A Critical Appraisal of Network Unbundling

High-speed broadband networks are key to the growth of digital markets as well as most modern forms of communication, and have been subject to far-reaching regulation in many countries. In this piece, we’ll review the rationale behind a cornerstone of the prevailing regulatory paradigm: forced access to incumbent operators’ network infrastructure by alternative operators on … Continue reading A Critical Appraisal of Network Unbundling

Calculating the police against citizen homicide rate

by Edward Stringham We hear of high profile cases of police killings, but few look at the larger picture of how often American citizens are killed by police. What is the rate at which police kill citizens and how does that compare to other homicide rates? Although official statistics have historically been scant, we now … Continue reading Calculating the police against citizen homicide rate

The Blanchard Danger

by Roger Koppl Oliver Blanchard tells us “Where Danger Lurks”  in the macro-finance world. The big theme is nonlinearity, which is a profoundly conservative move: DSGE modeling is just fine and we don’t need to rethink it at all. We just need to add in some nonlinearities. Blanchard does not tell how to calibrate a … Continue reading The Blanchard Danger

Income Inequality Matters

by Roger Koppl Income inequality matters. Let me say that again so you know I meant it: Income inequality matters. This statement may be surprising coming from a self-described “Austrian” economist and a “liberal” in the good old-fashioned pro-market sense. It shouldn’t be. It should be one of our issues. The surprise should be that we … Continue reading Income Inequality Matters

Wisconsin Policy Lab

by Chidem Kurdas Paul Ryan is said to be influenced by Milton Friedman, Friedrich von Hayek and Ayn Rand. One might add that as the representative for Wisconsin's first congressional district, he is from a state that has often been in the vanguard of policy thinking. That he came up with specific proposals for Medicare and … Continue reading Wisconsin Policy Lab

Regulation Czar’s Net Effect

by Chidem Kurdas Cass Sunstein, the White House regulatory affairs chief, is going back to academia.  It is not clear why he chose this particular time to return to Harvard Law School, leaving behind what looked like an experiment to implement the notions he advocated. Has he made a difference as federal overseer of rulemaking? The record … Continue reading Regulation Czar’s Net Effect

Top Young Economists Consider Their Future

by Roger Koppl Ali Wyne of the big think  blog “Power Games”  recently posted an interesting set of comments on the theme “Empirics and Psychology: Eight of the World’s Top Young Economists Discuss Where Their Field Is Going.”  George Mason’s own Peter Leeson  was among the eight “top young economists” sharing their views. Over at … Continue reading Top Young Economists Consider Their Future

The Unfairness of Taxi Fares

by Mario Rizzo Some time ago I was accused by the noted economist and psychiatrist Professor Bradford DeLong of being a "psychopath" and "clinically crazy" because I suggested that people should not tip cab drivers in New York City. I do not intend to revisit that particular issue here. This time I would like to … Continue reading The Unfairness of Taxi Fares

Hundred Years of Bailouts

by Chidem Kurdas After all that’s been said and written about financial crises, it is rare to come across useful insights.  Financing Failure. A Century of Bailouts by Vern McKinley documents a major continuity with past policy making. He shows that policies intended to prop up failing companies are nothing new—the same basic pattern has recurred time … Continue reading Hundred Years of Bailouts

Is Justice Roberts a Big Player?

by Roger Koppl The Supreme Court upheld “Obamacare” because Chief Justice Roberts changed his mind. (It seems that “Obamacare” is no longer a pejorative.)  In this curious situation, a stalwart of the Federalist Society  has become a Big Player in healthcare markets. A Big Player is a powerful actor who uses discretion to influence a … Continue reading Is Justice Roberts a Big Player?

Remember Those Oil Speculators?

by Chidem Kurdas Less than two months ago, President Obama claimed that speculators were (or at least might be) artificially driving up the price of oil—a notion that some politician or pundit  brings up every time gasoline looks expensive. The idea fades when the market changes direction. Thus in recent weeks, economies worldwide took a … Continue reading Remember Those Oil Speculators?

Krugman on Banks and Romney

by Chidem Kurdas Regulation advocates seem to regard the JP Morgan loss as the best thing since sliced bread. Thus Paul Krugman gleefully bawls out Mitt Romney for refusing to see it as a sign for greater government intervention. Krugman repeats the by now well-known argument on banks, as a riff on “It’s a Wonderful … Continue reading Krugman on Banks and Romney

Should Banks Just Buy Treasuries?

by Chidem Kurdas There’s a widespread impression that the $2 billion-plus trading loss JP Morgan Chase announced a few days ago strengthens the case for more regulation of banks.  Below  Jerry O' Driscoll makes this argument more thoughtfully than I've seen any where else. Two basic facts are worth remembering. Fact number one is that in … Continue reading Should Banks Just Buy Treasuries?

DeLong, Friedman and Maximal Government

by Chidem Kurdas The case made for minimal government by Milton and Rose Friedman in their 1979 book, Free to Choose, has been debunked,  according to Berkeley professor Brad DeLong.  Basically, he avers that the Friedman program has been tried and failed. As a commentary on Friedman, this is outrageously misleading. But Mr. DeLong  provides … Continue reading DeLong, Friedman and Maximal Government

The Passions and the Interests in Forensic Science

by Roger Koppl A front-page article  in yesterday’s Washington Post underlines the importance of establishing a substantive defense right to expertise in the US. The article says, “Justice Department officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or … Continue reading The Passions and the Interests in Forensic Science

Big Bank Breakup or Tea Party?

by Chidem Kurdas We’ve been going back and forth on the economics of too-big-to-fail banks but paying less attention to the politics. The most recent ThinkMarkets broadside on banks is Jerry O’Driscoll’s post on the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas annual report. In part of the report, the Dallas Fed’s director of research Harvey Rosenblum argues … Continue reading Big Bank Breakup or Tea Party?

Oil Price Politics Implication

by Chidem Kurdas My previous post about government restrictions on oil and gasoline transportation drew comments saying prices are set in a world  market and the effect of United States policy is negligible. Numerous economic and geopolitical forces influence the price of oil, no question. That does not change the fact that the Jones Act … Continue reading Oil Price Politics Implication

Politics of Oil Prices

by Chidem Kurdas Oil from North Dakota is selling at a record discount, according to a March 1st news item in the local paper, the Bismarck Tribune.   By contrast, here in New York gasoline prices are near record highs. Between North Dakota and New York are thousands of miles but more crucially standing between us is … Continue reading Politics of Oil Prices

Big Bank Obesity Conundrum

by Chidem Kurdas Is the Federal Reserve a hotbed of trustbusters? Fed officials (as well as some academics) have been calling for forcible downsizing of big banks . “I am of the belief personally that the power of the five largest banks is too concentrated,” Dallas Federal Reserve Bank president Richard Fisher said a few days … Continue reading Big Bank Obesity Conundrum

Russian Lesson on Term Limits

by Chidem Kurdas The point of term limits is to prevent the buildup of political power by one person or group. In Russia’s ersatz version, Vladimir Putin merrily plays revolving door with his protégé Dmitry Medvedev. Mr. Putin may win the election on March 4th despite the persistent protests sparked by his latest round of musical chairs with … Continue reading Russian Lesson on Term Limits

M. Friedman Goes to Washington

by Chidem Kurdas Early in his career, long before he became a Nobel prizewinner and the household name for free market economist, Milton Friedman worked for the US Treasury. The following anecdote is from his 1998 memoir with his wife Rose, Two Lucky People.  This revealing example of how public officials operate illustrates, in Friedman’s words, … Continue reading M. Friedman Goes to Washington

President Obama’s State of Regulation

by Chidem Kurdas Barack Obama sounded a number of themes in his 2012 State of the Union Address this week, all underpinned by the proposition that socioeconomic ills can be solved by interventionist government in general and his administration in particular. Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, giving the Republican rebuttal, effectively replied to the main claims. He … Continue reading President Obama’s State of Regulation

Why Public Policy Is Inconsistent

by Chidem Kurdas Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JP Morgan Chase, says regulatory policy is working against economic recovery and as such is contradictory. His complaint is about the new bank rules, but in fact government actions in myriad areas are at odds with each other. Consistency does not appear to be an object in … Continue reading Why Public Policy Is Inconsistent

Menace to Savings and Small Businesses

by Chidem Kurdas As the old adage goes, be careful what you ask for, you might just get it. After the 2008 crisis it became fashionable to complain that too much trading is going on. There were calls in this and other countries to restrict financial transactions. And it happened. One example is the rule … Continue reading Menace to Savings and Small Businesses