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Hoover Daily Report items by Gary S. Becker

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January 21, 2014 | Wall Street Journal

Cash for Kidneys: The Case for a Market for Organs

December 8, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Minimum Wages, Employment, and Inequality

October 23, 2013 | Wall Street Journal

How 'Debt Ceilings' Increase Debt

April 7, 2013 | Wall Street Journal

Why We Support a Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax

March 24, 2013 | Wall Street Journal

A Better Strategy for Faster Growth

March 1, 2013 | Wall Street Journal

A Market Solution to Immigration Reform

December 16, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Unemployment Rate and Central Bank Policy

August 10, 2012 | Wall Street Journal

Why the Dismal Science Deserves Federal Funding

September 2, 2011 | Wall Street Journal

The Great Recession and Government Failure

When comparing the performance of markets to government, markets look pretty darn good...
April 4, 2011 | Wall Street Journal

Time for a Budget Game-Changer

Assurance that current tax levels will remain in place would provide an immediate stimulus. House Republican budget planners are on the right track...
September 29, 2010 | Wall Street Journal

China's Next Leap Forward

The jump from middle-income to rich status is much harder to achieve than the ascent from poverty. But there are plenty of reasons to believe China's growth prospects remain strong...
January 3, 2010 | Wall Street Journal

Uncertainty and the Slow Recovery

A recession is a terrible time to make major changes in the economic rules of the game. . . .

March 20, 2009 | Financial Times

Do not let the 'cure' destroy capitalism

Capitalism has been wounded by the global recession, which unfortunately will get worse before it gets better...

February 10, 2009 | Wall Street Journal

There's No Stimulus Free Lunch

How much will the stimulus package moving in Congress really stimulate the economy?...

February 9, 2009 | Financial Times

The Republicans’ no-bang mortgage plan

In the current economic environment, mortgage legislation should be judged by two criteria...

October 7, 2008 | Wall Street Journal

We're Not Headed for a Depression

In order to promote a much smoother functioning of the financial system, it is paramount to distinguish between the immediate steps needed to cope with the present crisis and the long-run reforms needed to reduce the likelihood of future crises...

March 22, 2008 | Wall Street Journal

Notable and Quotable

Hardly a day goes by during this housing crisis that the media does not report on families in foreclosure proceedings, or in arrears in repayment on mortgages that had close to zero down payment requirements and low "teaser" interest rates....

January 26, 2007 | Wall Street Journal

How to Make the Poor Poorer

The strong bipartisan support for increasing the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from the current $5.15 -- a 40% increase -- is a sad example of how interest-group politics and the public's ignorance of economics can combine to give us laws that manage to be both inefficient and inegalitarian...

September 1, 2006 | Wall Street Journal

Missing Children

The 20th century was the one with the greatest decline in death rates not only in rich countries but also throughout the world...


March 3, 2014 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Embargo of Cuba: Time to Go

February 23, 2014 | Becker-Posner Blog

Why Marijuana Should be Decriminalized

February 16, 2014 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Myth of Excess Enrollments in College

February 9, 2014 | Becker-Posner Blog

Are Government Bureaucracies Too Big?

February 2, 2014 | Becker-Posner Blog

Generational Mobility in the United States

January 26, 2014 | Becker-Posner Blog

Neighborhood Gerrymandering

January 12, 2014 | Becker-Posner Blog

Competition and the Efficiency of Bureaucracies

December 29, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Redistribution and the Well-Being of the Poor

December 22, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Consequences of Abandoning China’s One Child Policy

Welcome to the new Becker-Posner Blog, maintained by the University of Chicago Law School.
December 16, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

How to Control Entitlements, Especially Medicare

October 20, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is Opportunity Declining?

October 14, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Higher College Costs and its Consequences

September 29, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Can Government Programs be Cut Back?

September 16, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Capitalism’s Return from the Financial Crisis

September 8, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Bombing Syria?

September 2, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Dynamic Competition and Anti Trust Policy

August 25, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Information About Colleges and Student Loans

August 18, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Low Birth Rates: Causes, Consequences, and Remedies

August 11, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Education and the Growth of Poverty in United States

August 5, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Technological Change and Natural Resource Prices

July 21, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

On Reforming the Patent System

July 7, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

What Should a Carbon Tax Look Like?

July 3, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Senate Bill on Immigration Reform

June 23, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Medical Competition and the Cost of Medical Care

June 16, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Reform of the Tax Code

June 2, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Abenomics and Japan’s Stagnation

May 26, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

China’s Tilt Toward the Private Sector?

May 12, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Rise in College Tuition and Student Loans

May 5, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Alternatives to the War on Drugs

April 21, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Reforming Immigration Policy

March 31, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Business, Competition, and Corruption

March 24, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Decline in Illegal Immigration From Mexico

March 17, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Dismal Future for Workers With Few Skills

March 3, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Higher Education is Still a Very Good Investment

February 24, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Will the Sequester Be an Economic Disaster?

February 18, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is Raising the Minimum Wage a Good Idea?

February 11, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Contrived Inequality and Equality

February 3, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

Why I Favor Rules Over Discretion

January 20, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

On the Debt Ceiling

January 6, 2013 | Becker-Posner Blog

How Good is the Fiscal Agreement?

December 10, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is the Business Model Worse Than the Professional Model?

December 3, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Breakup of Countries: No Economic Disaster

November 25, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Online Courses and the Future of Higher Education

November 18, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Why People Vote and What That Implies

November 14, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

What to Do About Illegal Immigration?

November 4, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

The High Unemployment Rate and its Social Cost

October 7, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Will Long-Term Growth Slow Down?

September 23, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Good And Bad Teachers: How To Tell The Difference

July 29, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Time for China’s One-Child Policy to Go

July 22, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is Banking Unusually Corrupt?

July 10, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Worst Recovery Since World War II

June 18, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Controls Over Consumer Choices

Although [Mayor Bloomberg's] proposal makes little sense, and could even increase the consumption of these drinks, it does raise once again the question of how far governments should go in interfering with consumer choices?...
June 10, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is Further Quantitative Easing by the Fed Warranted?

I urge the Fed to resist this pressure mainly because further Fed easing under present circumstance will do little stimulating...
June 3, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Profits, Competition, and Social Welfare

The main reason to be concerned about the attacks on competitive capitalism is that it has delivered during the past 150 years so much to all strata’s of society, including the poor...
May 28, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is Student Debt Too Great?

I find it difficult to comprehend why sizable mortgages are accepted while there are political and media outcries over comparable student loans that are based on usually highly productive investments in human capital...
May 20, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Should Greece Exit the Euro Zone?

Countries run balance of payments deficits when their tradable goods are expensive on world markets because their producers are not sufficiently cost effective...
May 13, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

On Homosexual Marriage

The ideal solution would make all “marriages” contractual civil unions that would specify the rights of both parties. Every couple, including gay couples, would then be allowed to call their arrangement a marriage...
May 6, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Why has the Recovery in Employment in the US been so Slow?

No single factor explains this slowness, but a combination of several explains most of the slow recovery...
April 29, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Are the Incentives of Colleges Aligned With Social Welfare?

American universities are pretty successful in producing higher education that contributes effectively to social welfare, given the public policies that impinge on their behavior...
April 22, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Concern About The Decline in Manufacturing in the United States?

Manufacturing employment as a fraction of total employment has been declining for the past half century in the United States and the great majority of other developed countries...
April 8, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Restrictions on Campaign Contributions

Sharp restrictions on campaign contributions would make more sense if monetary contributions were the only major force that shapes who wins elections and the policies government officials support...
April 1, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Fracking and Self-Sufficiency in Gas and Oil

The cost of using fracking for natural gas extraction has become so competitive that most US natural gas production comes from fracking. As a result, the price of natural gas has fallen...
March 18, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Should K-12 Teachers Have Tenure?

The traditional case for tenure at the university level rests on two pillars...
March 11, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

On the Apparently Growing Class Divide and What Can Be Done About It

The two most attractive options appear to be greater emphasis on early childhood education and better schools, but much further research is necessary...
March 4, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Traditional Bookstores and Libraries are Doomed by the Internet...

One may lament the closing of many local bookstores, post offices, and movie theatres, and the sharp decline of giants in the newspaper business like the Washington Post, but the reasons for these changes are both clear and irreversible...
February 26, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is China’s Economic Future a Rosy One?

Starting with the opening of agriculture to private incentives in the late 1970s, China has experienced faster and more prolonged economic growth than any other country...
February 19, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Illegal Immigration

Beyond amnesty, what can be done to discourage further illegal immigration to America, and reduce the number of illegal immigrants who are already here?...
February 12, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is Capitalism in Crisis?

...[W]hile certain aspects of the economic organization of capitalist countries like the United States should be changed to reduce the chances of future severe recessions, it remains true that economies which are competitive and capitalistic have the best prospects for sizable long-run economic growth...
February 5, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Suicide and its Assistance

Just as modern societies do not prevent a person from marrying someone disliked by his parents, I see little reason why society should interfere on these ground with decisions about suicide...
January 29, 2012 | Becker-Posner Blog

Wealth and Income Taxes on the Rich

The Occupy Wall Street movement has not expressed clear goals, but it does want higher taxes on the “rich"...
December 4, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Does America Imprison Too Many People?

Imprisonment is the right policy for anyone committing heinous crimes like rape, assaults, robbery at gunpoint, and many other crimes where victims are badly harmed both physically and mentally. Imprisonment is the wrong punishment for crimes without victims...
November 27, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Euro Crisis and Euro Bonds

What can be done now to prevent a catastrophe in the EU that would plunge Europe into another recession, and hurt badly the world economy as well...?
November 20, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Occupy Wall Street Movement

The movement is losing ground not because the issues it raises are unimportant, but rather because the great majority of Americans and those in other countries with Occupy groups do not sympathize with most of the people doing the occupying...
November 13, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Has Structural Unemployment Become Important in the United States?

The persistently high unemployment rate in the United States during the Great Recession has led to claims that much of American unemployment is “structural”...
November 6, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Greece and the Euro

I will discuss the following two crucial questions about Greece and the euro: Should Greece have become part of the euro? No. Should Greece leave the euro? Not now, but probably in the future...
September 26, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Government Workers and Fiscal Problems

Public employees in Greece, Italy, in state and local governments of the United States, and government workers elsewhere are in the news in recent months not so much because of links to productivity, but rather because of connections to fiscal difficulties...
September 18, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Market Failure Compared to Government Failure

When an industry in the private sector is not performing efficiently or effectively, there is said to be “market failure”...The diagnosis of market failure may be accurate, but the call for government involvement may be naïve and inappropriate...
September 11, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

A Second Stimulus Package?

Boiled down to its essentials, the proposed Jobs Act is a second stimulus package since most of the spending is supposed to take place soon (before the end of 2012), while it will be financed over the next ten years in ways that are unclear...
September 4, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

In Trouble Once Again: What to do About US Post Office?

The United States postal system has a distinguished history since mail delivery is part of the Constitution, and Benjamin Franklin was the first Postmaster General. But during the past half century it has faced one financial crisis after another...
August 29, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Buffett and a Better Tax System

...I expressed sympathy with Warren Buffett’s concern that the share of the income paid in taxes by the very wealthy is considerably smaller than the shares paid by many middle class Americans. But I am troubled by what he proposes to do about it...
August 22, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Deserving and Undeserving Inequality

The best way to reduce these inequities is to substitute for the present tax mess an inclusive equal percentage tax on all incomes...
August 14, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog


Riots must be due to basic forces underlying human and social behavior since they have happened throughout history in all parts of the world...
August 7, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Challenge of Cyberwarfare and Cyberspying

In May 2010 the US military appointed its first four-star general to direct its defensive and offensive capabilities in cyber warfare...
August 1, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Immediate and Medium Term Debt and Deficit Problems

As Posner indicates, the US is facing an immediate debt problem, a medium term deficit problem, and long-term debt and deficit problems. We have discussed several times the long-term fiscal problems, so I will concentrate here on the shorter-term deficit-debt issues...
July 24, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Abysmal Recovery in Employment

Job recovery in America has been disturbingly slow during the two years since the official end of the 2007-09 Great Recession...
July 17, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Short and Long Term United States Fiscal Crises

The US faces a rather easy to manage short run fiscal crisis, and very challenging long-term fiscal and growth problems...
July 10, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Will Large-Scale Illegal Immigration from Mexico Come to an End?

The largest number of illegal immigrants enter the United States, especially from Mexico, but the number of Mexicans crossing the border illegally has apparently slowed to a trickle during the past several years...
July 3, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is There a Shortage of Primary Care Physicians?

...[S]ubstitution on the part of patients between family practitioners and specialists who can offer similar services, and arbitrage among medical students in deciding which fields to enter, prevents the development of particularly large “shortage” of general practice physicians...
June 28, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Fluctuations in Oil Prices, Speculation, and Strategic Reserves

The oil market is presently functioning very well, despite the high price of oil, so there is no good economic case for selling oil from strategic reserves at this time...
June 19, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Slow Economic Recovery

The best way to get American fiscal and other economic problems under control, and thereby “stimulate” the economy, is to institute growth oriented policies that would increase the long-term growth rate beyond the 3% average annual GDP growth rate of the past 130 years...
June 12, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

“Capture” of Regulators by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

When regulators are captured, much of what they do is motivated, consciously or not, by a desire to help the companies they are regulating, even when the social goals that the regulators should pursue are very different...
June 5, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Legacy Preferences Make a Lot of Sense, Up to a Point

...[L]egacy admission policies have been widely criticized as being unfair to non-legacy applicants who may have better records. Such a criticism has merit from a narrow perspective, but a legacy policy may in the longer run help both students and faculty...
May 30, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Another Tech Bubble in the Offing?

It is only a decade later, but a second dotcom boom has begun, and some early signs are surfacing of a possibly another bubble...
May 22, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Are There Sizable Benefits From Extending the Lives of the Old and Frail?

It might seem clear that research on extending the lives of frail persons over say age 80 does not produce much value to these persons or to society, but economic analysis of the “value of life” shows that this conclusion is far from obvious...
May 15, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Subsidies to Oil and Other Energy Sources

President Obama and members of Congress are calling for a sharp reduction in the substantial direct subsidies to American oil companies...
May 8, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Yes, the Earth Will Have Ample Resources for 10 Billion People

World population grew by almost 300% during the twentieth century; over the same time period, world per capita incomes grew by about 400%...
May 3, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Can Poor Countries Afford Democracy?

...[W]hile the effects of democracy on economic performance are controversial, democracies can have some economic advantages for poor as well as rich countries...
April 24, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

How Can Governments Help Consumers

Encouraging competition in [the airline] and other industries is the only really effective way to help the great majority of consumers, including ignorant and easily fooled consumers...
April 17, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

How to (and not to) Help Poor Families in Developing Countries Cope with Rising Food Prices

Food prices are on the move once again as the world economy recovers from the financial crisis...
April 10, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Budgetary Future

It can be improved, but if the main parts were adopted, it would be a big help to reining in long term medical expenses...
March 27, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Government Sector Unions

The main story of unions during the past half-century in the United States is the sharp decline in union membership to only 7% of private sector workers, and the equally sharp growth of union membership to 36% of all government employees...
March 20, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Economic Implications of the Japanese Earthquake Disaster and its Aftermath

Japan has certainly been unfortunate during the past couple of decades...
March 14, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Are Too Many Young People Going to College?

...America will benefit greatly from increasing the numbers of young men and women who go to and graduate from colleges and universities. To do that, however, will require improving the preparation received at K-12 levels...
March 6, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Middle East Uprisings, their Economies, and the World Economy

The revolutions and protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and other parts of the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) are the most important world development in the past 20 years...
February 27, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

How Beneficial is Widespread Medical Screening?

The United States along with many other rich countries encourages widespread so-called preventive screening for various diseases, including breast, prostate, and other cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney functioning, and many other serious, and even not so serious, diseases...
February 20, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

What Kind of Gun Control?

In this piece I will consider how successful gun control can be, and the best ways to implement any controls...
February 6, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Abrupt Change of Authoritarian Regimes

The Tunisian and Egyptian political eruptions were pretty much totally unexpected by the governments of the United States and of other countries, and by the vast majority of experts on Egypt and the Islamic world...
January 30, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Bad and Good Inequality

I believe the main issues related to judging inequality and its changes over time come down to deciding whether the inequality is of the good or bad kind...
January 23, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Overselling of Microfinance

[Microfinance] often does help lower poverty, especially of poor women, but it cannot ever make more than a small contribution to overcoming poverty...
January 17, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Case for Tuition Increases at Public Universities

The fiscal crisis in many states of the United States has led these states to cut their funding of public colleges and universities...
January 9, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Traditional Bookstores are Doomed

The traditional bookstore is doomed by e-readers and online sales of hard copy books...
January 2, 2011 | Becker-Posner Blog

Implications of International Comparisons of Student Performance

Despite all the qualifications, scores on standardized tests, like the PISA tests, are much more effective ways to compare student achievements in different countries than are average years of schooling and other measures of school years completed...
December 12, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

The American War on Drugs is Not Only an American Disaster

Whatever one’s views on the initial case for making drugs illegal, the cost has been tremendous, and in many aspects unanticipated...
December 6, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Sluggish US Employment Picture

Forecasters got a shock on Friday with the release of preliminary data that indicated the unemployment rate rose a little from 9.6% to 9.8% in November rather than remaining stable or even falling a little...
November 28, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Behavior of Catholics and Contraceptive Use

That the economic and other incentives in modern technologically advanced economies induced many Catholics to violate Church other family areas may have profound implications for the evolution of Church doctrines on these and related questions...
November 21, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Public Policies and Rising World Food Prices Once Again

From 2002 to 2008 the prices of many foods, including corn, wheat, and rice, increased by a lot...Food prices are marching up again mainly because the world economy is recovering from the crisis...
November 14, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Why I Do Not Like QE2

Other governments, and their central banks, have reacted vocally and negatively to the Federal Reserve’s plan for another round of quantitative easing...I believe that another large-scale Fed purchase of bonds is also against American interests...
November 7, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

An Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction Agenda for Congress and the President

...[T]he American people need an agenda to raise the growth rate of the American economy, and cut sharply actual and future fiscal deficits...What follows is a partial agenda to raise economic growth and reduce the long run fiscal deficit...
October 31, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Contrasts Between the US’s and UK’s Post-Recession Policies

So which approach will be more successful: the British one that will sharply reduce government spending and fiscal deficits, or the American one that believes these deficits are necessary, and perhaps even too small, to get this country out of the recession...?
October 24, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Will the Earnings of Women Overtake Those of Men?

Since earnings are on average strongly related to education levels, a natural issue to consider is the current and future effects of these trends in college enrollment and graduation rates on the earnings of women compared to men...
October 17, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Should Children Born in the United States Automatically Become Citizens?

Finding an effective way to curtail the inflow of illegal immigrants seems to be a far better way to deal with the issue of illegal immigrants than concentrating a lot of effort and opposition on trying to obtain a constitutional amendment...
October 10, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Democracy or Autocracy: Which is Better for Economic Growth?

The Economist in its October 2-8 issue has a cover page with the title: “How India’s growth will outpace China’s”. One of the main reasons they give for this claim in their leader on this topic is that India is democratic while China is autocratic...
October 3, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Incentives to Teachers and Students

School vouchers, and especially the charter school movement, is bringing competition to the traditional neighborhood school. No longer can public schools automatically have a captive audience of all the school age children in their neighborhood...
September 5, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Higher Education and Technological Advances as Countries Develop

...[I]n order for poorer countries to continue to grow at fast rates, they must move beyond specialization in goods produced with relatively unskilled labor...
August 29, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

How Dismal is the Fiscal Future For America and Europe?

Faster long term growth in per capita incomes and real reform in the looming health and retirement entitlement are the only truly effective and efficient ways to greatly reduce the risk of eventual default on sovereign debt by the US, Europe, and other nations...
August 22, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Will the Next Generation be Better off Than Their Parents’ Generation?

The great majority of parents would like to see their children become better off economically than they are, and that hope would be even more common among the children. Yet, polls for a while have suggested that neither the majority of children nor parents in the United States are confident that this progress will happen...
August 15, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Slowdown in the Economic Recovery

After falling rather sharply in 2008 and early 2009, American GDP grew at a good pace in the fourth quarter of 2009, but has slowed down during the second quarter of 2010...This has led to growing fears of a double dip recession, and to a call for still greater fiscal stimulus...
August 9, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Germany vs. US: Two Different Approaches to the Recession

Germany surely made various mistakes during this recession, but the US has made many more...
August 1, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Unions and the Obama Administration

Are the Democratic-controlled Congress and President Obama very much pro union? Unquestionably...
July 25, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Should Unemployment Compensation be Extended?

President Obama during this past week signed into law extending unemployment benefits to a maximum of 99 weeks, or almost two years, for persons who have been unemployed for over half a year and have exhausted their state benefits...
July 18, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Abuse of Presidential Power

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. This famous dictum of Lord Acton is as relevant today as it was when stated in 1887...
July 11, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Five Major Defects of the Financial Reform Bill

A 2300 page bill is usually an indication of many political compromises. The Dodd-Frank financial reform bill is no exception, for it is a complex, disorderly, politically motivated, and not well thought out reaction to the financial crisis...
July 5, 2010 | EconLog

Sumner on Neoliberalism

The neoliberal policy revolution that began in the late 1970s might be the most important recent event in world history...So does Scott Sumner begin this month's Feature Article on Econlib...
July 4, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Gulf Oil Leak and Optimal Safety Precautions

The likelihood, and cost, of future spills has to be weighed against the gains to US national security and energy independence from having greater access to domestically produced oil...
June 20, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Default Rates and For-Profit Colleges

Since a college education is expensive, many students would be unable to receive a higher education unless they got help with the financing...
June 6, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Will Africa Finally Take Off?

After many decades of hopelessness, there are finally grounds for believing that sub-Saharan Africa may be close to taking off toward sustained economic growth...

May 30, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Slow Economic Growth is a Crucial European Problem

Both Europe’s short-term and long-term economic futures do not look bright. The need to bail out Greece, and possibly also Spain, Portugal, and Italy is the immediate problem, but the fundamental problems go much deeper...

May 23, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Central Bank Independence

I have little doubt that central banks should have considerable independence Yet complete central bank independence from politicians does not seem desirable since banks also can abuse their powers...

May 16, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Social Interactions and Bubbles

Bubbles in prices of stocks, houses, or other assets are usually defined to mean sizable and somewhat prolonged deviations in these prices from the fundamental determinants of the prices...

May 11, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Slow Recovery in US Employment?

The April US employment report gave mixed signals. The good news is that employment grew by 300,000, and the employment gain in March was revised upwards from 160,00 to 230,000. But...

May 2, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Value of Profitable Speculation

[I]t is important to continue to emphasize that speculation serves a useful social purpose, especially when the speculators are making profits...

April 25, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Should the US Introduce a Value Added Tax?

Given the current and projected large scale budget deficits of the United States, many people are advocating that the US follow the example of Europe and many other countries, and introduce a value added tax (VAT)...

April 18, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Trends in American Income Inequality Prior to the Recession

While median family income in the United States fell for over a decade prior to the beginning of the recession that started in late 2007, per capita incomes continued to grow during that time period.

April 11, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Looming Entitlement Fiscal Burden

The entitlement fiscal burden from projected spending increases on retirement benefits and health care during the next couple of decades is scary for Western Europe, Japan, The United States, and other rich nations.

April 4, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Effects on Children of the Decline in Marriage

Marriage emerged as the most popular institution throughout history primarily because it was an effective arrangement to improve the care and upbringing of children. Marriage is not necessary to have children, but it has been of enormous importance in the rearing of children.

March 28, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Health Care Bill: Progress or Retrogression?

Studies show that men and women place a high value on even small decreases in their probability of dying at different ages. . . .

March 21, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Will the Euro Survive its Current Difficulties?

When the euro was launched on January 1, 1999, I was skeptical about its long run viability primarily for two reasons. . . .

March 15, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Long-Term Unemployed: Consequences and Possible Cures

Greater unemployment is a casualty of every recession, and the so-called Great Recession is clearly no exception. . . .

March 7, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Filibuster and Supermajorities

Although the American Constitution does not provide for the filibuster, the founders of this country were very much concerned about protecting the rights of minorities . . . .

March 1, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Fiscal Stimulus Packages: What are their Effects?

The over $800 billion American fiscal stimulus package is enormously unpopular in many quarters. . . .

February 21, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Should the Government try to Stimulate US Exports?

In economies that have full employment except during recessions, which describes the American economy, increased exports do not create jobs, any more than building football stadiums creates jobs. . . .

February 14, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Are e-Readers the Beginning of the End for Books?

I do believe that e-readers foretell an enormous change in the book publishing industry. . . .

February 7, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

On Consumer Competence

I believe that a Consumer Financial Protection Agency will hurt rather than help consumers. . . .

January 31, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Subsidies to Small Business?

President Obama, in his State of the Union Address last week, indicated that he would assist small business, particularly to encourage their hiring of additional workers. . . .

January 28, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Fear, Profiling, and Terrorism on Airplanes

The purpose of terrorism, wherever it occurs, is to create fear that is disproportionate to the size of any terrorist risk. . . .

January 17, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Internet, Competition, and Censorship

The Internet and wireless transmission has not only vastly extended the ease of communicating quickly, but also provides quick access to information on a scale far surpassing anything available before. . . .

January 10, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

Happiness and Wellbeing

Research on happiness entered the economics literature about 40 years ago, and the number of articles and books on this subject by economists has exploded during the past 15 years. . . .

January 4, 2010 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Revolution in the Economic Empowerment of Women

The current issue of the Economist recognizes that the dramatic change in labor force participation of women is one of the most important transformations in the economic and social worlds during the past generation. . . .

December 20, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Failure in Copenhagen

Relative to initial expectations, and given that the heads of almost all leading nations attended, the recently concluded United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen was an embarrassing failure. . . .

December 27, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Government Demand for Drugs and Drug Prices

In determining whether governments should use their monopsony power-defined well by Posner- to reduce drug prices, it is essential to distinguish between generics and drugs that are still protected by patents. . . .

December 14, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

We Should Amend, not Discard, National Income Accounts

The justification economists give for concepts of national income, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Net Domestic Product (NDP). . . .

December 7, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Should the Fed Remain Independent?

Neither former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan nor the present Chairman Ben Bernanke anticipated the financial crisis that erupted in 2008. . . .

November 29, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

How to Increase Employment

During this "Great Recession", unemployment has risen from under 5% at the beginning of the recession in December of 2007 to more than double that rate to reach its highest level so far in October of 10.2%. . . .

November 23, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Should China Allow its Currency to Appreciate?

By all accounts, President Obama's visit to China last week was pretty much a failure on all the major issues, which include China's contributions to climate change, nuclear weapons, and various aspects of the world economy. . . .

November 15, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Will We Go the Way of Japan? No, Unless US Government Policies Discourage Growth

The ratio of federal government spending to American GDP was quite stable at about 20% for about 40 decades, but this ratio has been rising rapidly during the past year, and it is beginning to approach 30%. . . .

November 9, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Productivity and Jobs

Last week two pieces of news about the American economy were disclosed, with important implications for where the economy is going. . . .

November 1, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Fiscal Imprudence and Fiscal Stimulus

The government's preliminary estimate of the growth in American GDP during the third quarter of 2009 is an impressive annual rate of 3.5%...

October 25, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Pay Controls Once Again

I sympathize with all the people who are upset by the very large bonuses, stock options, and other compensation received by heads of some financial institutions that ran their companies into the ground through bad investments...

October 19, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Competition and Organizational Efficiency

Oliver Williamson's influential contributions to the theory of firms were the stimulus for our discussion topic this week of the analysis of organizations...

October 11, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Will World Food Prices Resume their Sharp Increase?

The worldwide recession has slowed the growth in the demand for cereals and other foods as many countries have experienced stagnation or contraction in their GDPs...

October 4, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is the Swiss Health Care System a Good Model for US?

The Swiss health care system has several important properties that I (and many others) have been advocating should be incorporated into any reform of the US health care system...

September 27, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Union Power in the Obama Administration

The major American trade unions, including the United Automobile Workers, the United Steelworkers, and the Service Employees International Union, went all out in their support of Barack Obama during the past presidential election...

September 15, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

How Much Should We Care About Government Deficits?

Deficits arise when government spending exceeds the revenues raised from various taxes...

September 9, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Productivity, Unemployment, and the End of the Recession

On October 7, 2008 I wrote an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal ("We're Not Headed for a Depression") in which I said there would not be a depression, certainly nothing at all resembling the Great Depression of the 1930s...

August 30, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

More Regulation of Mortgages would Likely Hurt Consumers

No doubt many consumers made mistakes in their credit decisions during the past few years, perhaps especially in the mortgages they chose...

August 24, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Cash for Clunkers Program: A Bad Idea at the Wrong Time

The cash-for-clunkers program of the federal government began in late July, and will end this evening...

August 17, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

American Health Care Once Again

In a recent post (see my discussion on July 28) I explained why the American health delivery system is superior in some important dimensions to health care in most other advanced countries...

August 9, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

The World Recession is Ending: What Next?

The latest output and unemployment figures for the United States indicate that the recession in this country is very probably finally over, given the usual definitions of the turning points of recessions...


September 7, 2011 | Street

Germany's PIIGS Role: Q&A With Gary Becker

We interview Gary Becker, Nobel Prize-winning economist at the University of Chicago, to understand some of the political and economic implications of the European financial crisis...
September 6, 2011 | John Batchelor Show

Gary Becker on the John Batchelor Show

GUESTS: Gary Becker, Hoover; Amity Shlaes, CFR; Gov. Frank Keating, President and CEO, American Bankers; Paul Niehaus, Republican candidate for State Senator in New York-73 Assembly District...
November 12, 2010 | Uncommon Knowledge

The Economy with Gary Becker: Chapter 5 of 5

Gary Becker offers a pro-growth prescription for lifting the U.S. economy out of its prolonged malaise...
November 11, 2010 | Uncommon Knowledge

The Economy with Gary Becker: Chapter 4 of 5

Gary Becker explains why Obamacare will increase health costs, rather than contain them...
November 10, 2010 | Uncommon Knowledge

The Economy with Gary Becker: Chapter 3 of 5

Gary Becker rates the initial and continuing response of the U.S. Federal Reserve to the financial crisis...
November 8, 2010 | Uncommon Knowledge

The Economy with Gary Becker: Chapter 1 of 5

The U.S. economy grew robustly from 1983 to 2008. And then everything collapsed. What happened? Nobelist Gary Becker responds...
January 14, 2010 | New Yorker

Interview with Gary Becker

This is the fourth in a series of interviews with Chicago School economists. . . .

September 5, 2009 | Financial Times

Becker defends Chicago school

The ”Chicago school” of free market-centric economics, highly influential in forming laisser faire policies, has faced fierce criticism in the wake of the financial crisis...

Other Media

August 2, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Growth in Obesity

The weight of the average male and female began to grow sharply around 1980 not only in the United States but also in all other developed countries...

July 26, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Mortality from Disease and the American Health Care System

Many Democratic Congressmen, members of the Obama administration, and others writing about American health care envy the “European” health delivery system...

July 19, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

How Should Universities React to the Decline in Their Endowments?

The values of most university endowments have taken large hits during this financial crisis...

July 12, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Legislation on Clean Energy

In late June the House of Representatives approved The American Clean Energy and Security Act...

July 5, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Senate Filibuster -Becker

The United States, as the name indicates, was formed as a confederation of independent states-initially only 13, but since expanded to 50.

June 28, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

President Obama's Financial Reform Package

Since the document laying out the President's financial reform package is 88 pages, I will concentrate my evaluation on a few basic issues.

June 23, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Social Cost of the Decline of Newspapers?

According to data compiled by my colleagues Matt Gentzkow and Jesse Shapiro, the number of daily newspapers in the United States has been declining for more than 90 years, from a peak of about 2200 to its present level of about 1400...

June 14, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Fatal Conceit: A Pay "Czar"

This week the Obama administration, acting through Secretary of the Treasury Geithner, appointed a pay czar to review, reject, and possibly set the pay of companies that received large amounts of federal assistance during the financial crisis...

June 7, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Health Care

The best way to evaluate America's expensive health care system would be to estimate the effects of different kinds of healthcare on the quality and quantity of health for individuals of various ages, incomes, races, and other categories...

June 1, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is the World Economic Center of Gravity Moving to Asia?

The short answer is "yes", although not immediately, and not inevitably...

May 24, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

A Tax on Sodas? Becker

The number of overweight children and adults has grown sharply since 1980...

May 17, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Conflict in Modern Conservatism Once Again

Posner and I decided to post again this week on the conservative movement because of the great interest in our discussion last week...

May 10, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Serious Conflict in the Modern Conservative Movement

The roots of conservatism go back to philosophers of the 17 and 18th centuries, such as John Locke, David Hume, and Adam Smith...

May 3, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Some Economics of Flu Pandemics

Every century or so, a major flu pandemic (an epidemic with a global impact) occurs...

April 26, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Central Banks Cannot Easily Maintain their Independence

Most richer nations nowadays, and many developing nations, have "independent" central banks, such as the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve Bank...

April 19, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Repayment of Tarp Bank Loans

Six months ago essentially all large American banks and many smaller ones received loans from the federal government to help shore up their capital base as they tried to weather the financial storm...

April 13, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Comments on the Efficiency of Stock Markets

It is very difficult for either amateur investors or even professional money managers to do better picking their own stocks than the performance of the major stock indexes, such as the US Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) or the Japanese Nikkei Index...

April 5, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Housing Prices and Consumption

The widespread and sharp rise in housing prices during the early part of this decade in the United States and many other countries is said to have contributed to the worldwide economic boom through wealth effects that induced greater consumption...

March 31, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

An Addendum on the Treasury's Plan to Buy Bank Assets

In my post on Sunday I gave an example to illustrate the Treasury's plan to buy the "toxic" assets of banks...

March 29, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Treasury's Plan to Buy Bank Assets

One good aspect of the Treasury's plan to enlist the private sector in buying mortgage-backed and other bank assets is that it reduces the uncertainty-if it is implemented! - about what the government plans to do further in aiding banks...

March 22, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Match Making through the Internet

The Internet has produced revolutions in many kinds of behavior, such as greatly reducing the advantages from reading newspapers, but one of the most important is in providing easy access to various kinds of social interactions...

March 21, 2009 | Wall Street Journal

Now Is No Time to Give Up on Markets

"What can we do that would be beneficial?...

March 15, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

American Charitable Deductions Abroad

Pressures for both increased government and private assistance to poorer nations may well result from this recession because some nations that can least afford a setback may suffer the most due to reduced demand for their exports of commodities and other goods...

March 9, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Financial Regulations

The severity of this recession has stimulated calls for greatly increased regulation of the financial sector, and for changes in some of the present regulations...

March 1, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

On the Obama Mortgage Plan

The housing market is in shambles as home prices continue to fall-so far the average house has fallen over 25 percent in value from its peak...

February 22, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

China Bashing Once Again

During his confirmation hearing before the United States Senate toward the end of January, Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner accused China of "manipulating" its currency...

February 8, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Pay Controls Do Not Work at Any Level

Several big banks and other companies have badly fumbled their public relations during these difficult times, such as the big three auto makers who took their private jets to Washington to beg Congress for a bailout, or the board and CEO of Merrill Lynch that granted generous bonuses to their executives just as the company was avoiding bankruptcy through being taken over by Bank of America...

February 1, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Buy American Once Again

Every recession, including those milder than the current recession, leads to pressure to reduce spending on foreign goods by raising tariffs and other import restrictions...

January 25, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Will the Decline in Union Membership be Reversed?

In 2007, the House of Representatives passed the Employee Free Choice Act, a law to promote unionism...

January 18, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Infrastructure in a Stimulus Package

Last week we blogged on how much stimulus to GDP and employment might be expected from a version of the Obama fiscal stimulus plan...

January 11, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

On the Obama Stimulus Plan

If the government increased its spending on infrastructure when the economy has full employment, its main impact would likely be to draw labor, capital, and raw materials away from various other activities...

January 4, 2009 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is This a Good Time to Raise Taxes on Gasoline?

When we blogged about gasoline taxes on July 21, 2008, the sharp rise in gasoline prices to over $4 a gallon...

December 28, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Unions in the American Economy

Union members constitute a mere 7.5 percent of the private sector American labor force, only one third of its share 25 years ago...

December 14, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Why Bankruptcy is the Best Solution for American Auto Companies

Posner gives an excellent and skeptical discussion of the negotiations over terms of the auto bailout...

December 7, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Central Bank Confidence in Taming the Business Cycle: A Grand Illusion?

For many years economists and central bankers have congratulated themselves on the remarkable stability of US economy...

November 30, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Future of Free Market Conservatism

I agree with Posner that the future of free market policies in the United States has been damaged by the financial crisis, and by the continuing rise in unemployment and slowdown of the American (and world) economy...

November 16, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Bail Out the Big Three Auto Producers? Not a Good Idea

The big three American auto producers General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, are in terrible financial shape...

November 9, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Depressions Cause a lot More Pain than Benefits

Some older theories of business cycles-usually associated with the "Austrian" school of economics- claimed that recessions and depressions were useful in helping to remove the poison from an economy that builds up during good times...

November 2, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Does the Free Market Corrode Moral Character?

The title of this discussion is taken from a question put by the John Templeton Foundation to leading scientists, scholars, and public figures...

October 26, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Observations on the Milton Friedman Institute at the University of Chicago

Not long after the death of Milton Friedman in the fall of 2006, the president of the University of Chicago, Robert Zimmer, formed a committee drawn from the Economics Department, the Graduate School of Business, and the Law School...

October 19, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs Severely Wounded?

Will this financial crisis mark a substantial retreat from the world's movement during the past several decades toward a competitive market system?...

October 12, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Why the Warnings were Ignored: Too many False Alarms-Becker

I will first make a couple of comments on the present situation...

October 5, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Government Equity in Private Companies

The Federal government of the United States has seldom taken an equity interest in private companies, although this has been proposed sometimes, especially as a way to get higher returns on social security assets...

September 28, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Financial Crisis II

In considering what needs to be done to improve the functioning of the financial system, it is necessary to distinguish steps to avoid a major depression in the near term from long run reforms of the financial system...

September 21, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Crisis of Global Capitalism?

On Sunday of this past week Merrill Lynch agreed to sell itself to Bank America, on Monday Lehman Brothers, a venerable major Wall Street investment bank, went into the largest bankruptcy in American history..

September 14, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Political Prediction Markets

Prediction markets are pervasive in finance, especially in modern derivative markets...

September 7, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Competitive Markets and Discrimination Against Minorities

An eye-opening article in the New York Times on August 29th discusses the effects of India's economic reforms and subsequent economic growth on the poverty and progress of the untouchables...

August 24, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Hollywood and Liberals

For every Ronald Reagan Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jon Voight, Charlton Heston, and a few other prominent conservative Hollywood stars, there are probably more than 50 strongly liberal actors, directors, producers, and other "above the line" categories of filmmakers...

August 17, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Determinants of the Olympic Success of Different Countries

Hundreds of millions of men and women all over the world have been tuned to their television sets and clued to their computer screens as they followed the Olympic extravaganza in Beijing...

August 10, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Should Gay Marriages be Allowed?

Many gay couples want to be allowed to call their union "marriage" mainly because they believe this will give their relation a degree of acceptance that is closer to that given to heterosexual unions...

August 3, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is America in Decline?

Articles about whether America is in decline is a cyclical industry that rises and falls over about a twenty-year cycle...

July 27, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is Government Intervention in the Fast Food Industry Justified?

New York City's ban on the use of trans fats in restaurants is the first of many efforts to restrict not only trans fats, but also the whole fast food industry...

July 21, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Should US Taxes on Gasoline be Higher?

Gasoline prices have increased rapidly during the past several years, pushed up mainly by the sharply rising price of oil...

July 13, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Cats and Dogs, and "Sensible" Bequests

Leona Helmsley's bequests of $12 million to her dog, and several billion dollars to the welfare of dogs in general, are highly unusual, eccentric, and strange...

July 6, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Graying of College Faculties

A recent New York Times article indicated that the fraction of full-time faculty members in the United States older than age 50 more than doubled between 1969 and 2005, increasing from 23 percent to over 50 percent...

June 29, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Yes, Newspapers are Doomed

The number of general-purpose newspapers has been declining in cities ever since the growth of television, and the decline accelerated after the Internet was developed...

June 22, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Energy Prices, Offshore Drilling, and an "Excess" Profits Tax

Increases in energy prices sharply accelerated during the past year, as the price of oil more than doubled, and gasoline prices in United States rose by 25 percent...

June 15, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Borrowing and Consumption over the Life Cycle

The types of loans available to consumers have grown at unprecedented rates during the past 40 years...

June 9, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Boom in College Education

The worldwide boom in college education during past several decades has been as remarkable as it was unexpected...

June 1, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Infrastructure and the Value of Time

Time is the most precious resource of men and women, and even older children...

May 25, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Paying the Poor to Improve their School Performance

In the mid-1990's Mexico started an anti-poverty program, called Progressa, that revolutionized the way low income countries try to reduce child labor and the school dropout rate...

May 18, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

How Much government Regulation to "Protect" Consumers?

The consumer protection issue has been thrust into public attention by the housing debacle because many families have had lenders foreclose on their homes, while other home owners are in serious arrears on their mortgage payments...

May 11, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Rise in the Price of Oil

The run-up in the world price of oil during the past several years, and especially the rapid climb during the last few weeks to over $120 per barrel, has fueled predictions that the price will reach $200 a barrel in the rather near future...

May 4, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Farm Subsidies and Farm Taxes

Posner presents evidence on the sizable subsidies received by American farmers from the federal government of the United States...

April 28, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Greater Regulation of Financial Markets?

The major deregulation movement of the past 100 years started with the Ford and Carter administrations in the 1970s, and continued through the Reagan years...

April 21, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Decline of Airline Service

The increase in flight delays is just one aspect of a general decline in airline service...

April 17, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Addendum on Rising Food Prices-Becker

It was an oversight that I did not discuss explicitly long term prospects for food price increases...

April 13, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Rising Food Prices and Public Policy

The World Bank's index of food prices increases by 140 percent from January 2002 to the beginning of 2008, and a full 75 percent just since September 2006...

April 7, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Compensation under Competition--Posner

It used to be thought more widely than it is now that in a competitive market, the compensation of workers, on the assumption that it is left to the market, will be efficient...

March 30, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Medicare Challenge

Becker makes the ingenious suggestion that the effect of adding drug coverage to the Medicare program is to prevent spending on drugs from growing as rapidly as the number of persons covered by Medicare....

March 23, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Intelligence Doping

"Sports doping"--the use of anabolic steroids and other drugs to increase athletic performance, as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and other prominent professional athletes have been accused of doing--is intensely controversial....

March 16, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Erosion of Individual Responsibility

Hardly a day goes by during this housing crisis that the media does not report on families in foreclosure proceedings, or in arrears in repayment on mortgages that had close to zero down payment requirements and low “teaser “ interest rates...

March 9, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

William F. Buckley and Economics

I agree with Posner that Buckley was not a major originator of ideas...

March 2, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

The New Gender Gap in Education

Until the mid 1960's, female high school graduates were less likely than male graduates to go to college, and female college students were far more likely to drop out than were male students...

February 24, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

College Tuition and Endowments

The agitation about the fraction of endowment that colleges spend is driven in large measure by the rapid rise in tuition since the late 1970's...

February 18, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Can Gun Control Laws be Effective?

The shooting recently of 10 innocent persons at a retail store and a university in Illinois has highlighted once again the issue of gun control in the United States...

February 10, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

On Corporate Altruism

In the past few decades, economists have analyzed the competition from companies motivated solely by the desire for profits against companies truly motivated in part by other considerations...

February 3, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Selling Illegal Residents the Right to Stay

No one knows for sure how many illegal immigrants are in the United States, Europe, and other countries, but there are surely many millions...

January 27, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Tax Burdens

The burden of taxes to a country depends not only on the fraction of its gross domestic product GDP that are collected as tax revenue –the data shown in Posner's chart- but on many other factors as well...

January 20, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Slowing of Black Progress

Black Americans have made considerable progress during the past two decades in reaching top positions in government, business, and the military...

January 6, 2008 | Becker-Posner Blog

Does Economic Development Reduce Terrorism?

Face-to-face interviews of an apparently random sample of the Pakistani population were conducted in August 2007 for Terror Free Tomorrow, a non-partisan Washington policy organization (www.

December 15, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

How to Combine Income and Life Expectancy into an Index of Well-being

Modern national income accounts developed about 75 years...

December 10, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Why Sovereign Funds?

The growth of large government managed funds during the past few years has been spectacular...

December 2, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

On Carbon Offsets

Posner's discussion of carbon offsets is thorough, so I will concentrate on only a few issues...

November 25, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Why so Little Tax Evasion?

All the rich countries are successful in raising sizable amounts of revenue from taxes with only a rather little tax evasion...

November 18, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Iraqi Bonds and the Effects of the Surge

Michael Greenstone of MIT had the excellent idea of using financial data to provide information on what global investors believe about the viability of this government...

November 11, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog


The wealth of some individuals is so staggering that it is hard for the rest of us to fathom...

October 28, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Rising Food Prices and What That Means

Malthus and the many neo-Malthusians of modern times assume that the threat from world overpopulation would show up first in rising food prices...

October 21, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Third-Party Liability?

I agree with Posner that third party liability is desirable in some cases, but that class is narrow...

October 14, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Globalization and Inequality

A report to be issued this coming week by the IMF (the technical analysis was released early) shows that greater globalization during the past two decades contributed significantly to rising inequality during this period in most developing as well as developed countries...

October 1, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Decline of Unions

The recent two-day strike by the United Automobile Workers (UAW) against General Motors (GM) illustrates clearly the steep decline of the importance of unions in the United States economy...

September 24, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Universal National Service is a Tax, and a Bad One

Universal service usually means that young persons, say 18 year olds, can either be drafted into military service for a specified period, say a year or two, or instead they can work for a similar period in one among a number of qualifying occupations...

September 16, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Rules vs. Authority in Central Bank (and Other) Policies

There is tremendous speculation about how much, if at all, the Fed will reduce the federal funds rate at its meeting next week on Sept. 18th...

September 9, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

China's Air Pollution

It is more or less inevitable that China's economy will spew out a lot of pollution, given its extraordinary rate of growth for over 20 years, and the abundant supplies of coal that fuel its power generation...

September 2, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Transformation of the Kibbutz and the Rejection of Socialism

Much has been written about the rejection of socialism by major powers like China and the former Soviet Union...

August 26, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

The Infrastructure "Crisis" Once Again

For at least the past three decades the media and others have been concerned about the "crumbling infrastructure" of the U.S. highways, including the roads and bridges...

August 12, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Why Air Transportation Delays?

The past few years, and especially this summer, has seen loud and frequent complaints against American airlines because of flight delays, canceled flights, lost baggage, poor on-board service, overbooking, and other problems...

August 5, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Social Causes of the Obesity "Epidemic"

Obesity is defined usually as a body-mass index of 30 or greater, where the body-mass index adjusts weight for height by dividing weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters...

July 29, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Comment on Benefit Cost Analysis Applied to the Iraq War

Costs are usually easier to measure in modern wars than benefits...

July 22, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Do National Security and Environmental Energy Policies Conflict?

Individuals and groups support government regulation of energy use either because they are concerned about the negative effects of oil, gas, and other fossil fuels on the environment, or about the impact of demand for these fuels on national security...

July 16, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Comment on Hedge Funds

Most people do not object if others make a fortune producing tangible products, such as Bill Gates' wealth from Microsoft, or the wealth Bill Marriott received from his hotel chain...

July 8, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

The International Market for Talent

Estimates suggest that intangible capital, which is mainly skilled employees, constitutes 70 per cent of the total capital of large American companies...

June 24, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Are Subprime Loans Useful?

During the past couple of week, the U.S. housing market has had a record number of home foreclosures, a rise in delinquency rates on mortgage loans, and further declines in housing starts...

June 17, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Intelligence and Leadership

Economists have been emphasizing in recent years that that while cognitive abilities of individuals certainly raise their education and earnings, many non-cognitive skills are often more significant...

June 10, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Women's Role in the Economy

With Hillary Clinton a very serious candidate for the U.S. Presidency, Angela Merkel as Chancellor of Germany, and Segolene Royal who almost became president of France, women have clearly arrived as political leaders in Europe and the United States...

June 4, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Comment on Military Pay

Posner raises an important issue: why do Americans (and persons of other nationalities) grieve so much when American military personnel (or the military personnel of these nations) are killed during military actions, even when those killed had volunteered for military service?

May 28, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Immigration Reform

After extensive debate, the United States Senate last week passed a comprehensive immigration bill...

May 13, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Different Voting Classes of Shares, and Family Control of Newspapers

The market for corporate control is sometimes claimed to be more effective at replacing inefficient management when a relatively small number of shareholders-members of particular families in the cases of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times – cannot maintain control over management because their shares have much greater voting rights than shares owned by others...

May 6, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Crime and Economic Development

Even though official crime statistics are often suspect, there is no doubt that crime rates vary enormously from country to country.,,

April 29, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Protests and the Iraq War

To me, the absence of a military draft is the most important factor behind the minimal number of violent protests against the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq...

April 15, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Some Priorities in Reforming Health Care

I will make three points: the United States system of health care may not be the most efficient but people here get good value for their large spending on health care, employer-based health insurance has the frequently overlooked major advantage of providing long term insurance, and catastrophic health coverage probably should be made compulsory...

April 8, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Employee Ownership Through ESOPS: A Bad Bargain

Recently Sam Zell, a leading Chicago businessman, arranged to buy the Tribune company, owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, other newspapers, and many TV and radio stations...

April 1, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Improving the Tort System

Posner 's criticisms of Jackpot Justice are right on the mark, as the authors of the study considerably exaggerate the cost of the tort system...

March 18, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

How to Use Pensions to Improve Judicial Tenure-Becker

Posner shows that salaries of federal judges are low compared to those of lawyers in private practice or academia, and judges' salaries have declined substantially over time relative to earnings of practitioners and law professors...

March 12, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Should Marriage be Subsidized? Becker

David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, set off a considerable debate in Great Britain on marriage when he recently claimed "Families come in all shapes and sizes and they all need support [because]…married couples stay together longer..."

February 19, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Comment on Genetic Testing

Genetic testing offers great hope for future progress in treating diseases since individuals can in many instances reduce the consequences of genetic defects if they find out about them sufficiently early...

February 12, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is Sex Selection of Births Undesirable? BECKER

In China in 2005, 118 boys were born for every 100 girls born.

February 4, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Discounting Greenhouse Gas Effects in the Distant Future-BECKER

Under present scientific calculations, environmental damage from global warming at current rates of CO2 emissions will be large, especially during the latter half of this century and throughout the next few centuries...

January 29, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Reforming the American Health Care System-BECKER

Health care reform in the United States is receiving lots of attention recently from politicians and the media, and major changes in federal as well as state health law are likely...

January 14, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Libertarian Paternalism: A Critique--BECKER

Libertarians believe that individuals should be allowed to pursue their own interests, unless their behavior impacts the interests of others, especially if it negatively impacts others...

January 7, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Aids and Africa - Becker

As Posner's data indicate, the world AIDS problem is now largely concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa...

January 1, 2007 | Becker-Posner Blog

Charitable Foundations and Their Effects

The United States gives more generous tax deductions when individuals set up charitable trusts than do many other countries in Europe, Latin America, and elsewhere...

December 24, 2006 | Becker-Posner Blog

Fatalities from Drunken Driving-

One of the most disturbing aspects of the holiday season is the sharp rise in automobile fatalities, in part due to drunk driving from overdrinking at parties and other celebrations...

December 10, 2006 | Becker-Posner Blog

World inequality

A recent UN report on world inequality of wealth attracted widespread media coverage...

December 5, 2006 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is Student Debt Too high?

Some members of the new Congress are claiming that the debt of students to finance their college education is too high, and that more generous federally funded student grants should be available...

November 26, 2006 | Becker-Posner Blog

On Raising the Federal Minimum Wage

An increase in the minimum wage has several distinctive negative effects on the economy...

November 19, 2006 | Becker-Posner Blog

On Milton Friedman's Ideas

Milton Friedman died this past week...

November 12, 2006 | Becker-Posner Blog

What the Election Proves? Not Much

I do not believe the election proves much other than that corruption scandals and the Iraq war hurt Republicans...

November 5, 2006 | Becker-Posner Blog

Crime Epidemics

Chicago, where I have lived for the past 35 years, is not the safest city, but it seems like a paradise of safety compared to Mexico City, where I just spent a few days...

October 22, 2006 | Becker-Posner Blog

Is There a Case for Legalizing Polygamy?

For a long time I have found the practice of polygamy intriguing, and have wondered why opposition to this form of marriage is so strong in the United States and most of the world –see my A Treatise on the Family, 1981,1993, Harvard University Press…

October 2, 2006 | Becker-Posner Blog

Comment on the NAS Report on Women in Science and Engineering-Becker

Posner makes excellent points, so I will fill in at a few places...

July 10, 2006 | EconTalk

An Interview with Gary Becker

Russ Roberts interviews Gary Becker on the challenges of being an intellectual maverick, the economic approach to human behavior, the influences of Adam Smith and Alfred Marshall on Becker's work and Becker's optimism for the future of economics…