Obesity remains a serious health problem and it is no secret that many people want to lose weight. Behavioral economists typically argue that “nudges” help individuals with various decisionmaking flaws to live longer, healthier, and better lives. In an article in the new issue of Regulation, Michael L. Marlow discusses how nudging by government differs from nudging by markets, and explains why market nudging is the more promising avenue for helping citizens to lose weight.
In Bootleggers & Baptists: How Economic Forces and Moral Persuasion Interact to Shape Regulatory Politics, economists Bruce Yandle and Adam Smith explain how money and morality are often combined in politics to produce arbitrary regulations benefiting cronies, while constraining productive economic activities by the general public.
More than 80 years after its passage, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 still resonates in today’s debate over trade policy. Advocates of trade blame the law for deepening the Great Depression and warn of the economic damage from a reversion to protectionism. Skeptics of trade say its impact has been exaggerated. Economist and historian Douglas Irwin tells the messy and, at times, amusing story of how Congress dramatically raised tariffs in 1930 just as the world was plunging into depression, and analyzes the economic consequences of the most infamous trade bill ever enacted by Congress. Irwin then draws important lessons that can help today’s trade policymakers avoid the costly mistakes of the past.