How ‘Market Failure’ Arguments Lead to Misguided Policy

“Market failure” is a common justification for new government policies. Proponents of interventions love to point to instances of apparently imperfect markets and assume that government taxation, subsidies, and regulation can seamlessly perfect them, thus maximizing social welfare. But according to a new paper by Cato scholar Ryan Bourne, this simplistic approach—predicated on the idea that government can perfect markets—leads to more intervention or higher taxes than what is optimal and has significant unintended consequences.

The Myth of the Cyber Offense: The Case for Restraint

Great-power competition in the 21st century increasingly involves the use of cyber operations between rival states. But do cyber operations achieve their stated objectives? What are the escalation risks? Under what conditions could increasingly frequent and sophisticated cyber operations result in inadvertent escalation and the use of military force? A new paper from Marine Corps University professors Brandon Valeriano and Benjamin Jensen examines the character of cyber conflict through time, and recommends a more prudent and restrained approach to cyber operations.

Cato Sues SEC Over Gag Orders

Cato has sued the Securities and Exchange Commission in federal court, challenging the SEC’s policy of imposing perpetual gag orders on settling defendants in civil enforcement actions. The clear point of that policy is to prevent people with the best understanding of how the SEC uses its vast enforcement powers from sharing that knowledge with others. But silencing potential critics is not an appropriate use of government power and, as explained in Cato’s complaint, it plainly violates the First Amendment’s protections of free speech and a free press.

The Case for an Immigration Tariff: How to Create a Price-Based Visa Category

The current U.S. immigration system favors non-economic immigrants. About 81 percent of new immigrants are family members of American citizens or green card holders, whereas only 5 percent earn green cards for employment or investment purposes. Our rapidly changing economy requires a more dynamic immigration system that allows in types of economic immigrants who are barred under the current system. In a new study, Cato scholar Alex Nowrasteh proposes an additional visa category that would allow foreigners to work and live legally in the United States after paying a tariff.

Recent Commentary

The Deceptive Lure of Carlsonomics

By turning against markets, Tucker Carlson, Trump, and their fellow populists are turning against the single best tool for improving the lives of poor and working-class Americans.


February 4

America’s Border Wars: Inside the Constitution-free Zone

Featuring Vicki Gaubeca, Director, Southern Border Communities Coalition; Terry Bressi, Chief Engineer of the Spacewatch Project, University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Lab; Chris Montoya, 21-year Customs and Border Patrol veteran; Jennifer Johnson, Policy Director, Southern Border Communities Coalition; moderated by Patrick Eddington, Policy Analyst in Homeland Security and Civil Liberties, Cato Institute.

1:00PM to 3:00PM EST
Hayek Auditorium, Cato Institute

Of Special Note

Freedom: Art as the Messenger

Freedom: Art as the Messenger

The Cato Institute welcomes artists working in any medium to address the concept of Freedom: Art as the Messenger. We are living in an era where people are finding their combative voice but having little conversation or dialogue. The goal of this inaugural exhibition is to provide a medium for that conversation.

This exhibition invites all investigative points of view in all media; 2-D, 3-D, audio, and video. A full spectrum of interpretation is invited — whether personal, emotional, general, realistic or imagined, communal, or individual — addressing Freedom in all its manifestations through art.

Special! 10 Copies for $10

Cato Pocket Constitution

To encourage people everywhere to better understand and appreciate the principles of government that are set forth in America’s founding documents, the Cato Institute published this pocket-size edition.

Now Available

Home Study Resources

The Cato Institute offers a wealth of online educational audio and video resources, from self-paced guides on the ideas of liberty and the principles of economics, to exclusive, archived lectures by thinkers such as Milton Friedman and F. A. Hayek. Browse through some highlights of our collections, for personal study or for use in the classroom.

The Jones Act: Charting a New Course after a Century of Failure

For nearly 100 years the Jones Act has restricted the transportation of cargo between two points in the U.S. to ships that are U.S.-built, crewed, owned, and flagged. Meant to bolster the U.S. maritime industry, the Act has instead led to a steady deterioration in the number of ships, sailors, shipyards, and has imposed large economic burdens. This full-day conference examined the Act in greater detail and evaluated options for reform.