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Mercatus Studies in Political and Social Economy

1 day ago

About the Series
Political economy is a robust field of study that examines the economic and political institutions that shape our interactions with one another. Likewise, social economy focuses on the social interactions, networks, and communities that embody our daily lives. Together, these fields of study seek to understand the historical and contemporary world around us by examining market, political, and social institutions. Through these sectors of life, people come together to exchange goods and services, solve collective problems, and build communities to live better together.   Scholarship in this tradition is alive and thriving today. By using the lens of political and social economy, books in this series will examine complex social problems, the institutions that attempt to

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A Fed for Next Time: Ideas for a Crisis‐​Ready Central Bank

July 10, 2020

How Will the Fed Fight the Next Crisis?
In just a dozen years, the Federal Reserve has faced two severe crises. And twice it has responded by leaning heavily on emergency lending powers it seldom used before by improvising temporary lending programs and taking part in fiscal policy.
In the meantime, the Fed’s nonemergency lending facilities have hardly changed, and may well prove insufficient when the Fed faces its next crisis.
The implication of this is both obvious and ominous: while we still count on the Fed to deal with crises, we no longer know how it will deal with them. Instead of being predictable, the Fed’s crisis‐​prevention methods have become unpredictable–and controversial–adding to, instead of allaying, economic scrutiny.
Can we do better? Can we improve the Fed’s systematic

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A Fed for Next Time: Ideas for a Crisis-Ready Central Bank: Panel 3 Modernizing Liquidity Provision

July 7, 2020

Introductory Remarks
George Selgin: Good afternoon, everybody. And welcome to the joint Cato-Mercatus Conference, “A Fed for Next Time: Ideas for a Crisis-Ready Central Bank.” This conference is devoted to exploring possibilities for reforming the Fed, to better prepare it for future crises, while at the same time, protecting it from fiscal dominance, and importantly, protecting ourselves and our democracy from dominance by the Federal Reserve. Today’s session is on modernizing liquidity provision. And I’m very pleased to introduce its moderator to you, CNBC’s finance editor, Jeff Cox. Jeff, take it away.
Panel Discussion
Jeff Cox: Thank you, George, for your kind introduction. And I also want to thank the Cato Institute and the Mercatus Center for hosting this important conference, which

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A Fed for Next Time: Ideas for a Crisis‐​Ready Central Bank: Panel 2 Defining Fiscal Stimulus Duties

June 19, 2020

How Will the Fed Fight the Next Crisis?
In just a dozen years, the Federal Reserve has faced two severe crises. And twice it has responded by leaning heavily on emergency lending powers it seldom used before by improvising temporary lending programs and taking part in fiscal policy.
In the meantime, the Fed’s nonemergency lending facilities have hardly changed, and may well prove insufficient when the Fed faces its next crisis.
The implication of this is both obvious and ominous: while we still count on the Fed to deal with crises, we no longer know how it will deal with them. Instead of being predictable, the Fed’s crisis‐​prevention methods have become unpredictable–and controversial–adding to, instead of allaying, economic scrutiny.
Can we do better? Can we improve the Fed’s systematic

Read More »

A Fed for Next Time: Ideas for a Crisis‐​Ready Central Bank: Panel 1 Reforming Credit Policy

June 17, 2020

How Will the Fed Fight the Next Crisis?
In just a dozen years, the Federal Reserve has faced two severe crises. And twice it has responded by leaning heavily on emergency lending powers it seldom used before by improvising temporary lending programs and taking part in fiscal policy.
In the meantime, the Fed’s nonemergency lending facilities have hardly changed, and may well prove insufficient when the Fed faces its next crisis.
The implication of this is both obvious and ominous: while we still count on the Fed to deal with crises, we no longer know how it will deal with them. Instead of being predictable, the Fed’s crisis‐​prevention methods have become unpredictable–and controversial–adding to, instead of allaying, economic scrutiny.
Can we do better? Can we improve the Fed’s systematic

Read More »

A Fed for Next Time: Ideas for a Crisis‐​Ready Central Bank

June 17, 2020

How Will the Fed Fight the Next Crisis?
In just a dozen years, the Federal Reserve has faced two severe crises. And twice it has responded by leaning heavily on emergency lending powers it seldom used before by improvising temporary lending programs and taking part in fiscal policy.
In the meantime, the Fed’s nonemergency lending facilities have hardly changed, and may well prove insufficient when the Fed faces its next crisis.
The implication of this is both obvious and ominous: while we still count on the Fed to deal with crises, we no longer know how it will deal with them. Instead of being predictable, the Fed’s crisis‐​prevention methods have become unpredictable–and controversial–adding to, instead of allaying, economic scrutiny.
Can we do better? Can we improve the Fed’s systematic

Read More »

Why It’s So Hard for Biden to Pick a Running Mate

May 28, 2020

The candidate known for his gaffes topped himself when he said that anyone who had trouble choosing between him and Donald Trump for president “ain’t black.” Later, after Joe Biden’s advisors finished smacking their heads, the former vice president issued a groveling apology.
That was good enough for some black politicians and commentators. Take Donna Brazile, the Democratic Party’s interim chair in 2016. After the apology, she considered the issue over and done. CNN and NBC barely mentioned it. “Nothing to see here. Let’s move on.” Other black politicians and celebrities were less forgiving, though few said it disqualified him. Whether they were harsh or forgiving, all African-American commentators agreed on one thing: Democrats could not take black votes for granted this November.

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The Stance of Monetary Policy: The NGDP Gap

April 22, 2020

The Nominal Gross Domestic Product (NGDP) Gap is a benchmark measure created by the Mercatus Center to determine whether monetary policy is expansionary or contractionary. A neutral level of NGDP (the level at which NGDP growth is neither inflationary nor deflationary) is established by taking an average forecast of nominal income growth for a given quarter based off forecast for that period from the preceding 20 quarters. This forecast data is taken from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Survey of Professional Forecasters.
The NGDP gap measures the difference between this forecast and actual NGDP growth. If actual NGDP is below the neutral level, then monetary policy is contractionary. If actual NGDP is above the neutral level, then monetary policy is expansionary.

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Measuring The Stance of Monetary Policy: The NGDP Gap

April 22, 2020

The Nominal Gross Domestic Product (NGDP) Gap is a new benchmark measure created by the Mercatus Center to determine whether monetary policy is expansionary or contractionary.
In order to create this measure, a neutral level of NGDP (the level at which NGDP growth is neither inflationary nor deflationary) is established by taking an average forecast of nominal income growth for a given quarter based off forecast for that period from the preceding 20 quarters. This forecast data is taken from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Survey of Professional Forecasters.
The NGDP gap measures the difference between this forecast and actual NGDP growth. The NGDP Gap from 1997 to the present is illustrated by Figure 1. If actual NGDP is below the neutral level, then monetary policy is

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Jim Bianco on Policy Responses to the Coronavirus: Details, Implications, and Concerns Moving Forward

March 30, 2020

Jim Bianco, of Bianco Research joins Macro Musings to discuss the latest on the economic impact from the coronavirus. David and Jim discuss the details and implications of the $2 Trillion Relief bill, the possibility of higher inflation, renewed threats to Fed independence, and implications for the Eurozone.
Read the full episode transcript
Note: While transcripts are lightly edited, they are not rigorously proofed for accuracy. If you notice an error, please reach out to [email protected]
David Beckworth: Jim, welcome back to the show.
Jim Bianco: Thanks for having me.
Beckworth: Well, I wish it were under better circumstances, but I think you’re a great person to have on to continue our conversation about the implications of this virus. We’ve been doing a number of shows.

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Russ Roberts and Tyler Cowen on COVID-19

March 19, 2020

Tyler and Russ Roberts joined forces for a special livestreamed conversation on COVID-19, including how both are adjusting to social isolation, private versus public responses to the pandemic, the challenge of reforming scrambled organization capital, the implications for Trump’s reelection, appropriate fiscal and monetary responses, bailouts, innovation prizes, and more.
Note: This transcript has not been thoroughly checked for accuracy. If you notice an error, please email the team.
RUSS ROBERTS: Okay. Welcome, everybody. Today is March 18th, 2020 this is a special edition of EconTalk to be released more or less simultaneously with Conversations with Tyler. And that’s because my guest or co-conspirator in this conversation is long time EconTalk guest, Tyler Cowen of George Mason

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Government Responses to Crisis

March 17, 2020

When crises occur, citizens, media and policymakers alike expect government to respond and to take a leading role in recovery. Given the scale and scope of crises, whether natural (such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes), manmade (such as conflict and economic downturns), or often a combination of the two, governments are often seen as being in the best position to identify the problems, understand the circumstances, and direct action. They are also likely to be the entities that have adequate resources to devote to such large-scale efforts. Yet, governments are not spared from the effects of crises. They are composed of individuals who are impacted by disasters and face many of the same challenges in identifying needs, prioritizing action, and adjusting to changing circumstances. It

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Bottom-up Responses to Crisis

March 17, 2020

Crises occur in all societies across world, and can be natural (such as hurricanes, flooding, and earthquakes), man-made (such as wars and economic downturns), or, often, a combination of both (such as famines, the flooding of New Orleans in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina and subsequent levy failures, and the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011). Crises cause fatalities, injuries, and property damages as well as introduce uncertainty and challenges for individuals, societies, and polities. Yet, we see individuals and communities rebounding effectively from crises all the time. How do communities go about returning to normalcy and beginning again the mundane life of every day affairs?
This edited volume looks at bottom-up responses to crises. The chapters in this volume

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Lawrence H. White And David Beckworth On The Legacy Of Allan H. Meltzer

March 17, 2020

The Hayek Program Podcast includes audio from lectures, interviews, and discussions of scholars and visitors from the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Subscribe to the Hayek Program Podcast
Soundcloud | iTunes | Stitcher | Google Play

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CWT Live: John McWhorter

January 13, 2020

John McWhorter, a prominent linguist and host of Slate’s Lexicon Valley podcast, will join Tyler Cowen for a wide-ranging dialogue on a special live episode of Conversations with Tyler at George Mason University. Highly regarded as an academic and well-known for his political opinions and knowledge of race relations, Dr. McWhorter has been interviewed for National Public Radio, The Colbert Report, and Real Time with Bill Maher, as well as written regular columns for the New York Sun, The Root, The New York Daily News, The Daily Beast, and CNN.
He is an associate professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University where he teaches linguistics, American studies, philosophy, and music history and the author of several books such as The Power of Babel: A Natural

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Reflections on Allan H. Meltzer’s Contributions to Monetary Economics and Public Policy

October 2, 2019

Book Description
Allan H. Meltzer (1928–2017), a leading monetary economist of the twentieth century, is memorialized in eleven essays by prominent economists. Among his achievements, Meltzer transformed the field of central banking and dissected the economic disasters of the 1930s and the first decade of the 2000s as well as the recovery from high inflation in the early 1980s.
The first chapters focus on his landmark A History of the Federal Reserve, 1913–1986, explaining that the Fed’s biggest successes are tied to its adherence to classical monetary theory and also examining the monetarist counterrevolution. Next, the book turns to the monetary transmission mechanism and his close work with Karl Brunner on the Brunner-Meltzer Model; it argues that Meltzer’s understanding of monetary

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Gregg Gelzinis on Reforming FSOC and How to Limit Future Financial Crises

September 23, 2019

David Beckworth: Our guest today is Greg Gelzinis. Greg is a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress. Greg’s work focuses on financial institutions, financial markets, consumer finance policy, and financial regulation more generally. Greg joins us today to discuss these issues. Greg, welcome to the show.
While transcripts are lightly edited, they are not rigorously proofed for accuracy. If you notice an error, please reach out to [email protected]
Greg Gelzinis: Thanks for having me on.
Beckworth: Glad to have you on. You’ve done some interesting work. I had a chance to read some of your papers. I’m looking forward to our discussion today about financial regulation. I think financial regulation is one of these issues that is under most people’s radars. Many people

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Ostrom's Tensions

September 23, 2019

Elinor C. Ostrom won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009, with recognition for her path-breaking work on institutions organized to address common-pool resource settings. She and her collaborator and spouse, Vincent Ostrom, contested the scholarship of mainstream political economy, public administration, and public policy in their quest to understand how individuals resolve a variety of social dilemmas. Ostrom’s work challenged the belief that a system of governance based on expert public officials could perform better and should a priori be preferred to a system based on citizens’ self-governance. Like any great and productive scholar, her body of work includes tensions, flaws, and inconsistencies that must be confronted by scholars looking to engage, critique, and advance her distinctive

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The Need for Humility in Policymaking

September 12, 2019

Regulations impact a wide array of market and social activities that influence our daily lives. Regulations are attempts to correct perceived market failures, caused by information asymmetries, externalities, and principal-agent problems, and to provide public goods, which would otherwise be underprovided. Government actors are responsible for identifying these issues, weighing the costs and benefits of intervention, and designing and implementating regulations to improve society.Good regulations help mitigate issues in the economy without inciting new problems and without the costs exceeding the benefits of intervention. This requires intensive analysis and an awareness of the complexities of social life. Our society is complex and dynamic where people face knowledge and incentive

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Bonus Episode: Watch Party for the Fed’s Historic Interest Rate Cut

August 7, 2019

David Beckworth: Hey, Macro Musing listeners. This is a special bonus episode for all you die-hard fans out there. Last week the Federal Reserve made an historic change in policy by cutting interest rates for the first time since December, 2008. The Fed had been raising rates since 2015 so this is a major policy change and is expected by many to be the first of several more interest rate cuts this year. As part of this historic decision, our friends at Employ America organized a Fed watching party the day of the announcement in Washington DC. The party started just before the Federal Open Market Committee, which is the Fed’s decision making body for monetary policy announced its decision and continued through the press conference of Jay Powell.
While transcripts are lightly edited, they

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Bonus Episode: Watch Party for the Fed’s Historic Interest Rate Cut

August 7, 2019

David Beckworth: Hey, Macro Musing listeners. This is a special bonus episode for all you die-hard fans out there. Last week the Federal Reserve made an historic change in policy by cutting interest rates for the first time since December, 2008. The Fed had been raising rates since 2015 so this is a major policy change and is expected by many to be the first of several more interest rate cuts this year. As part of this historic decision, our friends at Employ America organized a Fed watching party the day of the announcement in Washington DC. The party started just before the Federal Open Market Committee, which is the Fed’s decision making body for monetary policy announced its decision and continued through the press conference of Jay Powell.
While transcripts are lightly edited, they

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Conversations with Tyler: Alain Bertaud

July 26, 2019

Conversations with Tyler is coming to New York City!
Join Tyler and special guest Alain Bertaud on September 9th for a live recording of the podcast. Have a drink, meet fellow fans, and hear the conversation Tyler wants to have with Alain Bertaud. Space is limited, so register today.
Doors open an hour before the show at 5pm. Please arrive early to grab a seat and enjoy a drink on us. Note that seating is first come, first served; we cannot guarantee everyone will get a seat. 
To receive notifications about this event, please sign up for the Conversations with Tyler email list here.
With five decades of urban planning expertise in forty cities across the world, Alain Bertaud believes that bridging the gap between economics and urban planning would immensely improve the welfare and

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Saving Social Security

June 19, 2019

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has produced a slideshow on social security reforms. Download the slides here.

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The Future of Work

March 29, 2019

Technological innovation is a driving factor of economic growth, that both disrupts current practices and creates new opportunities. For instance, it changes the structure, nature, and meaning of work in both positive ways (such as productivity gains, the development of remote work, etc.) and in more disruptive ways (such as how automation can lead to job loss, economy-wide shifts in industries and skills, etc.). As a society, we tend to both yearn for and caution against technological change and economists, policymakers, and the general public have an interest in how technology will impact our society.
This two-day conference, in partnership with the Niskanen Center, aims to explore the role of markets, civil society, and government in shaping the future of work and technology. It will

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James M. Buchanan

March 18, 2019

This book explores the academic contribution of James Buchanan, who received the Nobel Prize for economics in 1986. Buchanan’s receipt of the Prize is noteworthy because he was a maverick within the economics profession. In contrast to the preponderance of economists, Buchanan made little use of mathematics and no use of econometrics, preferring to used logic and language to insert his ideas into the scholarly community. Moreover, his ideas extended the domain of economic inquiry along many paths that numerous economists subsequently pursued. Buchanan’s scholarship brought economics and political science together under the rubric of public choice. He was also a prime figure in bringing economic theory into closer contact with moral and social philosophy. This volume includes essays

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James M. Buchanan

March 15, 2019

This book explores the academic contribution of James Buchanan, who received the Nobel Prize for economics in 1986. Buchanan’s receipt of the Prize is noteworthy because he was a maverick within the economics profession. In contrast to the preponderance of economists, Buchanan made little use of mathematics and no use of econometrics, preferring to used logic and language to insert his ideas into the scholarly community. Moreover, his ideas extended the domain of economic inquiry along many paths that numerous economists subsequently pursued. Buchanan’s scholarship brought economics and political science together under the rubric of public choice. He was also was a prime figure in bringing economic theory into closer contact with moral and social philosophy.This volume includes essays

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When More Competition Does More Good Than Harm in Medical Care and Insurance Markets

February 19, 2019

How to Improve the US Healthcare System: More Government or More Market?
Most Americans agree that their country’s system of healthcare should be better, more convenient, and less expensive. But they disagree about how to fix it. Should policymakers try more government intervention through regulation and higher taxes? Or should they move toward more reliance on market competition among hospitals, physicians, insurers, and drug companies to attract consumers? Mark V. Pauly addresses these issues in “Giving Competition in Medical Care and Health Insurance a Chance.”
The Power and Limits of Competition

Modest gains can come from modest changes. Federal and state governments could take immediate steps toward more competition in settings that currently are strongly prevented from being

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The Market Process

January 8, 2019

Read the preface to the Mercatus Center edition by Peter J. Boettke and David L. Prychitko.
The Market Process presents a series of important and innovative articles written by economists of the Austrian school. Covering the gamut of economic issues, including equilibrium theory, free banking, public choice, and the problems of contemporary social reform, the book is an ideal introduction to the diversity of contemporary Austrian economics and its innovative trajectory of research in the late 20th century.
Drawing upon essays published in the journal Market Process during the 1980s, this book reflects an extended dialogue over the value and limitations of Austrian economics. It makes available to a wider audience contributions by some of the leading figures in the field. At the cutting

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Tensions in Political Economy

October 25, 2018

About the Series
The Tensions in Political Economy series consists of edited volumes of original essays that explore the research programs of key scholars in the tradition of mainline economics. These volumes delve into the tensions in a scholar’s work, including real and apparent gaps, short-comings, and inconsistencies, in order to highlight and encourage contemporary research aimed at providing novel solutions to these tensions and bridging the gap between theory and practice. Through this series, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University aims to further mainline economics by ensuring that these critical examinations of the writings of key figures are made available to students and scholars.
Books in this Series
BUCHANAN’S TENSIONS: REEXAMINING THE POLITICAL ECONOMY AND PHILOSOPHY

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Festschrift: Reflecting on the Work of Bruce Yandle

October 23, 2018

The Hayek Program Podcast includes audio from lectures, interviews, and discussions of scholars and visitors from the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Subscribe to the Hayek Program Podcast
Soundcloud | iTunes | Stitcher | Google Play

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