The Commons

Brave New Regulation Share This

Oren Cass | Jun 10, 2022 | The Compass Point

Silicon Valley’s techno-optimists insist loudly on two contradictory points. On one hand, they celebrate the Internet and its associated innovations with phrases like “paradigm shift” and “creative destruction,” and celebrate themselves as the visionaries leading humanity into (unironically) a Brave New World. On the other, they reject the need for new public regulation, insisting that […]

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Who Has the Expertise to Watch the Experts? Share This

Oren Cass | May 20, 2022 | The Compass Point

What role should experts play in our politics? Of course, they have their own freedom of speech, and are welcome to hawk their wares in the marketplace of ideas. But when election day arrives, their votes count no more or less than others, and they are far fewer in number. Democracy relies upon non-experts to […]

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Is Washington the Next Detroit? Share This

Oren Cass | Apr 22, 2022 | The Compass Point

Our latest Compass Point is by James M. Roberts, long-time research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and co-editor of their Index of Economic Freedom, reflecting on his experience in the conservative establishment and the perils of a political movement running on autopilot. “Conservatives are fond of warning that a government program, once established, never dies,” […]

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Why the Economists Are Losing Share This

Oren Cass | Apr 06, 2022

The rebuttal delivered by Jon Lovitz’s Michael Dukakis, in his debate with Dana Carvey’s George H. W. Bush, is one of Saturday Night Live’s most famous political punchlines: “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy.” The New York City audience went nuts—neither could they believe Dukakis was losing to Bush. But, of course, the […]

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What Conservative Critics of Globalization Miss Share This

Anthea Roberts & Nicolas Lamp | Apr 04, 2022 | Trade

It is hard, nay impossible, to find a more sophisticated conservative critique of globalization than that articulated by Oren Cass. Perhaps because Cass was once a card-carrying member of the economic establishment himself, he has an exceptionally clear sense of some of the problematic assumptions that have underpinned that establishment’s high level of support for […]

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Globalists Finally See Reality Share This

Clyde Prestowitz | Apr 04, 2022 | Trade

On March 3, 2018, The Economist declared that the free world had “made the wrong bet” in trying to make China “a responsible stakeholder in the rules based, liberal global order.” Last week, major hedge fund manager and long-time globalization champion Larry Fink declared that “globalization is over.” When the former high priests of globalization […]

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How to Bound the American Market Share This

Michael Stumo | Apr 01, 2022 | Trade

In his essay, Oren Cass correctly argues that a well-functioning capitalist system requires a “bounded market” within a nation-state that imposes interdependence on labor, capital, and consumers. Frictionless capital mobility across borders, in contrast, decouples the interests of investors from their country and their workers. Global capital flows have become massive in volume, unrelated to […]

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Did Globalization Cause the Great Stagnation? Share This

Caleb Watney | Apr 01, 2022 | Trade

Analyzing the effects of any long-run macroeconomic trend is admittedly a difficult affair. After all, typically more than one big trend is happening at a time, which means that isolating the impact of any particular force requires careful and thoughtful empirical analysis. It is somewhat troubling then, that “Where’s the Growth?” doesn’t appear to draw […]

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Why the Free Trade Debate Needs the Real Adam Smith Share This

Paul Winfree | Mar 31, 2022 | Trade

Oren Cass is right to note that modern economists largely misunderstand Adam Smith. But the misunderstanding runs deeper and traces even further back than editorializing in 20th-century textbooks. For more than two centuries, scholars have ignored the relationship between Smith’s political philosophy and economic analysis. It began with Smith’s own friend and biographer, Dugald Stewart, […]

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It’s Time for a Neoclassical Economic Reckoning Share This

Jonathan Askonas | Mar 31, 2022 | Trade

Oren Cass’s essay demonstrates how the advantages of industrial policy, apparent to some of the founders of economics and foundational to the success of the United States, were carefully airbrushed out by advocates of free trade in the 20th century. But he goes too easy on the neoclassical economists. Not only did their defenses of […]

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Freer Trade Isn’t Always Better Share This

Ron Hira | Mar 30, 2022 | Trade

Oren Cass takes on the entrenched belief held by the U.S. economics profession that countries should always pursue a policy of free trade. He argues that Smith and Ricardo have been misunderstood for generations because their key assumptions around capital mobility were omitted as the arguments were passed down. The results have been disastrous. I […]

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Just Say No to Rejoining TPP Share This

Robert Lighthizer | Mar 30, 2022 | Trade

Economic theorists treat globalization as the free market’s natural end state. But trade practitioners know that the opposite is true—that efforts at stitching together the world’s economies are among the messiest sausage-making exercises in policymaking. The protracted process of establishing rules to “liberalize” trade suffers from all the same maladies that free traders warn would […]

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