there were activities provided through commercial transactions that could wreak significant effects on bystanders to those transactions. The amount of education acquired within a society was one such candidate (West 1965), with the care of the poor being another (Himmelfarb 1983). IN such matters as these, the classical economists engaged in strenuous debate and discussion that served as a forerunner to the development of welfare economics during the 20th century.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Philip K. Howard
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Phillip Howard is a lawyer nationally known for his best-selling books and extensive commentary on the dysfunctions of the American legal and political systems and the adverse effects those dysfunctions have on individual behavior and the overall workings of society.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Edmund S. Phelps
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In his most recent tome, Edmund Phelps, the 2006 Nobel Laureate in Economic Science, addresses a topic crucial to successful national capitalist systems: the dynamics of the innovation process. Phelps develops his thesis around three main themes: In part one, he explains the development of the modern economies as they form the core of early—19th century societies in the West; in part two, he explores the lure of socialism and corporatism as competing systems to modern capitalism; and, in part three, he reviews post-1960s evidence of decline in dynamism in Western capitalist countries.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Michael Teitelbaum
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In Washington, doomsday prophets tend to be effective motivational speakers. They successfully persuade the electorate that their cause is worthy and prompt Congress to take action. In his book Falling Behind? Boom, Bust, and the Global Race for Scientific Talent, Michael Teitelbaum takes on a particular brand of doomsday prophet: those who see impending shortages in the science and engineering workforce. Teitelbaum walks his readers through five postwar cycles of boom and bust in the science and engineering workforce, which eh argues have been driven to a large extend by political machinations set in motion by labor shortage claims (claims that have been almost universally rejected by economists studying the issue). The institutions that currently shape the science and engineering workforce are largely the product of policy responses to these booms and busts. As a result, Falling Behind? Is more than just a work of policy history. It is also a cogent analysis of contemporary R funding mechanisms, high-skill immigration policies, and PhD program structures.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Washington, Soviet Union
  • Author: James L. Buckley
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: “The United States faces two major problems today,” writes James L. Buckley: “runaway spending that threatens to bankrupt us and a Congress that appears unable to deal with long-term problems of any consequence.” Contributing significantly to both, he argues, are the more than 1,100 federal grants-in-aid programs Congress has enacted—federal grants to state and local governments, constituting 17 percent of the federal budget, the third-largest spending category after entitlements and defense, with costs that have risen from $24.1 billion in 1970 to $640.8 billion in fiscal 2015. His “modest proposal”? Do away with them entirely, thereby saving Congress from itself while emancipating the states and empowering their people. If that sounds like a program for revising constitutional federalism, it is.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Rebecca U. Thorpe
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In The American Warfare State, Reecca Thrope attempts to answer what she calls “the fundamental puzzle” of American politics: “Why a nation founded on a severe distrust of standing armies and centralized power developed and maintained the most powerful military in history.”
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Stephen J. K. Walters
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The image of a boom town is commonly used to describe exceptional conditions through which a village suddenly becomes a city. Often such conditions are the discovery of mineral deposits that attracts industry and commerce. While in their booming condition, such towns are oases of societal flourishing relative to their preceding state. In Boom Towns, Stephen J.K. Walters, a professor of economics at Loyola University in Baltimore, explains that cities in general have the capacity perpetually to b forms of boom towns. Cities can serve as magnets to attract people and capital, thus promoting the human flourishing that has always been associated with cities at their best. It is different if cities are at their worst, as Walters explains in brining Jane Jacobs's Death and Life of Great American Cities into explanatory ambit. There are no natural obstacles to cities occupying the foreground of societal flourishing. There are obstacles to be sure, but these are man-made. Being man-made, they can also be overcome through human action, at least in principle even if doing so in practice might be difficult.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The stability or instability of the market economy is an issue that has been all but ignored in macroeconomics for several decades. Within monetary economics, the distribution of income has been similarly ignored. The crisis of recent years tells us in no uncertain terms that we have to pay more attention to these two topics. Changes in financial regulation and in the conduct of monetary policy have not only played a very significant role in generating the financial crisis but have also been important in bringing about a large shift in the distribution of income over the last two or three decades
  • Author: Walker F. Todd
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Banks either are or should be fiduciaries holding the public’s funds as a public trust. Those who want to participate in the risktaking aspects of banking are shareholders (or should be shareholders). If the government is called upon to share the risks of banking, especially the risks of investment banking, then it should be a shareholder. As Edward J. Kane puts it, “For investment banker’s risk, there should be investment banker’s reward for the taxpayers.” And once the government is a shareholder, it owes a public duty to restrain the egregious risk taking and excess executive compensation in which banks seem to have wanted to engage for the last 30 years or so.
  • Author: Edwin Vieri Jr.
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In his Inaugural Address of 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt warned his fellow Americans that “in our progress towards a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order: there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments, so that there will be an end to speculation with other people’s money; and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.” Nonetheless, Roosevelt proceeded to promote an exceedingly unsound currency—with the seizure of most Americans’ gold, devaluation of gold coinage, removal of domestic redemption of Federal Reserve Notes in gold, and the nullification of gold clauses in both public and private contracts (Vieira 2002:867–1235).
  • Author: Jerry L. Jordan
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Fruitful consideration of the role of gold in a market-based monetary system must be preceded by an understanding of why gold is not part of our government-based monetary system. I have set out my view on that issue elsewhere (Jordan 2011) and will not repeat it here. People whose views on money I greatly respect still advocate restoring gold backing to the Federal Reserve-issued U.S. dollar. During the Hearings of the U.S. Gold Commission in 1981–82, several witnesses advocated restoration of some linkage between Federal Reserve-issued dollar notes and gold.
  • Author: George Selgin
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: More than a half century ago, in October 1961, Milton Friedman’s “Real and Pseudo Gold Standards” appeared in the Journal of Law and Economics. In that article, Friedman argued that versions of the gold standard erected after 1914, if not some earlier ones, were “pseudo” gold standards, differing from “real” ones in dispensing with actual gold coins and allowing monetary authorities to sterilize international gold movements, instead of letting those movements automatically regulate national money stocks. Such pseudo gold standards, Friedman argued, amounted to particularly dangerous instances of government price-fixing, and as such ought to be anathema to believers in free markets.
  • Author: Judy Shelton
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It has been more than six years since the global economy was put through the financial wringer and left hung out to dry. According to former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who presided over the debacle: “September and October of 2008 was the worst financial crisis in global history, including the Great Depression” (da Costa 2014). Given that Bernanke is a scholar on the global economic collapse of the 1930s, his assessment is particularly sobering. After all, a horrifying world war followed in its aftermath.
  • Author: Nathan Lewis
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Historically, there have been two basic frameworks by which a government organizes its monetary affairs. One of these—the Soft Money approach—we are quite familiar with today: a process by which a committee of government bureaucrats manages a floating fiat currency of some sort, on a day-to-day and ad hoc basis. The other format—the Hard Money approach—is typified by the Rule of Law, which is some definite and unchanging framework by which the currency is managed. Consequently, there is no need or role for a day-to-day human discretionary element, except perhaps in some of the particulars of the system’s execution.
  • Author: Geoffrey Black, D. Allan Dalton, Samia Islam, Aaron Batteen
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over 50 years ago, in "The Problem of Social Cost," Ronald Coase (1960) attempted to reorient the economics profession's treatment of externalities. He wanted to draw economists' attention away from the world of pure competition as a policy standard and investigate the consequences of transaction costs and property rights for the operation of markets. In 1991, he was awarded the Nobel prize in economics "for his discovery and clarification of the significance of transaction costs and property rights for the institutional structure and functioning of the economy" (Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 1991). The Academy cited both his 1960 article and his 1937 article "The Nature of the Firm."
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: Jason E. Taylor, Jerry L. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In September 2012, seven weeks before the presidential election—one in which top marginal tax rates were a major policy difference between the two major—party candidates-the Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a paper (Hungerford 2012) suggesting that there is no empirical evidence that top marginal tax rates impact U.S. economic growth. After all, top marginal tax rates were above 90 percent during the 1950s and early 1960s when the economy experienced rapid growth. Furthermore, marginal tax rate cuts in 2001 and 2003 were followed by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The CRS study was widely reported in blogs, newspapers such as the New York Times, and The Atlantic magazine. It was portrayed as evidence refuting Republican candidate Mitt Romney's position that cutting the top marginal tax rate from 35 to 28 percent would spur economic growth and supporting Democratic President Barack Obama's position that top marginal tax rates could be raised to 39.6 percent with no cost to economic growth (Leonhart 2012, Thompson 2012).
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John Merrifield, Barry W. Poulson
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Economic downturns expose unsustainable fiscal practices. Widespread fiscal crises create opportunities to compare policy options that address especially adverse circumstances, especially progrowth fiscal constraints that can stabilize state budgets over the business cycle. Our policy option assessments depart from the normal practice of assessing rules and policies independently. Our premise is that the fiscal policy mix determines its outcomes. We include dynamic scoring to provide a richer view of the policy interactions.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: California
  • Author: Andrew Foy, Christopher Sciamanna, Mark Kozak, Edward J. Filippone
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Since 1970, the annual growth in U.S. health care spending per capita has been more than double the real growth in GDP per capita: 4.3 percent versus 2 percent. Over that same time period countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) averaged an annual growth rate of 3.8 percent in health care spending per capita compared to only a 2.1 percent annual growth in GDP per capita. Eight of 20 countries had higher average annual growth rates in health care spending per capita than the United States (White 2007). In light of the pronounced institutional differences among these countries in medical financing arrangements, the similarity in the rate of health care spending growth is striking. Therefore, any explanation that seeks to account for the tremendous cost growth in health care over the last several decades must hold true across all OECD countries.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Robert Krol
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Forecasts of future economic activity underlie any budget revenue projection. However, the forecasters in a government agency may face incentives or pressures that introduce forecast bias. For example, agency forecasters may be rewarded for a rosy growth forecast that allows politicians to avoid politically costly program cuts or tax increases. Similarly they may be penalized for underforecasting economic growth. Where a reward system is asymmetric, it would make sense to observe biased forecasts.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: California
  • Author: Paul Ballonoff
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Recently The Economist (2013a), a prominent journalistic advocate of strong policies to control CO2 emissions, expressed their puzzlement on the absence of warming over the last 15 years. They observed that this flat period of global average temperature occurred despite that CO2 emissions from human sources continued at an increased rate. The total human-produced CO2 emissions in that period of flat temperatures represent a quarter of all such emissions ever produced. The standard climate models, such as those used by the United Nation's International Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC), anticipated that such massive CO2 increases should have caused continuing increases in average global temperatures. The Economist noted that observed global average temperature is now at the lowest end of the predicted range, and that if the present trend continues, the actual temperatures will soon be below even the lowest forecasts. Most recently, Fyfe, Gillett, and Zwiers (2013) demonstrated that the current climate models have experienced a systematic failure—a finding very similar to Knappenberger and Michaels (2013).
  • Topic: Environment, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Joshua R. Hendrickson
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: A bank is considered insolvent when its liabilities (deposits) exceed the value of its assets (reserves, loans, and securities). If assets exceed liabilities, any losses experienced on the asset side of the bank balance sheet result in a corresponding loss in the bank's capital. Insolvency occurs only in the event of losses exceeding the value of capital. All else equal, a bank with more capital is at lower risk of insolvency because the value of the bank's capital fluctuates with the value of assets.
  • Topic: Civil War
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom
  • Author: Thomas L. Hogan, William J. Luther
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Diamond-Dybvig (DD) model is often cited as a theoretical justification for government deposit insurance. In the model, rational agents find it in their interest to withdraw their bank deposits if they suspect other depositors plan to do likewise. When a sufficient number of agents are expected to liquidate their accounts, a bank run ensues. Guaranteeing deposits through a system of government administered deposit insurance removes the temptation to run on the bank and thereby precludes the need to ever use the deposit insurance.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Paul H. Rubin
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: A concept recently developed by scholars in psychology and biology is "pathological altruism." (Oakley 2013, Oakley et al. 2012). A pathological altruist is defined as "a person who sincerely engages in what he or she intends to be altruistic acts, but who harms the very person or group he or she is trying to help, often in unanticipated fashion; or harms others; or irrationally becomes a victim of his or her own altruistic actions." (Oakley, Knafo, and McGrath 2012: 4). We may relate this concept to Buchanan's Samaritan's dilemma: Buchanan's Samaritan is the altruist, and the pathology is that the recipient will be in the "no work" cell, so that the Samaritan becomes a victim of his own altruistic actions (Buchanan 1975).
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Trevor Burrus
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government, Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI), and Don Watkins, a fellow at ARI, give a full-throated and spirited defense of Rand's arguments for freedom, self-actualization, and the just society. The book is a clear explanation of objectivism that weaves in timely and accurate policy discussions, such as the chapter on health care, that buttress the overall point.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The majority of books on the recent financial crisis tend to be written either by economics/finance experts or by journalists. While the journalistic accounts occasionally focus on political actors, it is usually in the manner of "bad people doing bad things" rather than with a theoretical framework. The economic accounts, with some exception, rarely incorporate the politics of finance. It is this vacuum that Political Bubbles attempts to fill.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Patrick J. Michaels
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Yale historian Paul Sabin's The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble over Earth's Future is worth a read because of its detailed tour through the world of environmental doomsaying. Yet, in the end, I was profoundly disappointed, consigning this book to my very large Cassandra File because Sabin endorses that doomsaying as expressed by dreaded global warming.
  • Topic: Climate Change
  • Author: Peter Van Doren
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Economic shocks in an unregulated textbook world are managed through the price system. During gluts, prices fall and the least efficient firms lose wealth and exit the market. The result is that supply falls and demand increases. Eventually a new equilibrium is reached in which prices increase toward marginal cost and risk-adjusted returns to firms equal the cost of capital. During shortages, prices rise, existing firms receive rents, and new firms enter the market. The result is that supply increases and demand falls. Eventually a new equilibrium is reached in which prices decrease toward marginal cost and risk-adjusted returns to firms fall to equal the cost of capital.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve Act was passed on December 23, 1913. It was designed to provide an elastic currency that would respond to the needs of trade. There was nothing in the Act about price stability, interest rates, or full employment. The expectation was that the United States would continue to define the dollar in terms of gold, and that the operation of the international gold standard would ensure long-run price stability.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Charles I. Plosser
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Douglass C. North, co-winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Economics, argued that institutions were deliberately devised to constrain interactions among parties—both public and private (North 1991). In the spirit of North's work, one theme of this article will be that the institutional structure of the central bank matters. The central bank's goals and objectives, its framework for implementing policy, and its governance structure all affect its performance.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jerry L. Jordan
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: All of us who are interested in the century-long experience of central banking in the United States owe a great debt to Allan Meltzer. His several-years-long efforts gave us over 2,000 pages of careful documentation of decisionmaking in the Federal Reserve for the first 75 years (Meltzer 2003, 2010a, 2010b). The first score of years transformed a lender-of-last-resort, payments processor, and issuer of uniform national currency into a full-fledged central bank with discretionary authority to manage a fiat currency.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: George Selgin
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For a private-sector firm, success can mean only one thing: that the firm has turned a profit. No such firm can hope to succeed, or even to survive, merely by declaring that it has been profitable. A government agency, on the other hand, can succeed in either of two ways. It can actually accomplish its mission. Or it can simply declare that it has done so, and get the public to believe it.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Athanasios Orphanides
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The founding of the Federal Reserve was a good idea, but its performance during its first hundred years has been hampered by the lack of clarity of its mandate. At times its mandate was interpreted as requiring the pursuit of multiple targets resulting in the failure to safeguard price stability over time. This article reviews the evolution of the Federal Reserve's mandate and argues that Congress should clarify the primacy of price stability as the central bank's mandate to ensure that the Federal Reserve will better safeguard monetary stability going forward.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lawrence H. White
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Proposals abound for reforming monetary policy by instituting a less-discretionary or nondiscretionary system ("rules") for a fiat-money- issuing central bank to follow. The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee could be given a single mandate or more generally an explicit loss function to minimize (e.g., the Taylor Rule). The FOMC could be replaced by a computer that prescribes the monetary base as a function of observed macroeconomic variables (e.g., the McCallum Rule). The role of determining the fiat monetary base could be stripped from the FOMC and moved to a prediction market (as proposed by Scott Sumner or Kevin Dowd). Alternative proposals call for commodity money regimes. The dollar could be redefined in terms of gold or a broader commodity bundle, with redeemability for Federal Reserve liabilities being reinstated. Or all Federal Reserve liabilities could actually be redeemed and retired, en route to a fully privatized gold or commodity-bundle standard (White 2012). All of these approaches assume that there will continue to be a single monetary regime in the economy, so that the way to institute an alternative is to transform the dominant regime.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Richard H. Timberlake, Jr.
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve System is no longer just an unconstitutional monetary institution promoting a continuing inflation; it has also become, with quantitative easing, an unauthorized fiscal agent for the U.S. government. The fiat currency and equally fiat bank reserves it creates are much in contrast to the private currency and bank reserves that the commercial banks' clearing house associations provided in the latter half of the 19th century. It is that episode I review here.
  • Topic: Civil War
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Scott B. Sumner
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The history of central banking is a story of one failure after another. This record does not mean that our actual monetary regimes have been the worst of all possible regimes—far from it. But it does mean that we can improve policy by learning from experience. Every proposed reform is a response to a previous failure, an implicit display of lessons learned.
  • Political Geography: Canada
  • Author: Jeb Hensarling
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Before I get into the body of the remarks, I want to thank the Cato Institute for everything it stands for and everything it has meant to me. As I was walking in the foyer, I noticed a copy of the Cato Journal on a table there. I recall as an undergraduate student at Texas A University in the 1970s that I took $25 dollars—and I'm a guy who worked my way through college—of my hard-earned money to invest in the Cato Journal. That was money I could have invested in long necks at the Dixie Chicken, our local watering hole. Also, I would like to thank John Allison. If you have not read his book, The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism Is the World Economy's Only Hope, I commend it to you. Finally, I would like to tell you that as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, before I decide to move out on any particular issue, I certainly glean the scholarship of Cato in general and Mark Calabria in particular.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: John A. Allison
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: I am going to talk from a different perspective because I am the only person who actually ran a bank that's been speaking today, and from that context I can tell you with absolute certainty that market discipline beats regulatory discipline. In fact, I will argue that regulatory discipline will always fail to reduce volatility and will slow economic growth. These observations are based on my understanding of public choice theory and particularly on 40 years of concrete experience in the banking business.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Martin Hutchinson, Kevin Dowd
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Financial regulation is a recurring and central issue in contemporary policy discussions. Typically, leftists want more of it, while proponents of free markets want less, or preferably, none of it. We would suggest, however, that the central issue is not whether markets should be regulated, but by whom—by the market itself, which includes self-regulation by market practitioners, or by the state or one of its agencies. To put it in Coasean terms, what is the most appropriate institutional arrangement by which markets—including financial markets-should be regulated?
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Kevin P. Brady
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: By every economic measure, our nation is presently mired in a disappointing economic recovery. In fact, ours is the weakest recovery of the past half century. Uncertainty reigns as the purchasing power of the dollar declines. What ails us goes well beyond federal fiscal policy, and it is certainly not the result of an irrational marketplace. What ails us goes much deeper to our nation's monetary policy, which is well overdue for a review.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Gerald P. O'Driscoll, Jr.
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The intellectual climate has never been more open to a critical analysis of existing monetary institutions both here and abroad. When the Germans agreed to a monetary union, they were promised that they would keep the Bundesbank; only the name would be changed to the European Central Bank. Instead, Germans with whom I have spoken now think they got the Banca d'Italia. In the United States, before the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve was held in high regard by the public. Now, at least in some circles, "the Fed" has become a term of opprobrium, not unlike "the IRS."
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Germany
  • Author: R. David Ranson
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Passing its 100th birthday, the Federal Reserve is receiving unprecedented scrutiny. We (the public) are living through the consequences of its attempts to bolster the U.S. economy through exceptionally low interest rates and the conversion of great quantities of debt to money. Although these efforts are ongoing, we are disappointed. Even with the help of strenuous actions on the fiscal side, economic and credit-market recovery from the recession of 2008–09 was notoriously slow. It took 15 quarters for U.S. real GDP to pass its pre-recession high in the fourth quarter of 2007, compared to only 7 quarters following the deep recession of 1981–82. On a per capita basis, there was an even starker contrast between the two recoveries. Moreover, the Fed remains a suspect in the genesis of the financial crisis that precipitated the Great Recession. The ultimate test of its role as overseer and regulator of the commercial banking system met with a very poor result.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lewis E. Lehrman
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: To evaluate the history of the Federal Reserve System, we cannot help but wonder, whither the Fed? and to consider wherefore its reform—even what and how to do it. But first let us remember whence we came one century ago.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jonathan Blanks
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Criminal justice reform has been gaining momentum in Washington, attracting policymakers from both sides of the aisle. Draconian mandatory minimum sentences, overcrowded prisons, and bloated criminal justice budgets have made reform a bipartisan issue. This is undoubtedly a positive development, but—as is typical with the political process—the most popular reforms are not enough. Most of the political capital and rhetoric focuses on "back-end" criminal justice reforms, such as sentencing reform, early release, and alternatives to incarceration. While these reforms are sorely needed, the "front end" of the criminal justice system—criminal laws, the courts, and policing itself—also needs thorough examination. Radley Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cop is an exemplar of what these assessments should look like in the American context.
  • Political Geography: America, Washington
  • Author: Travis Evans
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For the better part of a decade, the United States has been mired in mediocrity, settling for what feels like a new normal of low eco- nomic growth, stagnant wages, political intransigence, and an unending war or terror. Many think America's better days are behind it. Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, disagrees. In Foreign Policy Begins at Home , Haass attempts to reverse American defeatism and assuage fears of American decline, arguing instead that the United States is simply underperforming, suffering from "American made" problems that can be corrected by restoring the "foundations of its power." He explains that America's true strength abroad comes from its strength at home, and if America is to provide global leadership it "must first put its house in order." While much of Foreign Policy focuses on policy prescriptions that would restore American strength, the true contribution of the book is its explanation of why such a strategy is needed.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, America
  • Author: Tom G. Palmer
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In Why Capitalism? Meltzer has assembled a number of short studies of policy, the good and the bad, tied together by an aphorism from Immanuel Kant: "Out of timber so crooked as that from which man is made, nothing entirely straight can be carved.
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • Author: Emily McKlintock Ekins
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In this review, I will focus on three main points: their test of whether the tea party is comprised of "reactionary" or "responsible conservatives," their statistical methods testing if racism and a preference for social dominance drive tea party supporters, and their comparison of the tea party to the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s. The authors prematurely reject the argument that the tea party is primarily motivated by genuine concerns about spending, the size and scope of government, and taxes in part because they rely on a problematic comparison of local tea party group websites to the National Review Online (NRO). From this analysis, they conclude the movement is a contemporary manifestation of paranoid reactionary conservatism.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article deals with the main problems and proposed solutions with respect to the euro. I start with what I perceive to be confusion in the debate on the euro. The next section shows a large variation in the growth performance in the eurozone, and more broadly in the European Union (EU). This should make us skeptical when hearing about the crisis of the euro, or of Europe. I then proceed to discuss what the problem countries in the eurozone suffer from. The next section deals with a more difficult question: What are the links between the euro architecture and the accumulation of these problems—that is, the imbalances and structural barriers to economic growth in some members of the eurozone? I then proceed to discuss the adjustment under the euro after 2008, focusing on the weaknesses of the policies of the crisis management. The article ends with a critical discussion of the problems and solutions put forward in the debate on the euro.
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • 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: Paul Ballonoff
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The traditional problem often called “Electricity development” is to improve and expand services from an established monopolistic electricity supplier. The lack of an effective dominant utility, however, is a defining condition for the 1.4 billion people without access for electricity, the so-called unserved. Therefore, the issues that arise are different from those of traditional utility service as a mandated monopoly. This article shows how free markets can help resolve the problem of serving the unserved.
  • Author: Carlos Pestana Barros, Ari Francisco de Araujo Jr., João Ricardo Faria
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article analyzes conflicts in Brazil involving landless peasants and the violence that frequently results from their invasion and occupation of privately owned rural land for the period 2000–08. Land ownership in Brazil is overwhelmingly and historically characterized by large, family-owned estates (Pichon 1997). The unequal and inequitable allocation of land together with weak institutions, weak markets, and low asset endowment may make land reform a low priority (Binswanger and McIntire 1987, Sjaastad and Bromley 1997). In the absence of effective land reforms, these factors may lead to the occupation of land by the landless poor peasants by violent means (Assunção 2008). In such an environment, land-related conflicts are common and have been previously analyzed in several studies, with a particular focus on Africa (Andre and Platteau 1998, Deininger and Castagnini 2004) and Latin America (Alston, Libecap,and Mueller 2005).
  • Political Geography: Africa, Brazil, Latin America
  • 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: R.W. Hafer
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article arises from two related research programs. One examines the relationship between financial development and economic growth. The basic conclusion from this work is that countries that experience greater financial development also experience faster rates of economic growth and higher levels of income per capita (King and Levine 1993a, 1993b; Levine and Zervos 1998; Rousseau and Wachtel 1998; Levine et al. 2000; and Levine 2003). Under this umbrella also are studies that test for the role of property rights and regulation on financial development. Shehzad and De Haan (2008) find that financial liberalization—a reduction in regulations—reduces the probability of a banking crisis and, therefore, promotes economic growth. Baier et al.(2012) find that countries with relatively low levels of regulation—more economic freedom—are less likely to experience a financial crisis in the near future (five years out) than countries with more regulation. Like De Haan et al. (2009), Baier et al. find that in the period immediately following a crisis there generally is a diminution of economic freedom that stems from increased regulation, portending slower economic growth in the future.
  • Author: John Merrifield, Nathan L. Gray
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: On April 22, 1998, the Children's Educational Opportunity Foundation announced the availability of CEO Horizon Scholarships to residents of the Edgewood Independent School District (EISD) in San Antonio, Texas. The CEO Foundation did not limit eligibility to students with proof of superior academic talent, so the scholarships were really privately funded tuition vouchers. As such, we shall refer to them as the Edgewood Voucher Program. The EVP was a working model of Milton Friedman's (1955, 1962) original idea for a universal voucher program, except that it was set to last only 10 years. This article analyzes the EVP's immediate economic development effects, including the impact on the property tax base, housing growth and values, and business formation. We begin with an overview of the EVP, review the existing literature, describe the benchmark for our impact estimates, and then discuss the estimates and their significance for universal tuition vouchers.
  • Topic: Development
  • Author: George Selgin
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: When the merits of a European Monetary Union were first being debated, many skeptics fell into one of two camps. The first camp consisted of “Keynesians” (for example, Eichengreen and Bayoumi 1997, Salvatore 1997) who, referring to the theory of optimal currency areas, doubted that Europe constituted such an area, and believed that the proposed monetary union would eventually fall victim to country-specific (“idiosyncratic”) shocks. Unemployment and other burdens stemming from such shocks would, these critics argued, eventually force the monetary authority to either abandon its commitment to price-level stability in order to offer relief to adversely affected members, or cause the members to abandon the union so as to be able to realign their exchange rates.
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Adrian Urbaczka, Roland Vaubel
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For a long time, the International Monetary Fund has been criticized for subsidizing its credits. According to Walter Bagehot (1873), a lender of last resort ought to “lend freely but at a penalty.” Otherwise moral hazard results (see Dreher and Vaubel 2004). Bakker and Schrijvers (2000) and the Saxton Report (2002) have presented estimates of the subsidy element in IMF lending. In this article, we present an improved and updated calculation. We also present evidence on another criticism of IMF policy: that it fails to enforce compliance with policy conditions. The IMF claims that it cancels its programs if debtor governments do not honor their policy commitments. We show that cancellations due to noncompliance tend to be followed by new programs very soon.
  • Author: Benjamin H. Friedman
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Republican Party at least has the decency not to get its civil libertarian supporters' hopes up. Bemused tolerance and the odd Ron Paul appearance are about all the encouragement they get. Democratic civil libertarians, by contrast, suffer from relevance. Like other interests large enough to matter in primary elections but loyal enough to betray later, they are seduced and then scorned, especially by presidents. Their disappointment is harsher because it is less expected.
  • Topic: War
  • Author: Richard L. Gordon
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Daniel B. Klein's fascinating exposition of the case for limited government argues that understanding of the complexity of knowledge and its use to coordinate human actions indicates the impossibility of successful interventions by governments. His basic point is that knowledge is not simply something that always can be purchased on the open market and readily employed. People may create the knowledge that they utilize, and it always must be interpreted properly. Intervention kills such initiatives.
  • Author: David Lampo
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It might seem odd that, in a time when political pundits routinely condemn the rampant if not unprecedented polarization in American politics, one writer would try to make the case that polarized politics is a good thing, but that is indeed what former Reagan advisor Jeffrey Bell attempts in The Case for Polarized Politics: Why America Needs Social Conservatism . His arguments to justify an outspoken social conservatism as necessary to both the success of the Republican Party and the long-term success of what he calls "American exceptionalism," however, fall short on several levels.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: J.A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The heavy debt burdens of Greece and other European welfare states are the result of profligate entitlement spending and a lack of fiscal discipline. Both explicit debt and massive unfunded liabilities in pay-as-you-go social welfare programs must be resolved if Europe is to achieve long-run prosperity.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • 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: Veronique de Rugy
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Austerity is a term used to describe debt-reduction policies, but it can mean radically different things. For some people, austerity means adopting a debt-reduction package dominated by tax increases. For others, it means adopting a package made mainly of spending restraint-including reforms of social programs. The lack of a distinction between the two meanings of the word-and hence, the distinction between two different debt-reduction policies-is unfortunate and could also explain the confusion over what is happening in Europe.
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Pascal Salin
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: A great number of European governments have decided on austerity policies to reduce their fiscal deficits and public debt. In order to evaluate such policies, it is necessary to analyze the present and past economic situation of European countries, and to recognize the important role that savings plays in understanding this economic situation and possible future developments. After examining the economic background of austerity policies and the role of savings, this article discusses the choice of different types of austerity policies and policy mixes.
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Mark Hallerberg
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Germany has a northern European welfare state. This means that social benefits are extensive compared not only to the American standards but compared to other European countries, such as Italy or Spain. In the early 2000s, both foreign observers and Germans themselves considered the country the “sick man of Europe.” Its firms seemed increasingly uncompetitive, due especially to its costly labor. Economic growth in this period was stagnant. This “exporting giant” even had a slight current account deficit.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Spain, Italy
  • Author: Juhan Parts
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Estonia has had a quick recovery from the recent recession and its economy is in better shape than before the crisis. It is now much leaner and significantly more capable of handling international shocks. After a sharp contraction, in which GDP contracted by over 14 percent in 2009, GDP growth rebounded quickly, growing at a rate of 3.1 percent in 2010 and 8.3 percent in 2011.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Estonia
  • Author: Pedro Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The ongoing crisis that so dramatically hit Spain in 2008 was at least in part caused by the countercyclical monetary policy the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank applied in the first years of the new century. Their artificially low interest rates must in part be responsible for the excessive leveraging in banks, businesses, and households. Their unwarranted use of monetary policy to foster growth has recoiled on them with a vengeance. Now central bankers and their political masters find that they cannot perform as expected. A constant feature of financial crises in the past two centuries, as Reinhart and Rogoff (2010) have noted, is that, when banks collapse, companies fail, and families go insolvent they all turn to the central bank and the government to bail them out. The authorities usually find it difficult to answer those anguished calls even when they have the power to print money, so that devaluations and write-offs ensue.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Spain
  • Author: J. R. Clark, Dwight R. Lee
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It should be obvious to even the casual observer that both markets and governments fail—neither comes close to achieving perfection. Externalities, both positive and negative, are the most common explanation for market failures. The undersupply of public goods, for example, is seen as a market failure, and is the direct result of a positive externality being generated when a person contributes to a public good which, by definition, benefits others whether they contribute or not. Similarly, excess pollution is seen as a market failure resulting from the negative externality of people imposing uncompensated costs on others by emitting pollutants into the environment. But externalities are just as commonly the result of government activity as they are market activity. For example, many government transfers are best seen as negative externalities motivated by the desire of politically influential groups to benefit at the expense of others.
  • 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: Daniel J. Mitchell
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: If you want a primer on fiscal policy issues that gives you an establishment perspective, David Wessel's Red Ink should be your cup of tea. If you thought the 1990 budget deal was a good thing and if you want something similar today, you should read Red Ink to have your views reinforced.
  • Author: Aaron Ross Powell
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Righteous Mind offers a comprehensive and intriguing answer to that age-old political question, "Why do so many people disagree with me?" After all, I believe what I believe because I think the evidence and arguments are convincing. Otherwise, I wouldn't believe it. So why do others disagree?
  • Author: John Samples
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: No one has yet written a detailed history of campaign finance regulation, even limited to the United States. In 1988, Robert E. Mutch published Campaigns, Congress, and Courts: The Making of Federal Campaign Finance Law. He then embarked on research seeking to fill out that story in the late 19th century. My own The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform combines public choice analysis with political theory in a way that historians might not recognize. Ray La Raja's excellent Small Change: Money, Political Parties, and Campaign Finance Reform Examines a larger historical tableau from a political science perspective. Paula Baker is apparently at work on a broader history of campaign finance and its regulation. This work began as a case study in that project and grew into a book. I look forward to the broader history, but I am happy to have this work.
  • Topic: Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This issue of the Cato Journal features the papers from Cato's 30th Annual Monetary Conference— Money, Markets, and Government: The Next 30 Years —which was held in Washington on November 15, 2012. After 30 years, it is well to recall F. A. Hayek's advice: “All those who wish to stop the drift toward increasing government control should concentrate their effort on monetary policy.”
  • Political Geography: Washington
  • 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: John B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The 30th anniversary of the Cato Institute's monetary conference series provides an excellent opportunity to take stock of what we have learned about monetary policy in the past 30 years and to draw lessons for the next 30 years.
  • Author: Charles I. Plosser
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The last five years have been an extraordinary time for the global economy and monetary policymakers. The financial crisis and the severe global recession that followed have tested our resolve, our patience, and our economic theories. To restore the health of ailing financial markets and economies, central banks have driven shortterm interest rates to essentially zero, expanded their balance sheets to unprecedented levels, and engaged in market interventions that have blurred the lines between monetary policy and fiscal policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Health
  • Author: Kevin Warsh
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve's independence is essential to the conduct of monetary policy. But while the Fed is independent within government, it is not independent of government. The grant of authority to the Fed comes from Congress, to which the Fed is ultimately accountable. In my view, the Fed was granted significant powers by Congress, but those powers were not unlimited. The grant of authority was constrained. So by my measure, the Fed is a powerful institution, but a bounded one.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: David Malpass
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article describes the Federal Reserve's monetary policy, examines its economic impact, and discusses possible exits. Federal Reserve policy is on the wrong course: it is harming economic growth, hurting savers, damaging markets, setting dangerous precedents and misallocating capital away from job-creating parts of the economy. The Fed's September 2012 policy change, in which it announced a third round of quantitative easing (QE3), was a major increase in the aggressiveness of monetary policy and, in my view, another drag on economic growth.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Author: Robert L. Hertzel
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Any effort to avoid future recessions must rest on an organized way to learn from the past. However, the absence of such efforts within central banks renders such learning problematic and makes likely the recurrence of episodes of recession and financial market turmoil. Critical to learning is the use by policymakers of models to evaluate the past performance of monetary policy. These models should not be the complicated, multiequation models favored by the forecasting departments of central banks. Rather, they should be simple models that require policymakers to take a stand on the basic issues in monetary economics: the nature of the price level (monetary or real) and how well the price system works to maintain output at potential (full employment). They should serve as a safeguard to the understandable tendency of central bankers to attribute economic disturbances exclusively to real shocks rather than monetary shocks.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Author: Jeffrey A. Miron
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The 2008 financial crisis and the 2007–09 recession have predictably spurred interest in how policy can avoid financial crises. A prior question, however, is whether policy should avoid financial crises. The answer might seem obvious. But I argue here that if policymakers focus on avoiding crises, they will generate undesired side effects and typically fail to avoid crises in any case.
  • Author: Allan H. Meltzer
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: On September 1, 1948, Allan Sproul, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, commented on Fed independence: I don't suppose that anyone would still argue that the central banking system should be independent of the Government of the country. The control which such a system exercises, over the volume and value of money is a right of Government and is exercised on behalf of Government, with powers delegated by the Government. But there is a distinction between independence from Government and independence from political influence in a narrower sense. The powers of the central banking system should not be a pawn of any group or faction or party, or even any particular administration, subject to political pressures and its own passing fiscal necessities [Letter to Robert R. Bowie, in Meltzer 2003: 738].
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr., Thomas F. Cargill
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve was founded in 1913 during the Wilson administration to end banking panics and depressions, and was part of the Progressive agenda for a more activist role of government (see Kolko 1963). By the 50th anniversary, the conventional wisdom was that the Fed's performance was overall satisfactory, especially after the Treasury-Federal Reserve Accord of 1951 that permitted independent monetary policy. While the decision to double reserve requirements in 1937 was judged a policy error, the Federal Reserve was not held responsible for the Great Depression.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: 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: Lawrence H. White
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: “Fragility” is the well-known property of being easily breakable, of failing under moderate stress. The opposite property is “antifragility,” a term coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2012a) and the title of his recent book. Taleb (2012b) defines antifragility as the property exhibited by “things that gain strength from stressors and get stronger from failure, like evolution.” An antifragile thing or system is stressloving. What doesn't kill it makes it stronger. We exercise, for example, because our muscles grow stronger from moderate stress. Robustness, an intermediate concept, is the property of being unaffected either way by moderate stresses. Taleb illustrates the threefold distinction this way: We stamp “handle with care” on a package containing something fragile; we needn't stamp any instructions on a package containing something robust, because it won't be affected by handling; but we would stamp “please handle roughly” on a package containing something antifragile, because such handling would make it emerge stronger.
  • 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: Harris Dellas
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The entry of Greece into the euro zone in 2001 was widely expected to mark a transformation in the country's economic destiny. During the decade of the 1980s, and for much of the 1990s, the economy had been saddled with double-digit inflation rates, double-digit fiscal deficits (as a percentage of GDP), large current-account imbalances, very low growth rates, and a series of exchange rate crises. Adoption of the euro—the value of which was underpinned by the monetary policy of the European Central Bank (ECB)—was expected to produce a low-inflation environment, contributing to lower nominal interest rates and longer economic horizons, thereby encouraging private investment and economic growth. The elimination of nominal exchange-rate fluctuations among the former currencies of members of the euro zone was expected to reduce exchange rate uncertainty and risk premia, lowering the costs of servicing the public sector debt, facilitating fiscal adjustment, and freeing resources for other uses.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Pedro Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The great hopes that surrounded the euro at its birth have failed to come true. It was intended to be a currency as sound as the deutschemark and also a symbol of European unity. It is now reeling under the blows of a prolonged financial crisis and creating discord among the members of the European Union. Clearly, the design of the new money was defective. What its flaws were has been generally misdiagnosed: I will suggest that even if euro- members had kept by the rules of the game the euro could not have worked as intended.
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Wolfgang Munchau
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It was one of the author's predictions in 1998 that the euro zone would end up teaching us more about economics compared to what economics could teach us about the euro zone. While many of the author's predictions of that year did not hold, including the forecast that the euro would challenge the dollar as the world's foremost reserve currency, this particular prediction ultimately turned out to be correct. A monetary union is a hybrid between a fixed exchange rate system and a unitary state, one that is fully captured neither with closed-economy macro models nor classical international macro models of fixed exchange rates.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jurgen Stark
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It was one of the author's predictions in 1998 that the euro zone would end up teaching us more about economics compared to what economics could teach us about the euro zone. While many of the author's predictions of that year did not hold, including the forecast that the euro would challenge the dollar as the world's foremost reserve currency, this particular prediction ultimately turned out to be correct. A monetary union is a hybrid between a fixed exchange rate system and a unitary state, one that is fully captured neither with closed-economy macro models nor classical international macro models of fixed exchange rates.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Eswar Prasad, Lei Ye
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Popular discussions about the prospects of China's currency, the renminbi, range from the view that it is on the threshold of becoming the dominant global reserve currency to the concern that rapid capital account opening poses serious risks for China. A number of recent academic studies have pointed to the renminbi's rising importance in the international monetary System, although these studies are divided on the renminbi's prospects of becoming a dominant global reserve currency (see Eichengreen 2011a, Subramanian 2011, Frankel 2012, and Yu 2012).
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Yukong Huang, Clare Lynch
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The last time a Chinese currency was used as an international medium of exchange was four centuries ago, when China's share of global GDP in PPP terms was nearly 30 percent (about twice its current level), the country was a major global trading power, and Chinese copper coins circulated throughout East Asia to India and even beyond (Horesh 2011). In the following centuries, silver dollars and paper bills replaced copper coins and China's share of external trade declined. Now, with China's return to the position of largest global trader and second-largest economy in the world, it is not surprising that discussion of internationalizing China's currency has resumed.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: China, East Asia
  • Author: Zhiwu Chen
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Since reforms started in 1978, China has made commendable progress in achieving capital freedom and individual liberty. Prior to 1978, private enterprises with more than eight employees were prohibited and there were no capital markets. Private entrepreneurs were labeled “Capitalist tails,” and political movements were launched frequently to “cut the capitalist tails.” For several decades, Chinese citizens could only obtain employment and economic means from government organizations and state-owned enterprises, which strictly limited individual liberty. Today there are more than 10 million privately owned enterprises, making up more than 80 percent of each year's employment growth. As a result of less regulation and more room for entrepreneurship, it is relatively easy to register and start a business. Public equity offering opportunities and bank financing are also increasingly available to private firms as well. Chinese, young and old, can choose among jobs provided by government organizations, SOEs, private businesses, and foreign-owned firms. As capital freedom has increased, the rise of the individual and liberty is one of the highlights achieved in China's development over the past 35 years.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: China