Remembering Thalidomide: In Praise of Regulations and Bureaucrats

The front page of this morning’s New York Times carried an obituary for Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey.  The name wasn’t familiar to me, but I knew the story for which she was famous: blocking the approval of thalidomide for use in the United States.  As the Times points out, by September 1960, “The drug had already been sold to pregnant women in Europe for morning sickness, and the application seemed … [Read more...]

Secular stagnation: What is it? Should we care?

Why is the economy growing so slowly?  Is this a temporary phenomenon or a new normal?  Chris Farrell and Steve Cecchetti had a nice discussion about these questions this morning on Minnesota Public Radio (MPR).  Larry Summers first applied the term "secular stagnation" to these questions and there's been much debate about the idea ever since. (VoxEU published an e-book on the subject that is … [Read more...]

New research: returns to broadband investment

New Research: Returns to Broadband Investment

Should governments subsidize or build broadband networks? This question is being posed throughout the US; Brian Lambert summarizes the Minnesota landscape in “How the Legislature is cheating Greater Minnesota on broadband.” Economists aver that to answer this question, we need to know whether the rate of return to private businesses investing in broadband networks is less than or equal to the … [Read more...]