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  • Author: Alan Reynolds
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Estimates of the elasticity of taxable income (ETI) investigate how high‐​income taxpayers faced with changes in marginal tax rates respond in ways that reduce expected revenue from higher tax rates, or raise more than expected from lower tax rates. Diamond and Saez (2011) pioneered the use of a statistical formula, which Saez developed, to convert an ETI estimate into a revenue‐​maximizing (“socially optimal”) top tax rate. For the United States, they found that the optimal top rate was about 73 percent when combining the marginal tax rates on income, payrolls, and sales at the federal, state, and local levels. A related paper by Piketty, Saez, and Stantcheva (2014) concluded that, at the highest income levels, the ETI was so small that comparable top tax rates as high as 83 percent could maximize short‐​term revenues, supposedly without suppressing long‐​term economic growth. Such studies could be viewed as part of a larger effort to minimize any efficiency costs of distortive taxation while maximizing assumed revenue gains and redistributive benefits.
  • Topic: Economics, History, Tax Systems, High-Income People
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Isabella M. Pesavento
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Adoption, particularly adoption out of foster care, has not been well studied within the field of economics. Researchers may avoid this topic because the adoption market greatly deviates from a typical market, and the system and data collection are highly fragmented, with relatively little federal coordination. Rubin et al. (2007) and Thornberry et al. (1999) show that instability in foster care placements produces negative welfare outcomes, and Hansen (2006), Barth et al. (2006), and Zill (2011) demonstrate that adoption out of foster care is socially and financially beneficial. Yet, children waiting to be adopted out of foster care are in excess supply, which has been exacerbated in recent years. I hypothesize that this is, in part, due to misaligned incentives of government officials and the contracted foster care agencies. I show that earnings are prioritized over ensuring permanent child placement, which hinders the potential for adoption, and government oversight fails to correct such iniquities because of career interests.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Children, Incentives, Foster Care, Adoption
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Tanner Corley, Marcus M. Witcher
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In Arkansas, the barber profession has been regulated and licensed for more than 80 years, and until recently, the issue was mostly absent from the political debate. During a regular session of Arkansas’s 92nd General Assembly in 2019, however, state Sen. John Cooper presented a bill to “repeal the [1937] Arkansas Barber Law” and to “abolish the State Board of Barber Examiners” (Briggs 2019). The average Arkansan probably was not aware of the bill, but occupational licensing reformers saw this as a great opportunity for Arkansas to pave the way for other states to reform their own license laws. If Cooper’s bill had passed, Arkansas’s economy would have likely benefited (Timmons and Thornton 2010, 2018). By removing restrictive requirements to becoming a barber, the bill would have allowed more Arkansans to enter the profession. This reform would have ­provided people with more economic opportunities, increased competition, and benefited consumers.
  • Topic: Regulation, Business , Public Health, Licensing
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anna Bocharnikova
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article investigates the dynamics of individual economic well‐​being in Estonia and Finland over three periods: (1) 1923–1938, when both countries were similarly situated; (2) 1960–1988, during which Estonia was under Soviet control; and (3) 1992–2018, after Estonian independence. Economic well‐​being is calculated using the purchasing power of wages in terms of the affordability of a minimal food basket. The results show that, in 1938, the purchasing power of wages in Estonia was 4 percent lower than in Finland; in 1988, it was 42 percent lower; and, by 2018, the gap had fallen to 17 percent. Consequently, as measured by the purchasing power of wages, well‐​being in Estonia and Finland was similar before the Soviet occupation, widely diverged during Soviet rule, and converged after Estonian independence, with the transition from plan to market.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Politics, History, Culture
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland, Estonia
  • Author: Diego A. Diaz, Cristian Larroulet
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The number and impact of natural disasters are increasing because of climate change and more people living in urban areas (Sanderson and Sharma 2016). The mechanism is simple, at least when considering climatic events: higher temperatures lead to higher rates of water evaporation, which increases the chance of flooding events (Wallace et al. 2014; IPCC 2001). The number of hot days has increased and the number of cold days has decreased in land areas, with model projections indicating that extreme precipitation events will continue to increase, resulting in more floods and landslides. At the same time, mid‐​continental areas will get dryer, which will increase the chance of droughts and wildfires (Van Aalst 2006). The course of action taken by humanity in the next decades will likely play a pivotal role since extreme differences in projections are expected if global temperatures rise 2°C in comparison to 1.5 °C above preindustrial levels (Allen et al. 2019). What are the economic impacts of natural disasters? This question has been addressed to a large extent in the literature, but it still does not have a conclusive response. The seemingly natural reasoning that destruction cannot lead to a net benefit for society was explained almost two centuries ago by Bastiat (1850) in his famous broken window fallacy. A shopkeeper’s son, Bastiat relates, breaks a pane of glass in his father’s store. The father, angry due to the boy’s careless action, is offered consolation by the spectators, who claim that the event is positive for the economy since it provides labor to glaziers. While Bastiat acknowledges that the accident brings trade to the glazier since the shopkeeper has to replace the window, regarding the event as wealth‐​increasing conveys a narrow perspective. The shopkeeper ends up poorer since he cannot spend the same money elsewhere, and if the boy had not broken the window, then the labor and other materials that were used to repair the damage would have been used elsewhere, potentially making the tangible wealth of the community grow.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Natural Disasters, Crisis Management, Institutions, Urban
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Scott Lincicome
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Labor market and cultural disruptions in the United States are real and important, as is China’s current and unfortunate turn toward illiberalism and empire. But pretending today that there was a better trade policy choice in 2000—when Congress granted China “permanent normal trade relations” (PNTR) status and paved the way for broader engagement—is misguided. It assumes too much, ignores too much, and demands too much. Worse, it could lead to truly bad governance: increasing U.S. protectionism; forgiving the real and important failures of our policymakers, CEOs, and unions over the last two decades; and preventing a political consensus for real policy solutions. Indeed, that is happening now.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Markets, Bilateral Relations, Trade, Protectionism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kam Hon Chu
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In addition to foreign investment absorption, Hong Kong plays a pioneering role in the internationalization of the renminbi (RMB). Despite the lack of comprehensive statistics on the volume of offshore RMB transactions, Hong Kong is for sure one of the largest, if not the largest, global centers for offshore RMB businesses. According to the Triennial Central Bank Survey (BIS 2019), for instance, Hong Kong was the largest global offshore RMB foreign exchange market, with an average daily turnover of US$107.6 billion as of April 2019, considerably higher than the US$56.7 billion for London and the US$42.6 billion for Singapore.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Investment, Financial Development
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Hong Kong
  • Author: George S. Tavlas
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: During the fall of 2009, George Papandreou headed the ticket of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, known by its acronym PASOK, against the then‐​governing conservative party, New Democracy, in the Greek national elections. Papandreou ran on a platform that featured highly expansive fiscal spending. During a press conference on September 13, 2009, he was asked where he would find the money to fund his party’s spending proposals. His answer was that given in the above quotation, by which he meant that Greece had abundant fiscal space to increase government spending; he believed that tax revenues could be sharply raised through stricter enforcement of laws against tax evasion. On October 4, PASOK won a landslide electoral victory, garnering 43.9 percent of the popular vote, compared with 33.5 percent for the second‐​place, incumbent New Democracy party, with the result that Papandreou became Greece’s prime minister. In the following months, a sovereign‐​debt crisis erupted in Greece that, within a year, engulfed much of the euro area through contagion. In November 2011, Papandreou resigned the premiership, becoming the first Greek prime minister in almost 50 years to be forced out of office by his own cabinet. An article in the Financial Times, reporting on his ouster, stated: “George Papandreou will be remembered by Greeks with more than a trace of bitterness as the man who smilingly declared ‘the money’s there’ ” (Hope 2011). In the next Greek elections, held in June 2012, PASOK won only 12.3 percent of the vote.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy, Conservatism, Political Parties, Socialism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • Author: John A. Allison
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Covid‐​19 pandemic greatly increased the scope and power of the Federal Reserve. The Fed created a number of new emergency lending facilities, which allowed it to make off‐​balance sheet loans and buy the debt of corporations and municipalities through special purpose vehicles backstopped by the Treasury under the CARES Act. Meanwhile, the Fed’s large‐​scale asset purchase program, known as quantitative easing (QE), was put on steroids after the pandemic struck in March 2020. The Fed has been purchasing longer‐​term Treasuries and mortgage‐​backed securities amounting to $120 billion per month, pushing the size of its balance sheet to an astonishing $7 trillion.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy, Federal Reserve, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Diego Zuluaga
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: When the Libra Association first announced its plan to launch a private digital currency for domestic and cross‐​border payments — then consisting of a single token backed by a mix of stable fiat currencies — financial inclusion was a big part of its business case. With 1.7 billion people globally lacking a bank or mobile money account, Libra thought it was imperative for some of the world’s largest companies, including the leading social media platform, to join forces and bring cheap payments to the world’s “unbanked.” And while this project has faced a rocky reception from central bankers and regulators — for reasons good and bad — even they often frame the case for their own, public digital currencies (CBDCs) in terms of bringing cheap and fast electronic payments to the greatest possible number of people, as cash use and cash acceptance decline.
  • Topic: Finance, Banks, Inclusion , Digital Currency
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Charles W. Calomiris
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: What we use as our medium of exchange is subject to dramatic change over time, and sometimes bank regulation has accelerated such changes. The national banking system, founded in 1863, envisioned the creation of a uniform medium of exchange in the form of national bank notes, which replaced the preexisting system of state bank note issuance. But the creation of the national banking system soon resulted in the diminished importance of bank notes as a medium of exchange. Under the new system, state banks faced a prohibitive tax of 10 percent per year on any notes they issued, and national banks had to maintain collateral at the Treasury for their outstanding national bank notes equal to 111 percent of their outstanding notes, and also had to maintain an additional 5 percent in required government‐​currency (“greenback”) cash reserves on hand. That meant that if a bank wanted to make loans, it had to find an alternative to bank notes as a funding source for those loans. Deposits had been growing in importance leading up to the National Banking Act of 1863, but the act accelerated the growth of deposits markedly, and they became the primary funding vehicle for loans. As Comptroller Eckels remarked in 1896: “And thus it has come about that deposit taking is now the feature, and the issuing of circulating notes but the incident, in national banking, instead of, as in the early history of the system, the note‐​issuing function being the feature and deposit banking but the incident” (Eckels 1896: 565; emphasis added).
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Finance, Banks, Loans
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael J. Casey
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For all the upheaval of 2020, it’s perhaps not surprising that the 50‐​year anniversary of a major piece of financial legislation came and went with little fanfare. But the 1970 U.S. Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) deserves much scrutiny.1 In mandating that financial institutions maintain customer identity records and report illicit activity to government agencies, the BSA was a landmark statute by any measure. It paved the way to an ever‐​expanding system of international surveillance that’s a cornerstone of U.S. economic power.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Finance, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Dong He
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The globalized economy now moves at the speed of electrons — and the future of money is inexorably going digital, too. New forms of digital money, such as central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and so‐​called global stablecoins, are shaping the future of money and payments. CBDCs are a digital form of fiat currency issued by a central bank. Some central banks started exploring CBDCs a few years ago, and those explorations have gathered momentum since Facebook and its partners announced their intention to launch the Libra stablecoin in June 2019. Because the stablecoins issued by large technological companies or platforms (Big Techs) have the potential to be adopted by businesses and households everywhere, they are called “global stablecoins,” or GSCs, in shorthand.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Global Political Economy, Money, Currency, Trade
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Andolfatto
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The literature examining the question of central bank digital currency (CBDC) has grown immensely in a very short time. Much progress has been made since I first learned of the idea in a blogpost authored by J. P. Koning in 2014. That modest article soon led me to openly speculate on the merits of a central bank cryptocurrency in a talk I delivered at the International Workshop on P2P Financial Systems in Frankfurt (Andolfatto 2015). My audience, which consisted mainly of entrepreneurs, seemed to receive my talk with a polite mixture of bemusement and anxiety. Surely, I couldn’t be serious? To be honest, I’m not sure that I was. But then the threat of Facebook’s Libra came along, and central bankers around the world suddenly began to take the idea very seriously indeed.
  • Topic: Finance, Social Media, Central Bank, Currency, Digital Currency
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: George Selgin
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Various proposals for a central bank digital currency (CBDC) involve different technical solutions to as many distinct problems. My concern is with the monetary policy implications of those (e.g., Bordo and Levin 2019; Ricks 2020) that would allow anyone to place deposits in a Fed Master Account, directly or using ordinary banks as brokers.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy, Banks, Central Bank, Financial Stability, Digital Currency
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jesús Fernández‐​Villaverde
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The monetary arrangements of societies are the result of the interplay of technology and ideas. Technology determines, for example, which coins can be minted and at what cost. For centuries, minting small‐​denomination coinage was too costly to induce Western European governments to supply enough small change (Sargent and Velde 2002). Only the arrival of steam‐​driven presses fixed this problem (Doty 1998). Simultaneously, ideas about private property and the scope of government determined whether private entrepreneurs were allowed to compete with governments in the supply of small change (Selgin 2008). Technology and ideas about money engage dialectically. Technological advances shape our ideas about money by making new monetary arrangements feasible. Ideas about desirable outcomes direct innovators to develop new technologies.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Monetary Policy, Cryptocurrencies
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Caitlin Long
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Stablecoins are financial obligations issued on a blockchain. They are generally fully collateralized with either fiat currency deposits at a bank, or with short‐​term government bonds held at a custodian. They’re issued only by nonbanks, although FINMA in Switzerland does allow Swiss banks to issue Swiss franc–denominated stablecoins. Usually stablecoins do not pay interest, and they are designed to trade at par with the fiat currency. Because they are issued on a blockchain, they usually settle in minutes, with irreversibility, and — critically — they are “programmable,” which means users can build their own software applications to interact with them.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy, Banks, Digital Currency
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Martin Chorzempa
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Digital currency and fintech have been some of the most powerful forces for freedom and personal liberty in China for the past decade, but their future influence is uncertain. Starting as a disruptive force that gave Chinese unprecedented autonomy in their financial lives, connected either to global cryptocurrency networks or local tech ecosystems built by private firms, a new chapter is beginning. In this new era, one speech urging an emphasis on innovation instead of regulation can seemingly bring the full force of the Chinese state to bear onto a firm that once disrupted state banks with impunity. Technologies like blockchain first embraced by libertarians and cryptography enthusiasts as freeing money from dependence on the state look poised to become tools for governments to increase their ability to monitor and shape financial transactions. Meanwhile, disruptive fintech tools have become symbiotic with the major state banks, which will retain their role as the core of the financial system.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Finance, Digital Currency , Transactions
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Alex Gladstein
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The future of currency is digital. The majority of transactions made every day are already electronic and controlled by banks or tech companies. These payments are easily surveillable, confiscatable, and censorable. Physical cash still functions as an essential savings mechanism and privacy tool for millions of people worldwide. With cash, individuals can buy goods and services or save without sharing their identity with a third‐​party merchant or custodian. But as banknotes fade from daily use, the future of financial freedom and privacy comes into serious jeopardy.
  • Topic: Finance, Privacy, Freedom, Digital Currency , Cash
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jill Carlson
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Possessions, or property, have been reiterated as a human right over the course of the centuries since Locke first wrote — enshrined in everything from the U.S. Declaration of Independence to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights (1948: 217, A III). Nevertheless, executives, judiciaries, legislative bodies, and central banks around the world have continually broken their social contract on this front: not only failing to defend the natural rights of possessions and property, but often actively harming individuals’ ability to hold value and to freely transfer and exchange assets. Access to a free, open, and functional financial system is a fundamental human right. One that is continuously violated by states and policymakers globally.
  • Topic: Economics, Finance, Money, Economic Rights
  • Political Geography: South America, Venezuela
  • Author: Eswar S. Prasad
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: New financial technologies — including those underpinning cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin — herald broader access to the financial system, quicker and more easily verifiable settlement of transactions and payments, and lower transaction costs. Domestic and cross‐​border payment systems are on the threshold of major transformation, with significant gains in speed and lowering of transaction costs on the horizon. The efficiency gains in normal times from having decentralized payment and settlement systems needs to be balanced against their potential technological vulnerabilities and the repercussions of loss of confidence during periods of financial stress.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Finance, Central Bank, Digital Currency
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lawrence H. White
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Private commercial banks have been providing trusted money to the public for hundreds of years, in the form of banknotes (where allowed) and transferable deposit balances, as an integral part of their business model. Economically, money balances are a private good: they are rival in consumption (you and I can’t both simultaneously spend a given banknote or deposit balance) and excludable in supply (you and your bank can stop me from spending the funds in your wallet or account) (White 1999: 89). Accordingly, the market does not inherently fail to provide money efficiently.
  • Topic: Markets, Monetary Policy, Economy, State, Banks, Digital Currency
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Neha Narula
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: We often spend a lot of time talking about the regulatory aspects of what a digital currency might look like, or the economic aspects. But if we take a look at the largest companies, the most influential on our ways of life, they’re tech companies. Technology is incredibly important and influences what we can do with policy and what kinds of functionality we can even enable. So, what I hope to tell you today is a little bit about how I’m seeing the technology development of digital currency.
  • Topic: Development, Science and Technology, Monetary Policy, Digital Currency
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tobias Adrian, Tommaso Mancini-Griffoli
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: a card, waving a phone, or clicking a mouse. Or we might hand over notes and coins, though in many countries increasingly less often. Today’s world is characterized by a dual monetary system, involving privately issued money — by banks of all types, telecom companies, or specialized payment providers — built upon a foundation of publicly issued money — by central banks. While not perfect, this system offers significant advantages, including innovation and product diversity, mostly provided by the private sector, and stability and efficiency, ensured by the public sector. These objectives — innovation and diversity on the one hand, and stability and efficiency on the other — are related. More of one usually means less of the other. A tradeoff exists that countries — central banks especially — have to navigate. How much of the private sector to rely upon, versus how much to innovate themselves? Much depends on preferences, available technology, and the efficiency of regulation. So it is natural, when a new technology emerges, to ask how today’s dual monetary system will evolve. If digitalized cash — called central bank digital currency — does emerge, will it displace privately issued money or allow it to flourish? The first is always possible, by way of more stringent regulation. We argue that the second remains possible, by extending the logic of today’s dual monetary system. Importantly, central banks should not face a choice between either offering central bank digital currency, or encouraging the private sector to provide its own digital variant. The two can coincide and complement each other — to the extent central banks make certain design choices and refresh their regulatory frameworks.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy, Banks, Money, Digital Policy, Digital Currency
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jeb Hensarling, Phil Gramm, John B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Fed’s huge balance sheet allows it to engage in credit policy (the composition of the balance sheet is by definition credit policy), which inherently auto‐​resides in fiscal policy — but should auto‐​reside with Congress. This discussion, moderated by John B. Taylor, took place at the Cato Institute’s 38th Annual Monetary Conference on November 19, 2020. The transcript has been edited for publication.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy, Federal Reserve, Credit
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: A. Trevor Thrall, Erik Goepner
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Observers of American foreign policy have been worried for years about eroding public support for international engagement, especially in light of increasing public discontent after nearly two decades of military conflict since 9/11. Low support for international engagement and military intervention among younger Americans, in particular, has led some to worry that the age of American internationalism has passed. There is little agreement, however, about how serious the erosion of public support is and what its causes are. Relying on an analysis of seven decades of polling data, we argue that generational effects have slowly reshaped patterns of American foreign policy preferences. Since World War II, Americans have come of age during periods increasingly less conducive to support of military intervention, leading them to adopt worldviews increasingly at odds with those carried by older Americans. As a result, the United States is undergoing a slow motion changing of the guard, as older and more hawkish Americans die and are replaced by younger, less hawkish ones. These findings have important implications for the debate about the state of public support for American leadership of the liberal international order and the evolution of American foreign policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Engagement , International Order, Generation
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Scott Lincicome, Huan Zhu
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising U.S.-China tensions, American policymakers have again embraced “industrial policy.” Both President Biden and his predecessor, as well as legislators from both parties, have advocated a range of federal support for American manufacturers to fix perceived weaknesses in the U.S. economy and to counter China’s growing economic clout. These and other industrial policy advocates, however, routinely leave unanswered important questions about U.S. industrial policy’s efficacy and necessity: What is “Industrial Policy”? Advocates of “industrial policy” often fail to define the term, thus permitting them to ignore past failures and embrace false successes while preventing a legitimate assessment of industrial policies’ costs and benefits. Yet U.S. industrial policy’s history of debate and implementation establishes several requisite elements – elements that reveal most “industrial policy successes” not to be “industrial policy” at all. What are the common obstacles to effective U.S. industrial policy? Several obstacles have prevented U.S. industrial policies from generating better outcomes than the market. This includes legislators’ and bureaucrats’ inability to “pick winners” and efficiently allocate public resources (Hayek’s “Knowledge Problem”); factors inherent in the U.S. political system (Public Choice Theory); lack of discipline regarding scope, duration, and budgetary costs; interaction with other government policies that distort the market at issue; and substantial unseen costs. What “problem” will industrial policy solve? The most common problems purportedly solved by industrial policy proposals are less serious than advocates claim or unfixable via industrial policy. This includes allegations of widespread U.S. “deindustrialization” and a broader decline in American innovation; the disappearance of “good jobs”; the erosion of middle‐​class living standards; and the destruction of American communities. Do other countries’ industrial policies demand U.S. industrial policy? The experiences of other countries generally cannot justify U.S. industrial policy because countries have different economic and political systems. Regardless, industrial policy successes abroad – for example, in Japan, Korea and Taiwan – are exaggerated. Also, China’s economic growth and industrial policies do not justify similar U.S. policies, considering the market‐​based reasons for China’s rise, the Chinese policies’ immense costs, and the systemic challenges that could derail China’s future growth and geopolitical influence. These answers argue strongly against a new U.S. embrace of industrial policy. The United States undoubtedly faces economic and geopolitical challenges, including ones related to China, but the solution lies not in copying China’s top‐​down economic planning. Reality, in fact, argues much the opposite.
  • Topic: Government, Industrial Policy, Manufacturing, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Scott Lincicome
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Both the American left and right often use “national security” to justify sweeping proposals for new U.S. protectionism and industrial policy. “Free markets” and a lack of government support for the manufacturing sector are alleged to have crippled the U.S. defense industrial base’s ability to supply “essential” goods during war or other emergencies, thus imperiling national security and demanding a fundamental rethink of U.S. trade and manufacturing policy. The COVID-19 crisis and U.S.-China tensions have amplified these claims. This resurgent “security nationalism,” however, extends far beyond the limited theoretical scenarios in which national security might justify government action, and it suffers from several flaws. First, reports of the demise of the U.S. manufacturing sector are exaggerated. Although U.S. manufacturing sector employment and share of national economic output (gross domestic product) have declined, these data are mostly irrelevant to national security and reflect macroeconomic trends affecting many other countries. By contrast, the most relevant data—on the U.S. manufacturing sector’s output, exports, financial performance, and investment—show that the nation’s total productive capacity and most of the industries typically associated with “national security” are still expanding. Second, “security nationalism” assumes a need for broad and novel U.S. government interventions while ignoring the targeted federal policies intended to support the defense industrial base. In fact, many U.S. laws already authorize the federal government to support or protect discrete U.S. industries on national security grounds. Third, several of these laws and policies provide a cautionary tale regarding the inefficacy of certain core “security nationalist” priorities. Case studies of past government support for steel, shipbuilding, semiconductors, and machine tools show that security‐​related protectionism and industrial policy in the United States often undermines national security. Fourth, although the United States is not nearly as open (and thus allegedly “vulnerable”) to external shocks as claimed, global integration and trade openness often bolster U.S. national security by encouraging peace among trading nations or mitigating the impact of domestic shocks. Together, these points rebut the most common claims in support of “security nationalism” and show why skepticism of such initiatives is necessary when national security is involved. They also reveal market‐​oriented trade, immigration, tax, and regulatory policies that would generally benefit the U.S. economy while also supporting the defense industrial base and national security.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, National Security, COVID-19, Free Market, Deindustrialization
  • Political Geography: China, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Alex Nowrasteh
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: A cost‐​benefit analysis finds that the hazards posed by foreign‐​born spies are not large enough to warrant broad and costly actions such as a ban on travel and immigration from China, but they do warrant the continued exclusion of potential spies under current laws. Espionage poses a threat to national security and the private property rights of Americans. The government should address the threat of espionage in a manner whereby the benefits of government actions taken to reduce it outweigh the costs of those actions. To aid in that goal, this policy analysis presents the first combined database of all identified spies who targeted both the U.S. government and private organizations on U.S. soil. This analysis identifies 1,485 spies on American soil who, from 1990 through the end of 2019, conducted state or commercial espionage. Of those, 890 were foreign‐​born, 583 were native‐​born Americans, and 12 had unknown origins. The scale and scope of espionage have major implications for immigration policy, as a disproportionate number of the identified spies were foreign‐​born. Native‐​born Americans accounted for 39.3 percent of all spies, foreign‐​born spies accounted for 59.9 percent, and spies of unknown origins accounted for 0.8 percent. Spies who were born in China, Mexico, Iran, Taiwan, and Russia account for 34.7 percent of all spies. The chance that a native‐​born American committed espionage or an espionage‐​related crime and was identified was about 1 in 13.1 million per year from 1990 to 2019. The annual chance that a foreign‐​born person in the United States committed an espionage‐​related crime and was discovered doing so was about 1 in 2.2 million during that time. The government was the victim in 83.3 percent of espionage cases, firms were the victims of commercial espionage in 16.3 percent of the cases, and hospitals and universities were the victims of espionage in 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent of the cases, respectively. The federal government should continue to exclude foreign‐​born individuals from entering the United States if they pose a threat to the national security and private property rights of Americans through espionage. A cost‐​benefit analysis finds that the hazards posed by foreign‐​born spies are not large enough to warrant broad and costly actions such as a ban on travel and immigration from China, but they do warrant the continued exclusion of potential spies under current laws.
  • Topic: Crime, Immigration, Risk, Espionage
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Scott Lincicome, Inu Manak
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: With several Section 232 tariffs still in place, and the status of other investigations unclear, the law presents an early test for the Biden administration and a signal about its future trade policy plans. President Biden took office at the height of modern American protectionism. The trade policy legacy he inherited from the Trump administration puts the United States at a crossroads. Will Biden go down the problematic path of executive overreach like his predecessor, or will he forge a new path? We may not need to wait long to find out. In his first trade action, President Biden reinstated tariffs on aluminum from the United Arab Emirates under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which authorizes the president to impose tariffs when a certain product is “being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair national security.” Though infrequently used in the past, Section 232 was a favored trade tool of the Trump administration, which was responsible for nearly a quarter of all Section 232 investigations initiated since 1962. While Congress has constitutional authority over trade policy, Section 232 gives the president broad discretion to enact protectionist measures in the name of national security. Why is this law a problem? First, the statute’s lack of an objective definition of “national security” permits essentially anything to be considered a threat, regardless of the merits. Second, the law’s lack of detailed procedural requirements encouraged the Trump administration to cut corners in applying the law, thus breeding cronyism and confusion. Third, President Trump took advantage of the law’s ambiguity to shield key Section 232 findings from Congress and the public, undermining both transparency and accountability. The Trump administration’s abuse of the rarely used Section 232 has allowed the statute to become an excuse for blatant commercial protectionism, harming American companies and consumers and our security interests. It’s unclear whether the Biden administration will continue this troubling trend or seek reform. The best course of action would be the latter: Biden should avoid using Section 232 and support congressional efforts to rein in presidential power, thus ensuring an end to the calamitous episodes that were common during the Trump era.
  • Topic: National Security, Trade Policy, Protectionism
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Neal McCluskey
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In one year, COVID-19 contributed to the permanent closure of at least 132 mainly low‐​cost private schools. But that was better than some feared. As COVID-19 struck the United States in March 2020, sending the nation into lockdown, worry about the fate of private schools was high. These schools, which only survive if people can pay for them, seemed to face deep trouble. Many private schools have thin financial margins even in good economic times and rely not only on tuition but also on fundraisers, such as in‐​person auctions, to make ends meet. When the pandemic hit, many such events were canceled, and churches no longer met in person, threatening contributions that help support some private schools. Simultaneously, many private schooling families faced tighter finances, making private schooling less affordable. Finally, families that could still afford private schooling might have concluded that continuing to pay for education that was going to be online‐​only made little sense.
  • Topic: Education, COVID-19, Private Schools
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: John Mueller
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: China, even if it rises, does not present much of a security threat to the United States. Policymakers increasingly view China’s rapidly growing wealth as a threat. China currently ranks second, or perhaps even first, in the world in gross domestic product (although 78th in per capita GDP), and the fear is that China will acquire military prowess commensurate with its wealth and feel impelled to carry out undesirable military adventures. However, even if it continues to rise, China does not present much of a security threat to the United States. China does not harbor Hitler‐​style ambitions of extensive conquest, and the Chinese government depends on the world economy for development and the consequent acquiescence of the Chinese people. Armed conflict would be extremely—even overwhelmingly—costly to the country and, in particular, to the regime in charge. Indeed, there is a danger of making China into a threat by treating it as such and by engaging in so‐​called balancing efforts against it. Rather than rising to anything that could be conceived to be “dominance,” China could decline into substantial economic stagnation. It faces many problems, including endemic (and perhaps intractable) corruption, environmental devastation, slowing growth, a rapidly aging population, enormous overproduction, increasing debt, and restive minorities in its west and in Hong Kong. At a time when it should be liberalizing its economy, Xi Jinping’s China increasingly restricts speech and privileges control by the antiquated and kleptocratic Communist Party over economic growth. And entrenched elites are well placed to block reform. That said, China’s standard of living is now the highest in its history, and it’s very easy to envision conditions that are a great deal worse than life under a stable, if increasingly authoritarian, kleptocracy. As a result, the Chinese people may be willing to ride with, and ride out, economic stagnation should that come about—although this might be accompanied by increasing dismay and disgruntlement. In either case—rise or demise—there is little the United States or other countries can or should do to affect China’s economically foolish authoritarian drive except to issue declarations of disapproval and to deal more warily. As former ambassador Chas Freeman puts it, “There is no military answer to a grand strategy built on a non‐​violent expansion of commerce and navigation.” And Chinese leaders have plenty of problems to consume their attention. They scarcely need war or foreign military adventurism to enhance the mix. The problem is not so much that China is a threat but that it is deeply insecure. Policies of threat, balance, sanction, boycott, and critique are more likely to reinforce that condition than change it. The alternative is to wait, and to profit from China’s economic size to the degree possible, until someday China feels secure enough to reform itself.
  • Topic: Government, GDP, Geopolitics, Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Steve H. Hanke
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Monetary instability poses a threat to free societies. Indeed, currency instability, banking crises, soaring inflation, sovereign debt defaults, and economic booms and busts all have a common source: monetary instability. Furthermore, all these ills induced by monetary instability bring with them calls for policy changes, many of which threaten free societies. One who understood this simple fact was Karl Schiller, who was the German Finance Minister from 1966 until 1972. Schiller’s mantra was clear and uncompromising: “Stability is not everything, but without stability, everything is nothing” (Marsh 1992: 30). Well, Schiller’s mantra is my mantra. I offer three regime changes that would enhance the stability in what Jacques de Larosière (2014) has asserted is an international monetary “anti-system.” First, the U.S. dollar and the euro should be formally, loosely linked together. Second, most central banks in developing countries should be mothballed and replaced by currency boards. Third, private currency boards should be permitted to enter the international monetary sphere.
  • Topic: Debt, Foreign Exchange, Monetary Policy, Developing World, Inflation, Currency
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Clifford F. Thies, Christopher F. Baum
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: With the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was thought that major wars had become obsolete (Mueller 1989) and perhaps regional conflicts might be brought under control (Cederman, Gleditsch, and Wucherpfennig 2017). But, while the level of violence declined, the number of wars in the world appears to have reached a new steady state. A world that was once organized by East-West rivalry is now characterized by ethno-religious conflicts, as well as by spontaneously arising transnational terrorist organizations and criminal gangs. For various reasons, economists have become interested in investigating the causes and effects of war and other armed conflict (e.g., Coyne and Mathers 2011). This article uses a consistent measurement of these forms of violence across space and time to conduct a rigorous quantitative analysis of the effect of war on economic growth.
  • Topic: Cold War, War, History, Economic Growth, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael D Bordo, Mickey D. Levy
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The ratcheting up of tariffs and the Fed’s discretionary conduct of monetary policy are a toxic mix for economic performance. Escalating tariffs and President Trump’s erratic and unpredictable trade policy and threats are harming global economic performance, distorting monetary policy, and undermining the Fed’s credibility and independence. President Trump’s objectives to force China to open access to its markets for international trade, reduce capital controls, modify unfair treatment of intellectual property, and address cybersecurity issues and other U.S. national security issues are laudable goals with sizable benefits. However, the costs of escalating tariffs are mounting, and the tactic of relying exclusively on barriers to trade and protectionism is misguided and potentially dangerous. The economic costs to the United States so far have been relatively modest, dampening exports, industrial production, and business investment. However, the tariffs and policy uncertainties have had a significantly larger impact on China, accentuating its structural economic slowdown, and are disrupting and distorting global supply chains. This is harming other nations that have significant exposure to international trade and investment overseas, particularly Japan, South Korea, and Germany. As a result, global trade volumes and industrial production are falling. Weaker global growth is reflected in a combination of a reduction in aggregate demand and constraints on aggregate supply.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Economic Growth, Tariffs, Industry
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Europe, Asia, South Korea, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Simon Lester, Huan Zhu
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Donald Trump was a trade “hawk” long before he became president. In the late 1980s, he went on the Oprah Winfrey show and complained about Japan “beating the hell out of this country” on trade (Real Clear Politics 2019). As president, he has continued with the same rhetoric, using it against a wide range of U.S. trading partners, and he has followed it up with action (often in the form of tariffs). While many countries have found themselves threatened by Trump’s aggressive trade policy, his main focus has been China. As a result, the United States and China have been engaged in an escalating tariff, trade, and national security conflict since July 2018, when the first set of U.S. tariffs on China went into effect and China retaliated with tariffs of its own. In this article, we explore the U.S.-China economic conflict, from its origins to the trade war as it stands today. We then offer our thoughts on where this conflict is heading and when it might end.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Tariffs, Trade Wars, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: atching the frenzy surrounding Judy Shelton’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on February 13, one is led to believe that the gold standard is a “nutty” idea, for which no serious economist or monetary policymaker could possibly have a kind word (see U.S. Senate 2020). This article critiques that wholesale refutation of the gold standard. In recent years (as well as in the past), both serious economists and reputable monetary policymakers have recognized the benefits of a gold standard in reducing regime uncertainty and promoting monetary and social order. Whatever one may think of President Trump’s recent Fed picks, the gold standard itself deserves more respect than it’s been getting.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy, Federal Reserve, Finance, Gold Standard
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: J. Robert Subrick
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: After the Second World War, the entrepreneur virtually disappeared from economic analysis (Baumol 1968). This neglect followed from the emerging models of general equilibrium that formed one aspect of the core of economic theory. By assumption, the Walrasian auctioneer knew the appropriate prices necessary to equate quantity supplied with quantity demanded in each market. In addition, the auctioneer knew when and by how much to adjust prices when an exogenous factor changed such as income or production technology. Trade only occurred at equilibrium prices so that markets cleared. No market participant chose or changed prices; it occurred exogenously. Kenneth Arrow recognized the lack of real world mechanisms to determine and adjust prices in competitive markets. He identified a logical gap in the perfectly competitive model. He wrote that “there is no place for a rational decision with respect to prices as there is with respect to quantities” (Arrow 1959: 42). Prices exist independent of consumer and firm behavior. A complete model would have to provide a solution to the conundrum.
  • Topic: Markets, History, Entrepreneurship, Economy
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ryan H. Murphy, Colin O'Reilly
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Tyler Cowen (2020), in a controversial and widely discussed blog post, has argued that free economic institutions must be accompanied by state capacity to achieve maximal growth rates. He calls this “State Capacity Libertarianism,” which echoes positions he has posed previously (Cowen 2007, 2018). Besley and Persson (2011) can be perhaps seen as a direct predecessor. Criticisms immediately emerged, with Henderson (2020) arguing that Cowen’s specific proposals are in direct conflict with libertarianism, and with minor caveats, free economic institutions are already able to achieve the goals Cowen hopes to achieve with state capacity. Geloso and Salter (forthcoming) argue that the lack of examples of wealthy countries with weak states is due to survivorship bias, and they apply their argument to criticize Cowen (Geloso and Salter 2020). Caplan (2018), while not directly addressing State Capacity Libertarianism, argues that there is little reason to believe that the effects of state capacity are the result of strong states themselves, rather than the social and cultural factors that allowed a strong state to emerge in the first place. The purpose of this article is to put data to the question of the individual effects of state capacity and free economic institutions on economic performance, and the potential interaction between the two.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, State, Libertarianism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ted Galen Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the decades since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, wild swings have occurred in the way that American media outlets view that country. At most times, a herd mentality is evident, as a large percentage of news stories portray China in one particular fashion, although there always are some dissenters from the dominant narrative. The nature of that narrative sometimes shifts rapidly and dramatically, however. During some periods, the prevailing perspective has been extremely hostile, with nearly all accounts seeing the PRC as a monstrous oppressor domestically and an existential security threat to the United States. That was the case for more than two decades following the communist revolution, until Richard Nixon’s administration suddenly altered U.S. policy in 1971–1972, and Washington no longer treated the PRC as a rogue state.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Public Opinion, Media, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Simon Lester
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Most Americans will agree that the Chinese government has behaved badly in a number of ways, although they may not agree on exactly which Chinese government behavior is a problem. Perhaps it’s the treatment of ethnic or religious minorities, such as the Uighurs or Tibetans or Christians; maybe it’s the crackdown on protests in Hong Kong and failure to uphold the “one country, two systems” principle; or assertiveness in territorial disputes; or censorship; or protectionist trade practices; or intellectual property theft; or cyber‐​hacking; or spying; or most recently, being slow to disclose the emergence of the coronavirus and engaging in a propaganda war regarding who is at fault. It’s a long list, and everyone has their own priorities. But while there is loose agreement on the existence of a problem, there is great difficulty in coming up with an appropriate response. What can or should the United States government do about any of this? Is it possible to change the behavior of other governments? Is the U.S. government in a position to do it? Is it appropriate to do so?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Bilateral Relations, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Axel Kaiser
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Following the failed Marxist experiment of Chilean President Salvador Allende, a free‐​market revolution led by the so‐​called Chicago Boys in the 1970s and 1980s created the conditions necessary for the country to experience an “economic miracle” that captured worldwide attention.1 As Nobel laureate economist Gary Becker (1997) put it, Chile became “an economic role model for the whole underdeveloped world.” This performance, said Becker, “became still more impressive when the government was transformed into a democracy.” Along the same lines, Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman argued that the reforms introduced by the Chicago Boys “proved highly successful and were preserved intact when Chile finally returned to democracy in 1989” (Krugman 2008: 31). Indeed, from 1990 to 2010 a left‐​wing coalition called “Concertación” came to power. Despite having been comprised of opponents to the military dictatorship and by many former members of Salvador Allende’s government, Concertación kept in place the foundations of the free‐​market system. A pragmatic view prevailed, leading to the recognition and adoption of the economic legacy of the Pinochet years.
  • Topic: Economics, Reform, Neoliberalism, Ideology, Crisis Management, Transparency, Free Market
  • Political Geography: South America, Chile, United States of America
  • Author: Kerianne N. Lawson, Robert A. Lawson
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article examines 77 countries with the most significant economic liberalizations since 1970, as measured by changes in the Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) index. Measures of both the speed and comprehensiveness of the reforms are presented. Our empirical evidence suggests that faster reforming nations economically outperformed slower reformers. We do not find evidence that more comprehensive reforms, as opposed to more narrowly targeted reforms, had much of an impact on ensuing economic growth.
  • Topic: Economics, Reform, Economic Growth, Liberalization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Meg Tuszynski, Dean Stansel
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Some immigration opponents claim that immigrants import bad institutions and policies from their country of origin into their new home country. We argue just the opposite—namely, that immigrants are more likely to self‐​select into countries with better institutions than those in their home countries. Researchers have examined this issue in both a cross‐​country and within‐​country context. Their findings have been mixed. Although others have found small or nonexistent impacts of immigrants on state institutions, those papers assume that all immigrants are the same. Our approach is unique in that it divides immigrant populations in a variety of ways. We build on the previous literature that examines the relationship between immigration and institutions at the state level, where there are smaller inherent differences in economic institutions (compared to differences across countries). We do so by incorporating the regional diversity of immigrant populations, examining whether immigrants’ countries of origin matter for economic outcomes in their new home country. Controlling for the diversity of immigrant populations in a way that previous researchers have not done improves our ability to assess immigration opponents’ claims that immigrants from economically worse‐​off countries hurt U.S. economic institutions. We find virtually no evidence of an economically and statistically significant relationship between the levels of immigration we have experienced in recent decades and a decline in economic institutions in the United States, regardless of the region or economic conditions of recent immigrants’ home countries. The limited statistically significant evidence we do find is mixed and small in magnitude. Thus, one of the key rationales used to call for immigration restrictions is not supported by our findings.
  • Topic: Immigration, Institutions, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Diego Zuluaga
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Financial transactions taxes (FTTs) have become increasingly popular since the 2008 financial crisis. During the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race, FTTs featured prominently on the platforms of both moderate Michael Bloomberg and socialist Bernie Sanders. The likely nominee, Joe Biden, has also expressed support for an FTT, albeit without offering any details in his election platform.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis, Finance, Domestic politics, Tax Systems, Transactions
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Fredrik N. G. Anderson, Lars Jonung
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Interest rates declined in the wake of the 2007–2009 global financial crisis. They remained low for most of the 2010s, only rising modestly toward the end of the decade. In some European countries, interest rates even became negative. While limited to a few countries initially, the likelihood of more central banks following suit is growing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not least, the Federal Reserve System is under pressure to adopt a negative federal funds rate (Bernanke 2020; Lilley and Rogoff 2020).
  • Topic: Monetary Policy, Interest Rates, Central Bank
  • Political Geography: Europe, Sweden
  • Author: Esther L. George
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Iappreciate this opportunity to pay tribute to Marvin Goodfriend and his many contributions to the theory and practice of monetary policy. At the Kansas City Fed, we knew Marvin as a scholar and a good Federal Reserve colleague. Marvin also was a participant in a number of our Jackson Hole Economic Symposiums. As a Research Officer at the Richmond Fed, he attended the first symposium that we held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in 1982, where his work on “Discount Window Borrowing, Monetary Control, and the Post‐​October 6, 1979 Federal Reserve Operating Procedure” was widely cited.1 Thirty‐​four years later in 2016, as a professor at Carnegie Mellon, he presented a paper making the case for deeply negative interest rates as a policy tool that could breach the zero lower bound on nominal rates. He argued that “the zero interest bound encumbrance on monetary policy should be removed so that movements in the intertemporal terms of trade can be reflected fully in interest rate policy to sustain price stability and full employment with a minimum of inefficient and costly alternative policies” (Goodfriend 2016; 128; emphasis added).
  • Topic: Monetary Policy, Finance, Interest Rates, Credit
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Alex Nowrasteh, Andrew C. Forrester, Michelangelo Landgrave
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Donald J. Trump launched his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in June 2015 by comments on illegal immigrants and the crime they commit in the United States. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you,” he said. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.” A few weeks after Trump’s announcement, 32‐​year‐​old Kate Steinle was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant Jose Inez Garcıa Zarate in San Francisco, California. Although Zarate was later acquitted of all murder and manslaughter charges due to mistakes made by the prosecutor, his shooting of Steinle seemed to support Trump’s worry about illegal immigrants causing a crime spree and helped win him the election in 2016.
  • Topic: Crime, Immigration, Border Control
  • Political Geography: North America, Texas, United States of America
  • Author: Alex Nowrasteh, Andrew C. Forrester
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Freer immigration could potentially lead to trillions of dollars in additional annual global output. However, the movement of many more immigrants could produce negative externalities that swamp the benefits, particularly if immigrants undermine productivity in their new countries by bringing with them the institutions or cultures that are responsible for low productivity in their home countries. We examine this by seeing how immigrants affect state budgets — a proxy for the quality of economic institutions — between 1970 and 2010 in the United States. We find that larger immigrant shares of the population produce large reductions in the growth of real per capita tax revenue and outlays in the short run that moderate to smaller longer‐​term growth declines in both.
  • Topic: Immigration, Economy, Immigrants, Tax Systems, Institutions, Revenue Management
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar, Neeraj Kaushal
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Do historically isolated forest tribes need protection from modernization? Critics claim that modernization, especially through dams and mining, is disastrous for tribes and that tribespeople cannot handle commercial life, are easily duped, and end up destitute. Some modernization projects have fueled Maoist insurrections. However, other examples show that tribes can join mainstream society and prosper if empowered with property rights and civil rights.
  • Topic: Civil Rights, Modernization, Property, Tribes, Forest
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India