Revolution on Wall Street?

by Chidem Kurdas Protestors have “occupied” a square near Wall Street for weeks. Hundreds of them were arrested, some 700 while blocking the Brooklyn Bridge. The movement may be spreading to other American cities. At least one demonstrator says: “This is a revolution.” They complain of joblessness and the inequities of global capitalism, though the … Continue reading Revolution on Wall Street?

Dodd-Frank Starves Congo; Advocates Win

by Chidem Kurdas While I decided the financial regulation act Dodd-Frank is a gigantic dud after scanning its thousands of pages, I missed the bit on Congo that David Aronson brought to light in a NYT op-ed column this Monday. Activist-lobbyists apparently inserted into the act a requirement that public companies buying minerals from Congo show … Continue reading Dodd-Frank Starves Congo; Advocates Win

Spending Cuts and Politics of Bureaucracy

by Chidem Kurdas I just read The Politics of Bureaucracy by Gordon Tullock, one of the best books written on the behavior of bureaucrats. Although originally published in 1965, it remains very much relevant today, especially as the debt deal currently in Congress could bring spending caps on programs administered by numerous bureaucracies. These entities … Continue reading Spending Cuts and Politics of Bureaucracy

Japan Reveals Regulatory Trap

by Chidem Kurdas Once upon a time, people tried to explain the post-war “Japanese Miracle” of rapid growth. Then in the current century, the puzzle shifted to Japanese stagnation since 1990. The lesson from these two distinct phases of Japanese history is germane for current American policy. Chalmers Johnson’s influential book, MITI and the Japanese … Continue reading Japan Reveals Regulatory Trap

Why Dodd-Frank is Dud-Blarney

by Chidem Kurdas It is a shame that Christopher Dodd  did not become a lobbyist earlier, before he teamed up with Barney Frank to sponsor the Dodd-Frank Act. Mr. Dodd first helped set into motion a fast-expanding web of obscure bureaucratic dicta for almost all financial activity, then took a lucrative job as Hollywood lobbyist. … Continue reading Why Dodd-Frank is Dud-Blarney

Is Economics a Public Good? How Would We Know?

by Mario Rizzo What is the economic justification for using tax money to subsidize the production of economic research? The standard answer is that academic economists produce a public good. In other words they produce knowledge for which they do not charge and for which it is not feasible to exclude non-payers. Let’s accept this … Continue reading Is Economics a Public Good? How Would We Know?

Public Unions vs. the Real Underdog

by Chidem Kurdas Wisconsin governor Scott Walker successfully made the financial case to limit collective bargaining by public unions. Not only have the unions imposed an immense burden on taxpayers, present and future, but they create bureaucratic rigidities that cause dysfunction and, in financial crunches, layoffs of promising employees. Yet in recent weeks it has … Continue reading Public Unions vs. the Real Underdog

Egypt Best Case Scenario via Korea

By Young Back Choi and Chidem Kurdas Compared to the turmoil in the Middle East, South Korea appears to be an oasis of calm. But as recently as 20 or so years ago you could  still smell tear gas on the streets of Seoul. Violent demonstrations shook the city for decades—-making it look like Cairo … Continue reading Egypt Best Case Scenario via Korea

Voters’ Best Interest

by Chidem Kurdas Ronald Dworkin, a well-known legal scholar, describes last month’s election results as depressing and puzzling. In a commentary in the New York Review of Books, he asks, “Why do so many Americans insist on voting against their own best interests?”  The New York University law and philosophy professor is not the only … Continue reading Voters’ Best Interest

Friedman on Social Security Reform

by Chidem Kurdas This may be a good time to revisit Milton Friedman’s proposal for reforming all entitlement programs and social security, in one fell swoop. His idea goes back several decades but is no less powerful in its simplicity. A serious discussion on reform may now start with the Roadmap put forth by Wisconsin … Continue reading Friedman on Social Security Reform

Two Takes on Political Donations

by Chidem Kurdas The Wall Street Journal reports that the biggest campaign spender of 2010 is a public sector union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which lavished $87.5 million on helping Democrats. This single union outspent the US Chamber of Commerce, which came second with $75 million. Reading the WSJ article … Continue reading Two Takes on Political Donations

Equality Destroyed in the Name of Equality

by Chidem Kurdas Law and government should treat people equally. This old principle may seem obvious and firmly in place, but in fact it’s much violated. Instead, the focus is on income distribution. Thus Robert H Frank in the NYT points to the bad effects of income inequality – like people spending too much money … Continue reading Equality Destroyed in the Name of Equality

Constitutionalism: Point/Counter-Point

By Chidem Kurdas and Thomas McQuade In our previous post, Thomas argued that voter feedback is weak in constraining the exercise of legislative power. Chidem countered that the other fundamental constraint, the constitution, is therefore all-important. Commentators were divided, with cogent arguments pro and con. We continue this discussion. Chidem:  Constitutionalism is the idea of … Continue reading Constitutionalism: Point/Counter-Point

Understanding Politics: Point/Counter-Point

by Thomas McQuade and Chidem Kurdas Our previous post and the ensuing discussion raised points for and against the appropriateness of understanding markets as complex adaptive systems. We discuss here whether the same approach can say something useful about modern political systems, taking the US as the illustrative example. Thomas: I think it could be … Continue reading Understanding Politics: Point/Counter-Point

Lobbyist Job Creation Act

By Chidem Kurdas Happy Fourth of July! Don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but  the state of the Republic requires serious thought. Our government has managed to create endless opportunities, but not for ordinary people—only for political operators and influence peddlers, with the Obama Administration pushing some 4,500 pages of medical and financial regulation … Continue reading Lobbyist Job Creation Act

Grounding Oil Spill Politics

by Chidem Kurdas BP flounders, the Obama administration hastily reverses its deep-water oil drilling policy and bans what it previously wanted to expand and another regulator proves itself worse than useless. Better – or at least more realistic – decisions should be made about a valuable common resource like offshore oil. For that, we need … Continue reading Grounding Oil Spill Politics

What Oil Leak Politics Says

By Chidem Kurdas In the Obama administration’s script for passing around oil-spill blame, the drilling regulator Minerals Management Service shares the stage with chief villain BP. The disaster is said to have exposed the weakness of MMS, a problem the president has now tackled by appointing a new head for the agency. One can understand … Continue reading What Oil Leak Politics Says

Understanding Efficient Markets

By Chidem Kurdas Headline topics like derivatives are part of the larger issue of how markets function.  About this big question there’s been profound confusion in the past two years.  Peter Boettke's article in the Winter 2010 issue of the Independent Review clarifies the muddle. A particular mathematical interpretation of what an efficient market is … Continue reading Understanding Efficient Markets

European Bailout’s Scapegoats and the Future

by Chidem Kurdas Before the near-trillion-dollar bailout package for financially shaky euro-zone governments was announced, French president Nicolas Sarkozy hauled out the financial whipping boys yet again. He promised to “confront speculators mercilessly.” They would soon “know once and for all what lies in store for them,” he said. Presumably he meant that those betting on … Continue reading European Bailout’s Scapegoats and the Future