In Adam Smith’s seminal work An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), he rejects the basic tenets of mercantilism and argues that the division of labor and the market process it allows for are the phenomena behind economic growth. Yet, almost three centuries later, mercantilism as an ideology remains alive and well among the media, policymakers, and the academy. At the same time, the book’s fundamental question — Why are some nations rich while other nations are poor? — remains an active area of scholarship and public concern. In this video series, F. A…


Image: “Television Face Close-up” by martinhoward

By Kristen R. Collins

In a 2017 interview, former President Donald Trump bragged about the high ratings he earned for his appearances on Sunday morning shows: “It’s the highest for ‘Deface the Nation’ [‘Face the Nation’] since the World Trade Center. Since the World Trade Center came down.” The personalistic, made-for-TV aspects of Trump’s approach reached a new level of spectacle when his efforts to use disinformation to delegitimatize the electoral process culminated in the violent attack on the Capitol on January 6. Although the legitimately elected Biden Administration has since taken office, major features of Trump’s presidency are not…


By Kristen R. Collins

COVID-19 has disrupted daily life all over the world. Frustrated by the economic costs, inconvenience, and curtailment of the freedom of movement by broad social distancing measures, people have sought hope in intensive surveillance programs, beyond traditional contact-tracing strategies and dependent on the mass collection of geolocation or Bluetooth data from cellular devices. In response to strict lockdown measures this spring, for instance, Bruno Maçães argues, “The proper framing for the question is as a choice between the current restrictions and a new surveillance system.”[1] He supposes that sacrificing privacy protects our freedoms by allowing communities…


By Lawrence H. White

Much of my research over the years has concerned the operating characteristics of banking and monetary regimes (free banking with a specie standard) different from the one we currently have (central banking on a fiat standard). Here I want to discuss what we can expect from the current system in the months and years ahead. Many observers are understandably worried that the Federal Reserve System’s rapid expansion of the money supply during recent months, as part of an effort to dampen the COVID-19 recession, will soon bring high inflation. …


By Stefanie Haeffele, Jessica Carges, and Anne Hobson

Every facet of life across every jurisdiction or border has been affected by COVID-19, the pandemic currently sweeping the globe. As the pandemic unfolds in the United States, it has become clear that the federal response is insufficient. Instead, bottom-up efforts from individuals, businesses, state and local governments, and civil society are driving response and recovery. Coming back from crises takes an abundance of efforts at a variety of scales. …


By Jordan K. Lofthouse

The current COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of millions across the globe and has, at the time of this writing, killed over 300,000 people. In the United States alone, over 100,000 people have died, and that number continues to rise.[1] Unemployment across the country has skyrocketed, and many hospitals have struggled to keep up with COVID-19 patients. On Native American reservations, the pandemic has imposed strikingly high costs in terms of human lives and well-being. …


By Richard E. Wagner

What can economic theory contribute to our understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic? Upon being asked this question, most people would doubtlessly give answers ranging between little and nothing. These answers would reflect the intuition that COVID-19 mostly presents problems for public health, for which knowledge of epidemiology and related medical fields would be of far greater relevance than knowledge of economics. Sure, one can recognize that COVID-19 requires budgetary appropriations and entails regulatory impositions; while these are necessary to deal with the pandemic, they are secondary to public health all the same. This type of response…


By Paul Dragos Aligica

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the resilience and response capacities of the entire range of organizational forms that are defining the governance systems of advanced industrial democracies, from the local level to the supranational level. In this respect, the complex and economically well-endowed European system, based on the European Union’s (EU) governance architecture, has been a surprising failure. …


By Alice Calder and Stefanie Haeffele

Over 4.4 million Americans filed new unemployment claims during the week ending April 18th, for a total of over 26 million claims from business closures, furloughs, and layoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[1] Of those who still have their jobs, millions are either now teleworking to comply with physical distancing guidelines or are still going to work each day and possibly increasing their risk of getting the virus. The current pandemic is forcing people around the world to reassess how they think about work, its role in their lives, and how they contribute to…


By Stefanie Haeffele, Anne Hobson, and Virgil Henry Storr

The current pandemic is an ongoing global crisis. Policymakers around the world are grappling with how to respond to the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).[1] At the time of this writing, there have more than three million confirmed cases and more than 200,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19.[2]

In accord with the guidance from the World Health Organization, public officials have ordered, insisted, or encouraged their residents to practice physical distancing. As a result, schools from the kindergarten to university level have either closed or are…

F. A. Hayek Program

The F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in PPE at @mercatus encourages research on the institutional arrangements that support free & prosperous societies.

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