The Cato Papers on Public Policy was an annual publication of highly innovative articles by recognized national experts on contemporary economic and public policy issues–with a particular focus on critically evaluating the limits of government policies and on providing potential improvements and solutions. Three issues were published in 2011–14.


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  • Off‐​Balance‐​Sheet Federal Liabilities
    Much attention has been given to the recent growth of the U.S. federal debt. This paper examines the growth of federal liabilities that are not included in the official debt numbers. Those numbers take the form of implicit or explicit government guarantees and commitments.
  • Liberty for More: Finance and Educational Opportunities
    U.S. banking reforms—which reduced interest rates—boosted college enrollment rates among able students from middle‐​class families. We define “able” students as those with learning aptitude scores in the top two‐​thirds of the U.S. population.
  • Foreign Scientists and Engineers and Economic Growth
    Attracting highly educated immigrants—especially scientists and engineers—is a potentially effective economic growth–promoting strategy. This paper evaluates the contribution of foreign‐​born scientists and engineers to the wage and employment growth of native‐​born workers.
  • Evaluating Policies to Prevent Another Crisis: An Economist’s View
    I consider four policies created to address the financial crisis: (a) the ability‐​to‐​repay requirement in mortgage underwriting, (b) reform of rating agency compensation, (c) risk retention in securitization, and (d) mandatory loan renegotiation.


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  • The French Gold Sink and the Great Deflation of 1929–32
    Analyzing how the French failure to monetize gold inflows in the late 1920s and early 1930s contributed to the overall reduction in world gold reserves and impacted the world price level.
  • An Empirical Analysis of the Fed’s Term Auction Facility
    The effectiveness of the Term‐​Auction Facility program, one of the main tools used by the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis.
  • Executive Compensation and Corporate Governance in the United States: Perceptions, Facts, and Challenges
    Evidence to dispute the conventional wisdom that U.S. CEOs, top executives, and corporate governance are being paid more and more, and not being penalized for poor performance.
  • General Equilibrium Effects of Prison on Crime: Evidence from International Comparisons
    The 500% increase in the rate of imprisonment between 1970–2000 and an empirical approach to measuring how deterrence and incapacitation can affect crime reduction.


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  • Can the Treasury Exempt Its Own Companies from Tax? The $45 Billion General Motors Net Operating Loss Carryforward
    How the U.S. Treasury used arcane provisions of the tax code to manufacture a tax break for political supporters during the bailout of General Motors, masking the true cost of the bailouts of GM and other firms.
  • Free to Punish? The American Dream and Harsh Treatment of Criminals
    In comparison to many penal systems in the rest of the world, Americans are much harsher in their treatment of criminals. This article looks at the causes, revealing how the American Dream may be to blame.
  • Competition and Innovation
    Compelling analysis of how patents that are easily assigned and strictly enforced for a long period of time do not promote innovation, but instead impede it.
  • Labor Market Dysfunction during the Great Recession
    The impact of mortgage modifications on the labor market recovery, showing that reductions in mortgage payments based on borrowers’ current income skews incentives for households to relocate to a stronger labor market and lowers both employment and productivity.