Economic History

Mike Jensen on CEO Pay

Kevin Murphy reflects on his seminal work with the late Michael Jensen, reassessing their influential findings on CEO compensation in light of the dramatic changes in executive pay practices and market conditions since the 1990s. In this piece, Murphy shares the journey of their research collaboration, the challenges they faced, and the evolution of their thoughts on executive compensation.

A Famed Economist’s Public Company U-Turn

Michael Jensen, a leading late 20th century economist, pivoted from praising public companies in the 1970s to assailing public company governance in the 1980s and 1990s. Disappointment that corporate executives did much to thwart takeover activity prompted Jensen’s 180-degree turn. 

Henry Simons And The Libertarian Night Watchman As Tax Collector

Henry Simons, one of the fathers of Chicago economics, advocated for libertarian policies promoting free markets as well as wealth redistribution through highly progressive income taxation, reflecting his belief that concentrations of private economic power were as threatening to liberty as centralized government power. Daniel Shaviro demonstrates that, for Simons and other early to mid-20th century libertarian thinkers, including Milton Friedman and George Stigler, policies promoting economic equality might be seen as complementary to, rather than conflicting with, support for free market capitalism and limited government intervention.

How Post-WWII Inflation Benefited Republican Presidential Candidates

American households accumulated a large stock of savings during World War II, much of which was held in the form of war bonds. After the war, inflationary episodes eroded the purchasing power of these bonds, contributing to a backlash against the incumbent Democrats. In new research, Gillian Brunet, Eric Hilt, and Matthew S. Jaremski study the impact of post-WWII inflation on voting outcomes using data on the sales of savings bonds during the war.

How the Democratic Party Lost Less-Educated Voters

In a new paper, Ilyana Kuziemko, Nicolas Longuet-Marx, and Suresh Naidu point to a shift in the Democratic Party’s economic policy, from predistribution to redistribution, as one of the reasons why it has lost less-educated voters.

Setting the Record Straight on Historical Industrial Policy

While governments have forged ahead with various industrial policies in areas such as clean energy and semiconductors, we still have much to learn about the historical efficacy of such interventions. Réka Juhász and Claudia Steinwender evaluate the growing literature on nineteenth century industrial policy and possible paths for future research.

After Neoliberalism

The following is an excerpt from Martin Daunton's new book, "The Economic Government of the World: 1933-2023," out November 14.

Revisiting Milton Friedman

The following is an excerpt from Jennifer Burns' new book "Milton Friedman, The Last Conservative," out November 14.

The Shared Roots of (Neo-)Brandeisianism and Ordoliberalism Suggest How To Regulate Big Tech

In new research, Manuel Wörsdörfer compares the philosophies of two formative antitrust thinkers writing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States and Europe: Louis D. Brandeis and Walter Eucken. A discussion of their body of thought highlights the antitrust concerns of the time and how their positions can be adapted to today’s regulatory environment, particularly regarding Big Tech.

How Anthony Downs’s Analysis Explains Rational Voters’ Preferences for Populism

In new research, Cyril Hédoin and Alexandre Chirat use the rational-choice theory of economist Anthony Downs to explain how populism rationally arises to challenge established institutions of liberal democracy.

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