Using monthly US data on project-grant awards in 2009 and 2010, we study which objectives presidents pursue in distributing resources. We also address theoretical and empirical ambiguities regarding when and which congressional districts receive distributive benefits. Our results show that core constituencies of the president’s party receive more federal funding in both presidential and congressional elections.
In a new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, scholars Anna Mills and Edward J. Timmons examine differences in licensing requirements state-to-state and over time to explore the effect that optician licensing has on practitioner earnings.
This paper combines insights from Ludwig von Mises about the mixed economy and Vilfredo Pareto about non-logical action within a social system to explore some intertemporal dynamics of an entangled system of political economy. Mises explained the inherent instability of the mixed economy. Pareto would agree from the perspective of logical action, but paid particular attention to the ineradicable presence of non-logical action in social systems.
NGDP stabilization is the latest of a set of rules that a good number of theorists have claimed could serve as an effective instrument for a central bank to follow in its promotion of macro-level stabilization. This claim is a mirage that is created by inaptly theorizing the relationship between macro-level variables and micro-level interactions.
This paper analyzes the “revolving door” phenomena in the military sector in the United States. The revolving door refers to the back-and-forth movement of personnel between the government and private sector. We trace the historical and economic reasons behind the emergence of this phenomenon and discuss the related perverse consequences, including the perpetuation of the permanent war economy which serves the narrow interests of select elites rather than the broad interests of citizens.
The attempt to exercise top-down government authority, even with the most noble of intentions, will ultimately face problems similar to those faced in all types of central planning. The limits of human reason and the planner’s ability to engage in rational constructivism apply as strongly abroad as they do domestically. This chapter lays out those limitations and encourages a note of caution in attempts to intervene abroad.
We conceive of political economy, historical and contemporary, as reflecting sometimes competing and other times complementary assessments of the appropriate role of the state in economic life grounded in alternative approaches to the paradox of government. We call these differing approaches and the conclusions they generate political-economic presumptions.
In a new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, scholar Alexander William Salter examines several different proposed rules that the Fed could follow. Salter provides a framework to help policymakers better understand how incentives and information can affect monetary policy and discusses discretion-based and rule-based approaches to monetary policy.
Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom is often read as a policy book and a political tract for its time. It is also often read as little more than a “slippery slope” argument, leading inevitably down a road from a free society to the gulag. In this paper I will try to counter both of those claims by explaining that Hayek’s book is part of a broader project dealing with the institutional infrastructure within which economic activity takes place. His argument, rather than being a slippery slope, is an imminent critique of the socialist program as advocated by British socialists, who were his primary target in the 1940s.
We find that union political contributions and collective bargaining are associated with higher incomes for state and local employees and with higher public employment, both across state and local government overall as well as within the education sector. We also find little to no evidence that union activity influences total spending.
Mercatus PhD Fellow Vipin Veetil, along with Akshaya Vijayalakshmi and Srikanth Viswanathan, address Amartya Sen's criticism of cash-transfer programs such as education vouchers in the Wall Street Journal.