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“Secrecy or Silence with Her Finger on Her Mouth”

To challenge the Foucauldian legacy of Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon prison, scholars often highlight Bentham’s later writings on the democratic power of public opinion. In doing so, they reaffirm Bentham’s reputation as an unreserved proponent of transparency. To recover the limits of Bentham’s embrace of publicity, I examine the model of visibility exemplified by his designs for the Sotimion, a residence for unmarried, pregnant women. The Sotimion draws our attention to Bentham’s appreciation...

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Poland's Right-Wing Ruling Party Is Baiting the European Union

The European Union is in a standoff with Poland. The country’s Constitutional Tribunal, a court whose purpose is to ensure that the country’s laws are in compliance with its constitution, just gave a green light to the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) to disregard a top European court’s judgment asking Poland to rollback its recent reforms undermining the independence of the Polish judiciary. The ruling is calculated to portray the Tribunal as David bravely sticking up for its country’s...

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The Princeton School and the Zero Lower Bound

In the early 2000s, a small group of economists at Princeton University (including Paul Krugman and Ben Bernanke) provided insightful analysis for how to make monetary policy more effective when interest rates are near zero. In “The Princeton School and the Zero Lower Bound,” Scott Sumner shows how this school of thought began to influence Federal Reserve policy and how its key ideas relate to other recent policy models advocated by market monetarists and NeoFisherians. THE PRINCETON SCHOOL...

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DC Metro’s Derailment: Act Now, Don’t Wait

On Sunday night, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced it was pulling most of its trains out of circulation due to safety concerns. With just 40 trains left to serve the entire system, unsuspecting commuters were stranded on platforms and crammed into the few moving trains Monday morning. Even with many offices still offering generous work from home policies, this level of service is not enough to maintain downtown Washington, D.C., as a viable center for government and...

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No, Our Incorrigible Tribalism Is Not What's Driving Illiberalism Today

H omo sapiens have existed on the planet for about 250,000 years. But only in the last 250 have they lifted themselves out of mass poverty and experienced what Deirdre McCloskey, a brilliant economic historian, calls the Great Enrichment. This is the period when material abundance increased by 3,000 percent and large portions of humanity exited poverty, its default condition. “If the last 200,000 years of humanity were one year,” notes conservative pundit, Jonah Goldberg, in his incisive...

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Foundations and Microfoundations: Building Houses on Regulated Land

The most common land use regulations in the United States govern lot size and structural intensity. I specify a residential builder’s profit maximization problem that distinguishes between yard space and covered land and incorporates common regulations as constraints. The model yields a closed-form solution for the cost of minimum lot sizes and coverage ratios, which I estimate using tax appraisers’ data from two large Texas counties. Minimum lot size regulations usually bind, even though the...

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Peter Conti-Brown on the Fed Trading Scandal, the Fed Chair Nomination Process, and Central Bank Governance

Peter Conti-Brown is a legal scholar and financial historian at the University of Pennsylvania and is a nonresident fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution. Peter’s scholarship focuses on the legal and historical issues of the Federal Reserve system, and he rejoins Macro Musings to talk about the many facets of Fed governance. David and Peter specifically discuss the Federal Reserve’s recent trading scandal, the Fed Chair nomination process, the central bank’s role in fighting...

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Encouraging Local Governments to Lower Their Barriers to Housing Construction

Thank you, Chair Cleaver, Ranking Member Hill, and members of the subcommittee. I am Emily Hamilton, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where I am codirector of the Urbanity Project. My remarks today will focus on three points: Local zoning rules needlessly increase the cost of housing for millions of American households. A federal grant program targeted at the right localities can help alleviate these problems. A federal grant program can only succeed...

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