Intergovernmental grant to gelato maker distorts market competition

June 30, 2015

Intergovernmental grants are grants that are given to one level of government by another e.g. federal to state/local or state to local. In addition to being used on public works and services they also subsidize the development of private goods. The Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) is a federally funded grant program that distributes […]

Read the full post →

Local land-use restrictions harm everyone

June 26, 2015

In a recent NBER working paper, authors Enrico Moretti and Chang-Tai Hsieh analyze how the growth of cities determines the growth of nations. They use data on 220 MSAs from 1964 – 2009 to estimate the contribution of each city to US national GDP growth. They compare what they call the accounting estimate to the […]

Read the full post →

Why regulations that require cabs to be painted the same color are counterproductive

June 12, 2015

A few weeks ago, my colleagues Chris Koopman, Adam Thierer and I filed a comment with the FTC on the sharing economy. The comment coincided with a workshop that the FTC held at which Adam was invited to speak. Our comment, our earlier paper (forthcoming in the Pepperdine Journal of Business Entrepreneurship and the Law), […]

Read the full post →

Rent seeking, illustrated by dinosaur hunters

June 5, 2015

I just made my first LearnLiberty video. To be more precise, the stellar talent at The Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University made the video and they let me tag along for the fun. It combines dinosaurs and rent-seeking. What could be more terrifying? Watch. Comment. And share!

Read the full post →

Institutions matter, state legislative committee edition

May 27, 2015

Last week, Mercatus published a new working paper that I coauthored with Pavel Yakovlev of Duquesne University. It addresses an understudied institutional difference between states. Some state legislative chambers allow one committee to write both spending and taxing bills while others separate these functions into two separate committees. This institutional difference first caught my eye […]

Read the full post →

State and local spending growth vs. GDP growth.

May 26, 2015

A few years ago, I produced a figure which showed inflation-adjusted state and local expenditures alongside inflation-adjusted private GDP. It’s been some time since I made that chart and so I thought I might revisit the question. This time around, I compared state and local expenditures with overall GDP, not just private GDP. The results […]

Read the full post →

The Wrath of CON

May 18, 2015

I made a movie. Okay, not really. My superb Mercatus colleagues actually made it. And they were kind enough to let me do the voice over. Here it is. If you like it, please share.

Read the full post →

No, bailouts are not something to celebrate

April 6, 2015

Robert Samuelson at the Washington Post is celebrating the auto bailout. Last December I had a piece in the Post in which I argued that “pro-business” policies like bailouts are actually bad for business. I offered five reasons: Pro-business policies undermine competition. They retard innovation They sucker workers into unsustainable careers. They encourage wasteful privilege […]

Read the full post →

Boom towns and bust policies

April 3, 2015

Stephen Walters, Professor of Economics at Loyola University Maryland, has written a new book called Boom Towns. I’ve written a review for the Library of Law and Liberty. Here is the beginning: Capital, in the 21st century, has a bad rap. Many say that because it is the source of “passive income,” it does nothing but […]

Read the full post →

Corporate welfare spending is not transparent

March 31, 2015

Over a century ago, the Italian political economist Amilcare Puviani suggested that policy makers have a strong incentive to obscure the cost of government. Known as “fiscal illusion,” the idea is that voters will be willing to spend more money on government if they think its costs is lower than it actually is. Fiscal illusion […]

Read the full post →