October 4, 2007

Richmond Fed Publication Looks at the Economics of Politics

Richmond, VA

Why do pluralities commonly support policies that run contrary to the advice of economists? For several decades, public choice theory has provided the leading explanation: Voters are rationally ignorant, with special interests largely controlling the democratic process. But now, an economist at George Mason University has turned that model on its head. Voters are getting precisely what they want, says Bryan Caplan, because they are irrational. Caplan's new book has sparked considerable debate over the validity of the traditional public choice model, developed by James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, and other members of the "Virginia school of political economy."

Also in this issue:

  • Credit Markets: Some of the nation’s leading economists recently gathered in Charlotte to discuss the promise and peril of credit market innovations.
  • The Great Depression: Was the Federal Reserve to blame?
  • Furniture Market: Las Vegas has emerged as the latest and perhaps most formidable contender to High Point, N.C., as host of the world’s most important furniture trade show.
  • Interview: Russell Sobel of West Virginia University about his state’s lagging economy, disaster reconstruction, NASCAR safety, and a host of other topics.

Region Focus, a quarterly business magazine published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, covers the economy and business activities of the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and most of West Virginia.

For free copies of Region Focus, contact the Bank's Public Affairs Department at 804.697.8109. The articles are available online at the Bank's Web site.

The Richmond Fed serves the Fifth Federal Reserve District, which includes the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and most of West Virginia. As part of the nation's central bank, we're one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that work together with the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors to strengthen the economy and our communities. We manage the nation's money supply to keep inflation low and help the economy grow. We also supervise and regulate financial institutions to help safeguard our nation's financial system and protect the integrity and efficiency of our payments system.


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Aaron Steelman
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