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Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken

Ryan W. McMaken is the editor of Mises Daily and The Austrian. He has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado, and was the economist for the Colorado Division of Housing from 2009 to 2014.

Articles by Ryan McMaken

Jeff Sessions’s Drug-War Fanaticism Shows a Growing Gap Between DC and the States

2 days ago

In recent years, numerous states have been passing new reforms of the long-abused civil asset forfeiture in which police agencies seize private property without any due process. At least 11 states, plus the District of Columbia, have passed new reforms. Some reforms, such as those in New Mexico and Nebraska, prohibit asset forfeiture altogether in the absence of a criminal conviction. Other states have opted for a more incremental approach, and have settled for new mandates in which law enforcement agencies must publicly report what has been seized — with the intent of identifying abuse for possible additional future reforms. The Heritage Foundation has noted the significance of these reforms: The fact that these reforms have been adopted within the past three years is

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Money Supply Growth Falls Again, Dropping to 105-Month Low

8 days ago

2 hours agoRyan McMakenGrowth in the supply of US dollars fell again in May, this time to a 105-month low of 5.4 percent. The last time the money supply grew at a smaller rate was during September 2008 — at a rate of 5.2 percent. The money-supply metric used here — an "Austrian money supply" measure — is the metric developed by Murray Rothbard and Joseph Salerno, and is designed to provide a better measure than M2. The Mises Institute now offers regular updates on this metric and its growth.The "Austrian" measure of the money supply differs from M2 in that it includes treasury deposits at the Fed (and excludes short time deposits, traveler’s checks, and retail money funds). M2 growth also slowed in May, falling to 5.6 percent, a 20-month low. 

Money supply growth

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To Fix Healthcare, We Need to Repeal a Lot More than Obamacare

10 days ago

I’ve always been willing to accept a repeal of Obamacare that was less than perfect, and I’ve never subscribed to the idea that only a total and complete repeal of Obamacare should warrant my support. Even a small tax cut is better than no tax cut, and even a partial repeal of Obamacare is better than no repeal. But, there’s been little reason to celebrate the GOP’s effort at an Obamacare repeal. And now that the effort appears doomed, there seems to be little reason for prolonged lamentation. Indeed, right up until the apparent failure of the repeal effort this week. the whole affair has been marked by confusion, muddled messaging, and a clear lack of any direction beyond scoring some political points against the supporters of Barack Obama. The Senate version, for

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Even Partial Drug Legalization Goes a Long Way in Protecting Property Rights

11 days ago

Why Even Partial Legalization of Drugs Is a Good Thing The partial legalization of marijuana has not been quite ideal. Thanks to high regulatory burdens on the marijuana-production industry, limitations on production volume, and high taxes, black markets have persisted within those states that have adopted a variety of legalization measures. Perhaps most burdensome has been ongoing federal banking regulations that essentially prohibit marijuana producers from using commercial banking services. The resulting reliance on physical cash has led in many cases to more robbery and inefficiencies within the cannabis industry. Nevertheless, even partial legalization has brought at least some of the benefits that one would expect. Cannabis products are now subject to commercial

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Net Neutrality Strengthens Monopolies, Invites Corruption

11 days ago

When it imposed its net neutrality rules on the telecom industry, the FCC was fixing a problem that didn’t exist. While proponents of Net Neutrality have long claimed that the regulations are necessary to impose fairness for internet usage, access to the internet has only become more widespread and service today is far faster for users — including “ordinary” people — than it was twenty years ago. Nevertheless, when the FCC in recent months — now under pressure from the Trump Administration — announced that it may step back from net neutrality, supporters immediately began claiming that net neutrality was necessary to keep internet access affordable and "fair." In truth, net neutrality has never fostered fairness or better access for consumers, and has instead created

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Will Trump Be Less of a Spendthrift than His Republican Predecessors?

14 days ago

In the past here at mises.org, we’ve looked at several different ways of comparing government spending across presidential administrations. No matter how we look at it, we’re forced to conclude that Republican presidents cannot be counted on to spend less than Democratic presidents. In this analysis, for example, we found that over the past fifty years, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan were among the worst offenders, with Obama coming in behind third-placed Gerald Ford. 

(Explanation of graph is here.)On an average annual basis, we found Obama to be similar to G.H.W. Bush, with George W. Bush topping all other administration in terms of spending growth. In all cases, the Clinton administration showed up as one of the periods of most restrained spending.

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Today Janet Yellen Explained (Yet Again) Why Interest Rates Should Stay Low

16 days ago

4 hours agoRyan McMakenOn Tuesday, Fed Governor Lael Brainard downplayed past talk of numerous rate hikes from the federal reserve and suggested that he Fed may "not have much more" to do in terms of rate hikes. "In light of recent policy moves, I consider normalization of the federal funds rate to be well under way," Brainard said.Today, speaking before Congress, Janet Yellen built upon Brainard’s earlier comments, but simultaneously suggested that there will be "gradual rate hikes" over "the next few years,"  and hinting that many more rate hikes won’t be necessary because "the neutral rate is low by historical standards."Markets took this to mean — probably correctly — that the Fed is moving in a more dovish direction. 

The "Neutral Rate" Canard Note that both

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Abolish the ATF

18 days ago

Although Donald Trump portrayed himself as an anti-gun control candidate on the campaign trail, the president apparently has no problem with sending federal agents into Chicago to more fiercely enforce gun laws. The New York Times reported late last month that the Trump administration has sent in federal agencies to partner with local law enforcement in Chicago, in order to confiscate more guns:Anthony Riccio, the chief of the Police Department’s Bureau of Organized Crime, said the new team would “significantly help our efforts to trace and stop the flow of illegal guns.”The phrase "illegal guns" makes it sound like we’re only dealing with very sinister elements within society. But in Chicago, where gun control laws are among the most stringent in the country, the phrase

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The US Is Not “One Nation” — And it Never Was

22 days ago

Patrick Buchanan is an informative and interesting writer. On foreign policy, especially, he’s long been one of the most reasonable voices among high-level American pundits.When it comes to cultural matters, however, Buchanan has long held to a peculiar and empirically questionable version of American history in which the United States was once a mono-culture in which everyone was once happily united by "a common religion" a "common language" and a "common culture."Now, he’s at it again with his most recent column in which he correctly points out that the United States is culturally fractured, and speculates as to whether or not Thomas Jefferson’s call to "dissolve political bands" in the Declaration of Independence might be sound advice today.Buchanan is correct in noting

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We Don’t Need a Presidential Commission on Voter Fraud

22 days ago

A few months before the 2016 election, the Obama administration was claiming that the federal government needed to seize control of the election process because, according to CNN "Vladimir Putin’s hackers could wreak havoc" on the electoral process.Attempts at federalizing elections have long been a dream of the left, and the claim of Russian "hacking" of elections offered a convenient excuse for saying that states could no longer be allowed independence in the matter.Not to be outdone by the left’s imagined Russians behind every tree and farm wall, the Trump administration is now trying to come up with reasons of its own to justify federal meddling in elections. Sure that states everywhere are being overrun by voting illegal aliens (including, apparently,

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3 Things to Remember on Independence Day

25 days ago

It’s difficult to say what most Americans commemorate or celebrate on Independence Day nowadays. Many appear to focus on some vague notion of "America." Others even take to jingoism equating the United States government with the very notion of "freedom." Lost in all of this is the fact that the Declaration of Independence — the document we’re supposed to remember today — is a document that promotes secession, rebellion, and what the British at the time regarded as treason. On the other hand, those who do recall the radical nature of the Declaration often tend to romanticize the American Revolution in a way that is neither instructive nor helpful today. So, what should we remember about Independence Day, and what can it teach us? For starters, here are three things about

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Beware the Predictions of “Experts” Like Janet Yellen

25 days ago

[First published by Rare, July 1, 2017]Speaking in London, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen Tuesday predicted that the “the system is much safer and much sounder” and explained that the Federal Reserve is prepared to deal with numerous enormous shocks to the economy.In her conversation with Lord Nicholas Stern, Yellen also went on to list the reasons that, thanks to central bank intervention, there is unlikely to be another financial crisis “in our lifetimes.”For those who have lived through more than one business cycle, however, alarm bells tend to go off every time an economist, central banker or high-ranking government official declares that there’s little to no danger of economic turmoil in the near future.There is a long history of spectacularly bad predictions

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Getting Taxpayer-Funded Free Stuff Is not “Religious Liberty”

28 days ago

There seems to be some confusion among religious columnists as to what constitutes religious freedom and what does not. In a recent column for Crisis, Thomas Ascik claims that the US Supreme Court’s ruling inTrinity Lutheran v. Comer is a victory for "the free exercise of religion." The ruling essentially states that church organization can now receive government grants for amenities and activities that are not specifically religious activities. In the case of Trinity Lutheran specifically, the church had applied for a government grant to repave its playground with recycled automobile tires. The state of Missouri denied the grant to the church on the grounds that it was a religious organization. Now SCOTUS has ruled such exclusionary policies are unconstitutional. That’s

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Government Medicine: Court Declares Child Should Die Rather Than Receive Privately-Funded Health Care

29 days ago

In a government-controlled healthcare system, the state determines who can receive treatment and when. This has long been admitted. But, what is less often discussed is that once a patient finds himself within a state-run healthcare facility, the state may deny him treatment — even if privately funded. This was recently illustrated when Charlie Gard, a small child suffering from mitochondrial depletion syndrome, was denied privately-funded treament planned by his parents. According to the BBC:Chris Gard and Connie Yates lost their final legal bid to take their son to the US for treatment.Specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital believe Charlie has no chance of survival…European Court judges have now concluded it was most likely Charlie was "being exposed to continued

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Jim Grant Explains the Gold Standard

June 27, 2017

Earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal, James Grant explored the latest academic attack on the gold standard — this time in the form of One Nation Under Gold by financial journalist James Ledbetter.Not that the establishment economics profession needs another book trashing gold. Among the university- and government-employed PhDs who hand down their wisdom about economics from on high, few have anything but disdain for the yellow metal. RELATED: "The United States of Insolvency" — An Interview with James GrantGrant knows this all to well and notes: As if to clinch the case against gold — and, necessarily, the case for the modern-day status quo — Mr. Ledbetter writes: “Of forty economists teaching at America’s most prestigious universities — including many who’ve

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If We Want “Unity,” Government Must Become Weaker

June 23, 2017

Last week, a gunman opened fire on a group of Republican members of Congress. Letters sent by the gunman to his local newspaper suggest he was obsessed with Republican policies, and concluded that Donald Trump "Has Destroyed Our Democracy" [sic] and that "It’s Time to Destroy Trump and Co." In the wake of the attack, there have been the usual predictable calls for "unity." These calls, of course, fail to address a central reason why unity appears to be a problem, and why many feel the need to manufacture it where it does not exist. Fear of a "Foreign" MajorityIn the wake of the 2016 election, it was not uncommon to read in both the mainstream media, and in social media, predictions that with a Republican victory, a fascist police state would soon be bringing the hammer

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Our Lawless Central Bank

June 22, 2017

6 hours agoRyan McMakenThe economic arguments against central banks are numerous to say the least. Through the writings of Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard we have a wide variety of critiques that explain the many ways the central banks distort economies, cause booms and busts, punish savers, and chose winners and losers through monetary policy. But, even if confronted with these arguments, and one remains supportive of central banks, other non-economic arguments must still be addressed.For example, it is becoming increasing important — in our current age of "non-traditional" monetary policy — to take note of the fact that central banks, and especially the Federal Reserve, are essentially unrestrained by law. Economists themselves often defend this total unmooring from

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Will Our Grandchildren Work Only Four Hours Per Day?

June 21, 2017

Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma predicted this week that in 30 years, people will be working less than they do now. According to NBC: I think in the next 30 years, people only work four hours a day and maybe four days a week," Ma said. "My grandfather worked 16 hours a day in the farmland and [thought he was] very busy. We work eight hours, five days a week and think we are very busy.Only time will tell if Ma’s prediction will come true in terms of its time horizon and magnitude. But, if the next century follows the pattern of the previous 150 years, we could be looking at continued and significant reductions in total working hours. Some of the biggest gains are likely to occur in the so-called "developing" world, but even the wealthy West will continue

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Money Supply Growth Fell to a 104-Month Low in May

June 20, 2017

Last month, the money supply growth rate in the United States fell to a 104-month low, rising by 5.91 percent. This is the lowest growth rate recorded since July 2008 when the growth rate was 5.24 percent.Given the imprecise nature of these estimates, however, it is fair to say that the rate of growth is essentially unchanged since March, and for the past three months, money supply growth has been at eight-year lows. In March, we reported that money supply growth had fallen to a 103-month low. In April, the growth rate increased slightly to 6 percent, but fell again in May. The M2 measure also showed a downward turn in recent months, although not to the same extent as the "Austrian" measure. In May, however, M2 growth had moderated to the point of matching our money-supply

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Fed Raises Rates — Will Other Central Banks Follow?

June 19, 2017

8 hours agoRyan McMakenLast week, the Federal Reserve announced an increase in the Federal Funds rate to 1.25 percent. The last time the target rate reached so high was in September of 2008, when the rate was 2.0 percent. In October of that year, the target rate fell to 1.0 percent, and was moved down to 0.25 percent in December. It remained at 0.25 percent for the next 83 months. This week’s rate increase was the third increase since December 2016, when the Fed increased the rate from 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent. Compared to the last seven years, this policy looks hawkish by comparison. On the other hand, compared to the 1990s — which were at the time seen as an era of low rates — current policy remains remarkably accommodative. 

Other central banks, however,

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With Cuba Policy, Trump Strikes Another Blow Against Economic Freedom

June 16, 2017

One of the few good things President Obama did was partially liberalize the US government’s policy toward Cuba. While it should have gone much further than it did, the Obama administration expanded the types of travel and trade allowed with Cubans in Cuba. In the wake of these moves, American entrepreneurs responded immediately with new air service, cargo service, and a myriad of other services designed to provide support to American travelers and business people. The reason these services did not exist before, of course, was because the US government’s Cuba policy has been based on severe punishments inflicted on Americans who attempted to engage in trade with Cubans. As with any set of government regulations, Americans restrictions against Cuban trade relied on a federal

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Terry McAuliffe’s Fuzzy Math on Gun Homicides

June 15, 2017

Terry McAuliffe’s Wednesday press conference on the Alexandria shooting offers an instructive lesson on what passes for quantitative analysis among politicians. Asked about the shooting, in which as left-wing activist opened fire upon a group of GOP politicians, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe opined that the real problem is that there are "too many guns" in the United States, and that gun violence claims the lives of "93 million" Americans every day. He then restated the total a few minutes later, but when asked twice about this number by reporters, McAuliffe eventually decided he meant "93 individuals" per day.

Terry McAuliffe: ‘We Lose 93 Million Americans A Day to Gun Violence’

Video of Terry McAuliffe: 'We Lose 93 Million Americans A

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What If Taxpayers Could Choose if Taxes Went to the State Level or Federal Level?

June 15, 2017

In recent years, we’ve examined any number of ways of decentralizing the American political system. These step-by-step moves can include decentralizing the monetary system, decentralizing the military, decentralizing immigration policy, and decentralizing elections.Most recently, we looked at decentralizing the welfare state, and found that each US state is more than wealthy enough and big enough to run its own welfare state at the state level without any need of planning or centralization through Washington, DC. Whether or not one thinks a welfare state is a good or necessary thing, the fact remains the US government is not an essential part of the equation.One piece of information that stood out the state-level analysis of tax revenue: the amount of taxes collected by

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The Myth of Infrastructure Spending

June 13, 2017

Trump’s $1-trillion infrastructure spending plan continues to be one of his less controversial proposed policies. In Washington, and even among many in the general public, there is a consensus that government spending on more roads and bridges is always necessarily a slam dunk. This is stated matter-of-factly in a recent CNN article about the president’s plan: Infrastructure spending is a proven winner for the economy: It creates jobs, fuels growth and allows Americans to get from point A to B faster, making them more productive.This statement is not a quotation from any supporter of the the plan. The author of the article is simply stating what he believes to be an indisputable fact. The fact that statements like this are made in such a blasé way should not surprise

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Civil Asset Forfeiture: Another Stealth Tax

June 7, 2017

When you’re a government agency, asking for a tax increase is always a hassle. For the most part, taxpayers don’t like taxes, and if asked if they want to pay more, they’re likely to often say "no." Moreover, when public officials pass tax increases, they may face the wrath of taxpayers at the ballot box.For this reason, governments are always looking for ways to get revenue without having to use tax revenue. After all, if taxes are the government’s only source of revenue, this presents a problem. As noted by Ludwig von Mises in Omnipotent Government: The government has but one source of revenue — taxes. No taxation is legal without parliamentary consent. But if the government has other sources of income it can free itself from this control.One of these "other sources of

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Studying the Climate Doesn’t Make You an Expert on Economics and Politics

June 2, 2017

In response to the Trump administration’s announcement that it was pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, some of his critics declared that anyone who likes "science" would have supported the accord. Not surprisingly, Neil deGrasse Tyson rushed to declare that Trump supported the withdrawal because his administration "never learned what Science is or how and why it works." But what does "Science" (which Tyson capitalizes for some reason) have to do with it? We know that Tyson is of the opinion that there is global warming. We also know that many other physical scientists agree with him. But, it does not follow logically that agreeing with Tyson on the matter of climate change must necessarily mean supporting the Paris Climate Agreement.After all, the Paris Climate

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Why Do Half-Measures Work for Markets, But Not for Socialism?

May 31, 2017

Socialists have attempted many times to put their ideology into action. Socialism has been applied in the Soviet Union, Cuba, China (before Deng), North Korea, and by many other less-famous regimes.In each case, the result has been economic impoverishment and political authoritarianism.But the die-hard socialists refuse to give up. "Don’t judge communism based on these results, " we’re told. "Socialism has simply never really been tried."Socialism Doesn’t Work Unless It’s Pure SocialismIndeed, in a recent back-and-forth between John Stossel and Noam Chomsky, Chomsky denied that the Venezuelan regime is socialist at all: I never described Chavez’s state capitalist government as ‘socialist’ or even hinted at such an absurdity. It was quite remote from socialism. Private

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Manuel Noriega Was First in a Long Line of New “Hitlers”

May 31, 2017

By 1989, it had become apparent to all — everyone except the CIA, of course — that the Soviet economy, and thus the Soviet state was in very deep trouble. In November 1989, the Berlin Wall came down in the face of Soviet impotence. And, with the Cold-War corpse not even cold yet, the US used the newly apparent Soviet weakness as an opportunity to begin invading a variety of foreign countries. These included Iraq, Somalia, and the former Yugoslavia. But first on the list was Panama in December 1989. At the time, the Panamanian state was an authoritarian regime that stayed in power largely due to US support, and functioned as an American puppet state in Central America where Communists were often successful in overthrowing right-wing dictatorships. The US regime’s man in

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How 1989’s Invasion of Panama Set the Stage for 25 Years of Endless War

May 31, 2017

By 1989, it had become apparent to all — everyone except the CIA, of course — that the Soviet economy, and thus the Soviet state was in very deep trouble. In November 1989, the Berlin Wall came down in the face of Soviet impotence. And, with the Cold-War corpse not even cold yet, the US used the newly apparent Soviet weakness as an opportunity to begin invading a variety of foreign countries. These included Iraq, Somalia, and the former Yugoslavia. But first on the list was Panama in December 1989. At the time, the Panamanian state was an authoritarian regime that stayed in power largely due to US support, and functioned as an American puppet state in Central America where Communists were often successful in overthrowing right-wing dictatorships. The US regime’s man in

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Arizona’s Government Has Adopted New Pro-Gold Reforms

May 31, 2017

Last week in Arizona, Governor Ducey signed into law HB 2014, which removes all state-level taxation of gold and silver coins, and moves the state further toward treating gold and silver as simply another form of legal tender. By removing taxation, the legilsation facilitates the more widespread purchasing and selling of gold and silver both an a hedge against inflation and as a medium of exchange. In March, Ron Paul testified at the Arizona legislature in favor of the bill, and noted he considers the legislation as part of an effort to create more room for "competing currencies" against the dollar. The HB 2014 easily passed through floor votes of both the House and Senate, although it remained unclear whether or not the bill would be signed into law. Governor Doug Ducey

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