A new study published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University argues that, beginning late in the 19th century, the informal rules that govern fiscal policy began to reward policymakers for increasing spending—even for increasing it beyond the capacity of federal revenues, and therefore at the cost of chronic deficits. Despite numerous legislative attempts to constrain spending over the past 40 years, these informal rules have trumped formal constraints, and the deficit problem has marched steadily on.
We contribute to the post-crisis literature on macroeconomic stability by arguing that polycentric banking systems can better achieve stability than monocentric systems. Building on the theories of E. Ostrom, we engage the literature on free banking systems to show that these systems met the requirements of polycentric governance systems, and that the unintentional result of the underlying governance institutions was macroeconomic stability.
During times of economic crises, the public policy response is to abandon basic economic thinking and engage in ‘emergency economic’ policies. We explore how the current financial crisis was in part caused by previous emergency economic measures.
This paper critiques the Keynesian liquidity trap from an Austrian perspective. The liquidity trap theory argues that at a given interest rate the demand for money is horizontal, and interest rates cannot fall to stimulate investment. The major problem in the theory is that it concentrates on the loan interest rate instead of the price spread in the structure of production, called the natural rate, which as the Austrians have argued is the true interest rate determined by time preferences that the former is only a reflection of.
U.S. military contracting has been plagued by systematic corruption, fraud, and waste during both times of peace and war. We argue that these outcomes are the result of inherent features of the U.S. military sector which incentivize unproductive entrepreneurship.
A new paper for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University conducts an economically rigorous analysis of the problems posed by space debris and concludes that the problem is significantly more legally, institutionally, and economically complicated than some may believe.
A new study published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University finds that part of the problem can be traced to a flaw in the SSDI program’s administrative structure: even if an applicant is twice denied disability benefits by the Disability Determination Service, he or she can often obtain benefits by appealing the rejection to an administrative law judge (ALJ). This study analyzes ALJ decisions using case studies, economic literature, descriptive statistics, and econometric analysis.
Many scholars have worried that regulation deters entrepreneurship because larger firms can
overcome the costs of complying with regulations more easily than smaller firms. Using novel
data on the extent of US federal regulations by industry at the four-digit NAICS (North
American Industry Classification System) level, the RegData database of the Mercatus Center at
George Mason University, and data on firm births and employment from the Statistics of US
Businesses, we run fixed effects regressions to show that more-regulated industries experienced
fewer new firm births and slower employment growth in the period 1998 to 2011.
A new study published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University synthesizes psychologists’ research on intrinsic motivations with research on the motives of entrepreneurs and shows that entrepreneurs are often motivated by a desire to succeed in competition with others. Consumer choice in markets provides validation to entrepreneurs about who provides the “best” product, so government intervention that results in disruption of choices in markets can make entrepreneurs who care about mastery worse off and harm economic growth.
Rebounding after disasters like tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods can be daunting. Communities must have residents who can not only gain access to the resources that they need to rebuild but who can also overcome the collective action problem that characterizes post-disaster relief efforts.
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.
Rebounding after disasters like tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods can be daunting. Communities must have residents who can not only gain access to the resources that they need to rebuild but can overcome the collective action problem that characterizes post-disaster relief efforts.