Research Briefs

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

In 2007, at the initiative of Chairman Ben Bernanke and New York Federal Reserve Bank President Timothy Geithner, the Federal Reserve System began a set of unprecedented credit allocation policies that have been wasteful, morally hazardous, studded with favoritism, and in some cases of dubious legality.

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Those who dream of a world with greater economic freedom have traditionally relied on the pen, the ballot box, and sometimes the sword to effect change. But a relatively new technology called blockchain may make the computer a potent tool to achieve greater liberty.

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

We have written recently at AIER about how blockchain – and bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that is one early and prominent application of blockchain technology – may be important to the future of money and exchange. In this article, I discuss how in the past few years, the center of gravity of the bitcoin world moved to China and the lessons we can draw from the resulting cycle of consolidation and regulation. This may have important implications for the future of bitcoin, as well as a being a potential challenge to the decentralization that is part of the fundamental appeal of cryptocurrencies.

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

New technologies that bring major changes to society rarely do so in ways that are straightforward or easy to predict. In a previous article, we described the basics of blockchain technology and how it could enhance and safeguard fundamental economic rights. Viewing adoption of this technology as an inevitable force that will protect civil liberties and reduce government dominance over legal and economic affairs is therefore tempting.

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

In a recent blog post on Alt-M, an alternative money website, Lawrence H. White, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and professor of economics at George Mason University, discussed how two groups—Baptists and bootleggers—have largely become one and the same. He referred to the two types of groups that tend to spearhead prohibitions, the former on ethical grounds, and the latter with the goal of eliminating legal competition. In the blog post, the prohibition he is concerned about is on the use of cash.

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

New technology can both disrupt and entrench existing large and powerful players in a market. In a previous article, I explained the importance of blockchain technology. A blockchain is a type of database that is distributed to all users without a centrally managed hub and that stores unalterable digital records. It is most commonly known today as the technology underlying bitcoin, keeping records of the cryptocurrency’s ownership and allowing ownership to be transferred.

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

At the height of the housing bubble in 2005, both existing and new home sales reached all-time highs—7 million for existing home sales for the year and nearly 1.4 million for new home sales. To put the housing bubble in perspective, new home sales increased three-fold from their low in 1991 to their high in 2005. Home prices as measured by the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index rose more that 200 percent between the mid-1990s and the height of the housing bubble.

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

The socialist Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela led by its late president, Hugo Chávez, appears to have failed. The Venezuelan economy has collapsed and hyperinflation has destroyed the country’s currency.

Monday, February 27th, 2017

How does federal money get distributed to the states, and where does it go?

Friday, February 24th, 2017

Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to supervise four college students from local colleges who interned at AIER. Under my supervision, each of them identified, analyzed, and reported on a key innovation in a specific industry.

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

In an article published in AIER’s January 1996 Research Report, Thomas Lehman wrote, “The present immigration policy of the United States amounts to nothing less than a tariff or barrier to entry on the commodi

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Col. E.C. Harwood, AIER’s founder, was a staunch defender of the gold standard and a harsh critic of fiat money, or money that the government declares is legal tender. He understood the dangers of allowing monetary authorities unbridled influence over the nation’s money.

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Those who dream of a world with greater economic freedom have traditionally relied on the pen, the ballot box, and sometimes the sword to effect change. But a relatively new technology called blockchain may make the computer a potent tool to achieve greater liberty.

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

“When adversely affected minorities are politically powerful, governments often intervene with special-privilege legislation to insulate the “injured” parties from the effects of international cooperation or to give them special advantages in

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Americans’ cost of living fell relative to their earnings on average in 2016. Even though inflation ticked slightly upward, average wages grew faster. The Consumer Price Index, which measures price changes in goods and services, rose 1.7 percent. That was still low in historical terms but the second highest annual increase in the past five years. But the 2.9 percent increase in average wages was the largest wage gain over that five-year period. 

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Financial wellness has become a popular topic with policymakers, human resources departments, and the financial media. The concept is simple: Just as with physical health, financial wellness assesses your ability to support yourself into old age. 

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Quality of life and demographics, rather than the economic climate, play a stronger role in the top rankings for metro areas in this year’s AIER College Destinations Index. This is particularly true for metro areas with a population of 1 million or more. In contrast, economic climate plays a more important role in our rankings for metro areas with populations under 1 million.

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Economists, politicians, and the media often talk about the economy as if it is a single unit and all aspects of it move in the same way. But the economy includes many different parts. For economists, “the economy” stands for economic output, typically measured by gross domestic product, or GDP. But for most other people, the critical consideration in the economy is not GDP, but jobs and incomes. 

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Retirees are likely to see a positive but very small cost-of-living adjustment in their Social Security benefits next year.