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OpenMarket: Regulatory Reform

  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    March 30, 2015 12:10 PM

    Along with last wwek’s usual slew of final regulations covering everything from power plants to televisions, an additional 55 proposed regulations also hit the books.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 58 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 68 new regulations the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 54 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 674 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 2,856 new regulations this year, which would be nearly 1,000 fewer rules than the usual total.
    • Last week, 1,398 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,157 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 16,531 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 70,047 pages.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Six such rules have been published so far this year, one in the past week.
    • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $693 million to $746 million for the current year.
    • Sixty-two final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
    • So far in 2015, 137 new rules affect small businesses; 23 of them are classified as significant. 
  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    March 23, 2015 7:15 AM

    New rules published in the last week include everything from the IRS and Executive Office of the President declaring themselves exempt from select transparency laws, to requirements for observing sea turtles.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 68 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 60 new regulations the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 28 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 616 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 2,852 new regulations this year, which would be nearly 1,000 fewer rules than the usual total.
    • Last week, 1,157 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,242 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 15,133 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 70,061 pages.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Six such rules have been published so far this year, one in the past week.
    • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $693 million to $746 million for the current year.
    • Fifty-nine final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
    • So far in 2015, 127 new rules affect small businesses; 21 of them are classified as significant. 
  • The Republican Budget and Middle Class Economics

    March 18, 2015 12:35 PM

    Yesterday the House Republicans released their “Balanced Budget for a Stronger America” and the Senate Republicans will release their budget proposal today.

    House Republicans would cut $5 trillion over 10 years and get rid of Obamacare. Their main goal is to balance the budget without raising taxes over that 10-year period. I wrote about this in Forbes yesterday.

    Republicans are more likely however to dissipate energy fighting amongst themselves over increased defense spending.

    Obama, by contrast, will respond to the House and Senate Republicans by giving a speech reiterating his “Middle-Class economics” pitch, which, in short means more spending and more government. Democrats will unite behind this.

    Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget proposal called for $3.999 trillion, just shy of the four-trillion-dollar heights we were in during the downturn. On our current path, the deficit would be $1 trillion in 10 years. The Republicans would spend $3.8 trillion in 2016, so their future cuts would need to be aggressive to really attain a balance at the end of the decade.

    The president seeks seven percent spending increases in both domestic and military. He wants taxpayers to provide free community college for C-students.

    He wants big new infrastructure spending projects including an “infrastructure bank” at the level of some half a trillion over six years. Stimulus anyone? Why not, since it worked so well before.

  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    March 16, 2015 12:41 PM

    An otherwise slow week ended with a bang on Friday, with 27 new regulations, or nearly half the week’s total, covering everything from calorie counts to gas vapors.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 60 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 72 new regulations the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 48 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 548 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 2,796 new regulations this year, which would be nearly 1,000 fewer rules than the usual total.
    • Last week, 1,157 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,242 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 13,467 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 68,710 pages.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Five such rules have been published so far this year, none in the past week.
    • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $647 million to $700 million for the current year.
    • Fifty-five final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
    • So far in 2015, 111 new rules affect small businesses; 19 of them are classified as significant. 
  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    March 9, 2015 7:36 AM

    The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the King v. Burwell case last week. The decision, likely to appear in June, will determine in part whether regulatory agencies are allowed to rewrite legislation passed by Congress. Other than that, it was business as usual, with new regulations covering everything from 15 EPA rules to school lunches.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 72 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 65 new regulations the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 20 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 488 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 2,542 new regulations this year, which would be roughly 1,000 fewer rules than the usual total.
    • Last week, 1,242 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,715 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 12,310 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 69,944 pages.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Five such rules have been published so far this year, none in the past week.
    • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $647 million to $700 million for the current year.
    • Forty-eight final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
    • So far in 2015, 108 new rules affect small businesses; 17 of them are classified as significant. 
  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    March 2, 2015 12:27 PM

    The FCC, inspired by a law passed in 1934, unveiled its controversial plan to regulate the Internet as a public utility. Beyond that it was a week like any other, with new regulations covering everything from biomass crops to walk-in freezers.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 65 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 40 new regulations the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 28 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 416 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 2,667 new regulations this year, which would be roughly 1,000 fewer rules than the usual total.
    • Last week, 1,715 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,118 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 11,068 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 70,949 pages.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Five such rules have been published so far this year, one in the past week.
    • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $647 million to $700 million for the current year.
    • Forty-two final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
    • So far in 2015, 97 new rules affect small businesses; 15 of them are classified as significant. 
  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    February 23, 2015 7:26 AM

    In a very cold, holiday-shortened week, federal agencies issued 40 final and 33 proposed regulations covering everything from lithium-ion batteries to small fish in Oregon.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 40 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 57 new regulations the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every four hours and 12 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 351 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 2,581 new regulations this year, which would be roughly 1,000 fewer rules than the usual total.
    • Last week, 1,118 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,341 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 9,353 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 68,772 pages, which would be the lowest page count since 1992.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Three such rules have been published so far this year, none in the past week.
    • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations is $630 million for the current year.
    • Twenty-nine final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
    • So far in 2015, 75 new rules affect small businesses; nine of them are classified as significant. 
  • How to Help Tesla and Taxpayers

    February 20, 2015 12:59 PM

    Policies aimed at reducing auto emissions in California and 10 other states are having a troubling set of unintended consequences, according to a recent editorial at Bloomberg View. Editors point out that the “zero-emissions” credits program ends up amounting to a subsidy for electric carmaker Tesla Motors of up to $30,000 per car sold, penalizing the buyers of nonelectric vehicles who end up underwriting the purchase of someone else’s $100,000 Model S. In addition, electric cars may not even be much “greener” than their nonelectric counterparts, when one considers the time of day these cars are charged as well as the source of the electricity—in many parts of the country, exchanging a conventional vehicle for an electric one means trading a gasoline-powered car for one powered by coal.

    The Bloomberg editors, unfortunately, suggest solving the problem with two even worse policies: stricter fuel economy standards and a carbon tax. Perhaps if they had read this post by my colleague Richard Morrison, they might also consider a free market approach to the auto industry. Richard suggests treating Tesla fairly by ending both the apparent war against their retail strategy of selling directly to consumers (or owning their own dealerships), as well as eliminating the huge tax subsidies being offered by states like Nevada and New York. If Tesla makes cars that are as awesome as they are made out to be, then surely the company will find consumers who want to drive them—without having to pick their neighbors’ pockets.

  • Does Regulation Hurt Innovation?

    February 19, 2015 2:12 PM

    How much does regulation crimp innovation? Not very much, according to a new study from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Nathan Goldschlag and George Mason University’s Alex Tabarrok. They find that “Federal regulation has had little to no effect on declining dynamism.” In other words, fewer businesses are starting up today than in previous years, but the authors don’t think federal regulations are among the major causes (see also Tabarrok’s summary over at Marginal Revolution).

    That said, the authors are unsure of what else might be responsible: “The subsequent analysis will be unable to address the declining share of employment for young firms as evidence for the secular decline in dynamism and entrepreneurship (p.9).”

    They base their regulation exoneration on a dataset called RegData, put together by analysts at the Mercatus Center (disclosure: one of whom is a former professor of mine). It is the best dataset yet devised for quantifying federal regulatory burdens. I’ve cited it before in some of my own work, and will very likely do so again. RegData works by counting the number of times the terms “shall,” “must,” “may not,” “prohibited,” and “required” appear in the Code of Federal Regulations. These individual restrictions are then broken down by industry and over time, going back to 1997. The total number of such restrictions currently in effect is more than one million.

    But RegData has limits, and Goldschlag and Tabarrok have exceeded them. RegData counts the number of burdens, but does not estimate how much each one costs. These costs are over the map. One “shall” burden may be nearly costless, such as requiring a business to post a notice of local labor practices in the break room. Given the cost of printing posters and the minute or two of staff time required to hang it up every year, this may or may not cost a business a dollar per year. Another “shall” requiring power plant scrubbers may cost billions of dollars per year. Even though those rules both count as one restriction, they have very different costs.

    RegData is state-of-the-art. But the art needs to improve its state before one can convincingly argue that the Code of Federal Regulations doesn’t harm economic dynamism.

  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    February 16, 2015 9:42 AM

    In a week like any other, regulatory agencies issued more than 50 new rules covering everything from from rockfish to wine.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 57 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 59 new regulations the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 57 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 311 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 2,592 new regulations this year, which would be roughly 1,000 fewer rules than the usual total.
    • Last week, 1,341 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,445 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 6,885 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 68,850 pages, which would be the lowest page count since 1992.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Three such rules have been published so far this year, one in the past week.
    • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations is $630 million for the current year.
    • Twenty-seven final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
    • So far in 2015, 67 new rules affect small businesses; seven of them are classified as significant. 

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