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Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth.

Articles by Richard W. Rahn

Saved by a Frog Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

When the bureacracy goes too far

What do the Paris riots, Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, the dusky gopher frog and Peter Wallison's new book "Judicial Fortitude" all have in common? They are all signs that the peasants have had it with the bureaucratic state and the smug elitists who have been ruling the globe. Despite never-ending attempts to quash it, the basic human desire for liberty keeps re-emerging. Published December 10, 2018

Too little progress against death and taxes

Want to live longer? Your odds improve if you are a rich, well-educated Asian or European woman accountant who engages in moderate exercise. If you are an overweight retired professional football player, your odds of having a shorter than average life-span are high. Olympic athletics have a longer than average lifespan, while athletes who engage in contact sports have shorter than average lifespans. Contact sports frequently cause a variety of damage to the bone and skeletal system, as well as to the brain, whose effects grow over-time. Published December 3, 2018

Illustration on the democracy myth by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

The democracy myth

Would you prefer to live in a country that has a high degree of individual liberty but is not a democracy, or live in a democracy where individual liberties are curtailed? Published November 26, 2018

Illustration on the Amazon headquarters decision by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

The dumb courtship of Amazon

Would you vote for a politician who promised to both increase traffic congestion and increase your taxes — and yes, I wrote "increase." For those of us who live in Northern Virginia that is precisely what happened last week, when our state and local government officials announced with considerable fanfare that they had bribed Amazon — with billions of taxpayer money — to build one of its new headquarters in Virginia. With great pride, they also told us that they paid a much smaller bribe to Amazon per promised new job than did the New York governor and mayor. (Virginia Motto: We are not as dumb as New Yorkers.) Published November 19, 2018

Illustration on encouraging ethical government reform by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Behaving, badly, behaving well

We have many ways to measure how well public officials in all countries are behaving. Each year, various organizations provide country rankings as to how well countries are doing in maintaining economic freedom, restraining corruption, protecting civil liberties, including religious freedom, etc. One of the measures is the annual report by the World Bank on Doing Business. The 2019 report ranking 190 countries has just been released. The report investigates "the regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it," including property rights and labor policies. Published November 12, 2018

Illustration on the historical record of Socialism by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

How 'death lobbies' flourish

The two biggest causes of death in the 20th century were smallpox and democide. As bizarre as it may seem, there are growing numbers of people who are lobbying to bring back policies that caused so much human misery. Published November 5, 2018

Figuring Out the Economy Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Limits of economic knowledge

The good news is that the U.S. economy is now on track to grow more than 3 percent this year for the first time in 13 years. The bad news is that the economy would be growing even faster if it were not for policy mistakes. Published October 29, 2018

Chart to accompany Rahn article of Oct 23, 2018.

A shorter path to prosperity for caravan migrants

As I write this, there is a caravan of several thousand people coming north, primarily from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, with the intent of illegally entering into the United States. Published October 22, 2018

Illustration on oppression by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

'Who rules you?'

All of us are subject to many thousands of federal, state, and local laws and regulations, many of which are needlessly oppressive. Who makes these rules, and who enforces them? And at what point are there so many rules that we are no longer free? Published October 15, 2018

Illustration on Adam Smith     The Washington Times

'What would Adam Smith think?'

This historic and most interesting city has never looked better, even during its earlier pre-eminence in the late 1700s when Adam Smith lived and died here. The current economy is largely based on financial services, research and tourism -- all of which are "clean" industries -- resulting in the end of the historic smoky image of Edinburgh. Published October 8, 2018

Chart to accompany Rahn article of Oct 2, 2018.

The rise and fall of nations

This small group of volcanic islands off the African coast is one of the more interesting places on Earth with almost ideal temperatures. The name comes from the Latin, meaning islands of the dogs, not the birds. The Spanish gained control of them 600 years ago, and tourists have been flocking here ever since. A notable visitor was Christopher Columbus, who stopped by on each of his four voyages to the "new world" to do last-minute ship repairs and stock up on provisions for the long trips ahead. One could only suspect that after weeks at sea he might have regretted leaving the Canaries. Published October 1, 2018

Illustration on economic freedom by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Why care about economic freedom

Good news -- the United States is becoming a bit more economically free. The "Economic Freedom of the World 2018 Annual Report," published by the Fraser Institute of Vancouver, Canada, and co-operating think tanks around the world, is released today. Last year, the United States and Canada were tied at number 11, but now the United States has moved up to number six. Published September 24, 2018

FILE - In this Dec. 26, 2016 file photo, a currency exchange bureau owner counts U.S. dollars in downtown Tehran, Iran. Iran's Central Bank has allowed money exchange offices across the country to resume work after a ban imposed in March 2018 amid the country's economic troubles. The bank's governor, Abdolnasser Hemmati, told sate TV late on Sunday, Aug 5, 2018, that "money exchangers are allowed to sell and buy foreign currencies." (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Property rights and pricing

Many problems exist because the activity is mispriced and/or the key decision makers lack the proper incentives. Argentina is going through another financial crisis which occurs almost like clockwork every few years. Published September 17, 2018

The Richest Man Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Bad news sells, but optimism wins

For the past two years, most major media outlets have been running non-stop about what a disaster President Trump is, and how his mere existence is a threat to both citizens' pocketbooks and liberty. Yet the economy has been booming, and lower taxes and fewer regulations not only meant more prosperity but more liberty. Published September 10, 2018

Illustration on the need for alternative currencies by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

The rush to cryptocurrencies

Last week, the Federal Reserve announced that it had reached its goal of a 2 percent inflation rate. Why not 1 percent or 4 percent or better yet, zero? The act creating the Federal Reserve back in 1913 tasked the Fed with the goal of price stability — which in normal (not Washington) speak should mean an inflation rate of zero. Published September 3, 2018

Illustration on state economic experiments and results by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

A tale of two pairs of states

From the beginning of time, people have moved from less desirable to more desirable places. In early times, the main driver of migration was the availability of food. In the modern world, the big drivers of migration are economic opportunity, including well-paying jobs and personal freedom, as well as climate. Published August 27, 2018

Straw Bars Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

When bureaucratic bullies are in charge

There is the natural human tendency to try to dominate or bully our fellow man or woman. Now, it is often done by the use of government institutions and procedures. Published August 20, 2018

Illustration on eating endangered species by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

'Eat endangered species'

Why are bison no longer endangered? There are an estimated 5,000 bison in Yellowstone National Park owned by the government. An estimated almost 100 times as many, from 300,000 to 500,000, are in herds that are privately owned. Published August 6, 2018

Illustration on economic growth and hazards to sustaining it by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

The 'new normal' was not

The "new normal" is 2 percent economic growth as we were endlessly told by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama supporters in the 2016 campaign. Unlike all previous administrations, economic growth never reached a 3 percent annual rate during the Obama years. Many economists who were Obama and Clinton supporters endlessly repeated the mantra that the age of great productivity growth was over and that Americans had to get used to a sluggish economy. Published July 30, 2018