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Christopher Coyne

Christopher Coyne

  • Associate Director, F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Christopher Coyne is associate director of the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and F. A. Harper Professor of Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He is also a professor of economics and director of graduate studies in the economics department at George Mason University. He specializes in Austrian economics, economic development, emerging democracies, postwar and disaster reconstruction, political economy, and social change.

Coyne is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of four books, including, most recently, Doing Bad by Doing Good: Why Humanitarian Action Fails. He is a prolific writer of articles for scholarly journals, has published numerous policy briefs, and also has written for the Daily Caller, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and others.

Coyne is the co–editor in chief of the Review of Austrian Economics, the coeditor of the Independent Review, and the book-review editor of Public Choice. He is a member of the Board of Scholars for the Virginia Institute for Public Policy.

Coyne was a Hayek Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and worked in the internal consulting services at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Coyne received his PhD in economics from George Mason University and his BS in business administration from Manhattan College.

View PDF of Curriculum Vitae.

Published Research

Christopher Coyne, Abigail Hall | Dec 2014
Recent scholarship regarding the idea of a U.S. Empire has raised serious questions as to the feasibility and desirability of imperial ambitions. This paper traces the debate over the net-benefit of empire back to the Classical economists. Adam Smith argued that the British Empire was a net cost while John Stuart Mill concluded the same empire was a net benefit. Contemporary arguments about a U.S. Empire map neatly to the divergent views of Smith and Mill. In addition to engaging in an exercise in history of thought, the authors use Smith’s political economy as a means of adjudicating between the different claims regarding the feasibility of empire.
Christopher Coyne, Abigail Hall, Patrick McLaughlin, Ann Zerkle | Dec 2014
This paper analyzes a hidden cost of war: the effect of the mass mobilization of reserve troops on the response times of domestic emergency services to accidents.
Christopher Coyne, Abigail Hall | Sep 2014
Coercive government actions that target another country often act like a boomerang, turning around and knocking down freedoms and liberties in the “throwing” nation. Two developments in the United States illustrate the boomerang effect: the rise of government surveillance and the growing militarization of the police.
Christopher Coyne, Abigail Hall | Jul 2014
This paper provides a political economy analysis of the evolution of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or ‘drones’ in the USA. Focus is placed on the interplay between the polity and private economic influences, and their impact on the trajectory of political, economic, and military outcomes.

Working Papers

Christopher Coyne, Thomas Duncan | Jan 10, 2015
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.
Christopher Coyne, Thomas Duncan | Jan 10, 2015
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.
Christopher Coyne | Aug 24, 2014
Economists often model national defense as a pure public good optimally provided by a benevolent and omnipotent "defense brain" to maximize social welfare. This paper critically considers five assumptions associated with this view.
Christopher Coyne, | May 16, 2014
The governments of American states often attempt to incentivize businesses to locate within their borders by offering targeted benefits to particular industries and companies. These benefits come in many forms, including business tax credits for investments, property tax abatements, and reductions in the sales tax. Despite good intentions, policymakers often overlook the unseen and unintended negative consequences of targeted-benefit policies. This paper analyzes two major downsides of these policies: (1) they lead to a misallocation of resources, and (2) they encourage rent-seeking and thus cronyism. We argue that these costs, which are often longer-term and not readily observable at the time the targeted benefits are granted, may very well outweigh any possible short-term economic benefits.


Christopher Coyne


Peter J. Boettke, Christopher Coyne, Peter Leeson | Dec 2014
An important question for any researcher who wishes to revisit the socialist calculation debate is: Why beat a dead horse? With the collapse of the communism in 1991, other than for historical purposes, there seems to be little value in rehashing the debate over socialism’s feasibility. Nevertheless, we believe that there are at least two very good reasons to consider this debate again.


Christopher Coyne | May 09, 2014
Chris Coyne discusses his new book Doing Bad by Doing Good: Why Humanitarian Action Fails on The Tom Woods Show.