11/14/2019

News

Commentary: The Supreme Court and the One-Way Regulatory Ratchet

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Merck v. Albrecht. At issue in the case is when the federal regime for regulating pharmaceutical products (principally through the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA) might preempt state regulatory regimes (principally through tort litigation). However the case is resolved, this area of law is […]

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California Makes New Homes Even More Expensive

The median list price for a house in California is almost $700,000, the highest in the nation aside from Washington D.C. and Hawaii. This compares to a median list price of $328,000 for the United States as a whole. Prices have been surging in many areas of the state in recent years, and housing costs […]

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Yes, Entitlements Are Driving the Long-Term Debt

Social Security and Medicare costs are rapidly rising due to the retirement of 74 million baby boomers into a system that already runs substantial per-person deficits. Today’s typical retiring couple has paid $140,000 into Medicare and will receive $420,000 in benefits (both adjusted into net present values). Most Social Security recipients also come out ahead. […]

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Philly Soda Tax Loses Fizz

In unsurprising news, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s budget proposal reduced the projected revenues from the city’s beverage tax by about 15 percent. For a multitude of reasons, revenues have not met expectations. Soda tax revenue was already earmarked as the funding source for new pre-K seats, community schools, and other programs. As a result of […]

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Occupational Licensing Reduces Interstate Mobility

Occupational licensing has come under increased scrutiny across levels of government, and desire for reform is bipartisan. The Federal Trade Commission has held two roundtables disseminating research about the effects of licensing on economic opportunity. The Council of Economic Advisers in both the Obama and Trump administrations has suggested that these regulations impede work and opportunity. 

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U.S. Slips in World Bank’s Doing Business Rankings

The United States slipped one spot to eighth in the most recent iteration of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings. The Index ranks countries based on how supportive their economies and regulatory frameworks are to starting and operating a local firm. For the United States, the report uses a population-weighted score for Los Angeles and New York City. A decade ago the United States ranked third, behind only perennial top-two finishers Singapore and New Zealand, but in this year’s Index it also ranked behind Denmark, Hong Kong, South Korea, Norway, and the United Kingdom

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Federal Trade Commission Unshackles Licenses to Opportunity

Today almost one-third of Americans need an occupational license to work legally, a number that has increased fivefold since the mid-20th century. Occupations requiring licenses range from practicing physicians to shampooers to fortune tellers. Uncle Sam appears to be taking notice. Maureen Ohlhaussen, acting chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), has recently spearheaded an Economic Liberty Taskforce to address many of the issues caused by the current licensing landscape. . . .Because licensing is controlled by the states, requirements for licenses are not uniform or systematic. The Institute for Justice analyzed the occupations that require licenses and highlighted how they vary by state. For instance, a barber’s license requires almost two and a half years of education and training in Nevada, but only 175 days of training in Wyoming. Moreover, a barber from Nevada could not cut hair in any other state, including the less stringent Wyoming. Cities can further complicate matters by spawning unnecessary restrictions, such as New York City’s new ban on pet sitting without a kennel license. Another traditionally teen job is eliminated by the bureaucracy.

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Commentary: Not Yet Time for Tesla

Elon Musk has announced the rollout of the Tesla Model 3, which he claims is the car for the masses. But what he really means is that it is a car paid for by the masses. Tesla prominently features the various incentives and credits available to prospective buyers. Purchasers of the $35,000 Model 3 get a $7,500 tax credit—21 percent. In addition, some states provide tax credits or rebates that can range from $1,000 to $5,000, with Colorado at the high end. Plus, owners of electric vehicles (EVs) often get to use HOV lanes without charge, free parking, and rebates on home chargers.

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Decline in Prime-Age Workers Signals Economic Weakness

While commentators tend to focus on the unemployment rate—which is moderate at 4.9 percent—the employment-population ratio is arguably more informative. After long spells out of a job, people may become discouraged and give up looking for work altogether. A large group of working-age, able-bodied individuals outside the labor force is a sign of major weakness in the economy.

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Long-Term Unemployed Still Recovering from Recession

However, on one metric the employment situation remains stubborn: long-term unemployment. The share of unemployed persons stuck without a job for 27 weeks or longer is 28 percent, as opposed to 19 percent pre-recession. That is down somewhat from 37 percent when the economy was at peak unemployment, but still worryingly high.

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