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Donald J. Boudreaux

Member of: FEE Faculty Network

Donald J. Boudreaux is a senior fellow with the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a Mercatus Center Board Member, and a professor of economics and former economics-department chair at George Mason University. He holds the Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center. He specializes in globalization and trade, law and economics, and antitrust economics.

Boudreaux is committed to making economics more accessible to a wider audience, and he has lectured across the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Europe on a wide variety of topics, including antitrust law and international trade. He is the author of the books Hypocrites and Half-Wits: A Daily Dose of Sanity from Cafe Hayek and Globalization. His articles appear in such publications as the Wall Street Journal and US News & World Report as well as numerous scholarly journals. He writes a blog (with Russell Roberts) called Cafe Hayek and a regular column on economics for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has appeared numerous times on John Stossel’s Fox show to discuss a range of economic issues.

Previously, he was president of the Foundation for Economic Education and an associate professor of legal studies and economics at Clemson University. He also serves as an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.

Boudreaux earned a PhD in economics from Auburn University and a law degree from the University of Virginia.

Donald J. Boudreaux's Articles

Why We'll Never Run Out of Jobs

As long as there is scarcity, there are unmet human desires. Most are too expensive to satisfy, but entrepreneurial innovation marshals resources in new and creative ways so that desires once too costly to satisfy become cost-effective to satisfy.

- January 21, 2017

The Task of the Economist in an Age of Mercantilism

We must offer a vision of economic process that is not natural to man’s ordinary way’s of thinking.  And faith in the efficacy of spontaneous coordination arises only from a thorough understanding which only economists are equipped to transmit.

- January 20, 2017

The Oldest Rhetorical Trick in the Book

Tell me if you've heard this one before...

- January 18, 2017

No Such Thing as "International" Economics

Without International Trade as an Economics sub-discipline, the general public would be spared the harm that's created when we discuss the inessential differences between trade that crosses political borders and trade that does not.

- January 12, 2017

Thomas Jefferson Foresaw the Bank Bailouts

A much older view, associated with Thomas Jefferson, holds that private finance will be smaller and less powerful only if the government is smaller and less powerful. Government inevitably becomes the partner and enabler of major financial institutions. Government’s attempts at oversight serve primarily to facilitate rent-seeking, which offers greater profit without greater productivity.

- January 09, 2017

At the Heart of Protectionism is a Fear of Prosperity

One of the gravest economic mistakes that humans can make is to forget that ours is unavoidably a world of scarcity.  In a world of superabundance, those who mistake their world as being one of scarcity will pay no price.  But in the real world, people who mistake their world as being one of superabundance will pay a high price.  It is a very costly error.

- January 08, 2017

The Lament of the Merely Decent Economist

I will spend 2017 repeating again and again – and again and again and again, ad nauseam – basic, fundamental, intro-to-economic truths. I’m apparently not smart enough to understand why that which basic economics makes visible to me really is unreal or irrelevant.

- January 04, 2017

Prohibitionists Control Others to Satisfy Their Egos

As it was in Prohibition times, so it remains today on so many other fronts – including, of course, the war on drugs and the cruel intrusions of the FDA.

- December 30, 2016

Debate: Gold or Fiat Money?

"I’ve never understood why the state any more should control the supply of money than it should control the supply of wheat or of steel or of rubber bands.  That is, I’ve never seen any reason why money cannot be and should not be supplied privately." ~ Don Boudreaux 

- December 28, 2016

What Jonathan Swift Thought of Politicians

Johan Norberg, in his superb new book Progress brings to light a devastating passage from Gulliver's Travels.

- December 27, 2016

Why Does the Minimum Wage Debate Never End?

When you drop pebbles into a pool, it increases the water level in the pool. There is no furious empirical debate about this. Why then do economists furiously debate an equally central and indisputably correct tenet of their science? The laws of economics don't change simply because powerful ideologues want them to.

- December 22, 2016

Free Trade Breaks Down Pride, Revenge, Hatred, and Jealousy

One of my favorite quotations is from paragraph 17 of a speech that the great Richard Cobden delivered in London on September 28, 1843. This speech marked a remarkable moment in the history of nations, a decisive break with the mercantilism of the past and a new era of peace and free trade among nations. 

- December 22, 2016

The False Promise of Populism

But what folly it is to think that vice and passion are limited by classes, that liberty consists only in taking power away from nobles and priests and giving it to artisans and peasants and that these latter will never abuse it!  They will abuse it just as all others have done unless they are put under checks and guarantees,

- December 09, 2016

What President Jed Bartlet Knew that Our Actual President-Elect Doesn't

President Jed Bartlet from The West Wing makes a great case for free trade and creative destruction.

- December 05, 2016

An Open Letter to Generalissimo Trump

How do you anticipate business executives will respond to your bullying threats?  Are you truly so stupid as not to understand that among the results of your intimidation is that fewer firms will open in America?

- December 04, 2016

"Buying Local" Is as Senseless as "Buying Tall"

Most people understand that a “Buy Tall” movement would make those tall people who adhered to it poorer, not richer.  But insert the word “local” behind the word “Buy” and many people fall for the crazy notion that those who “Buy local” will make themselves and their local communities economically richer.

- December 02, 2016

The Pretense of Omniscience

Many politicians, professors, and pundits claim to possess an always-mysterious means of divining knowledge that is more full and superior to that of individuals on the ground.

- November 27, 2016

Government Experts Can't Give You A Happy Life

You, the real expert, are overridden by the pretend experts in government who increasingly dictate the terms of your employment, the food choices you have, and the medical decisions you can make.

- November 13, 2016

Even Victorian England Knew the Minimum Wage Was a Bad Idea

The theory that minimum wages discharged the least productive workers had been a constant of Anglophone political economy, dating to John Stuart Mill. The fact that minimum wages cause the least "desirable" people to be priced out of jobs was, for “Progressives” of a century ago, a feature of minimum wages, and not a bug.

- November 08, 2016

How Minimum Wage Laws Created the Company Store

Efforts by the state to arbitrarily change one dimension of an employment relationship (say, by mandating higher hourly wages) are rather easily offset by changes in other dimensions.

- November 07, 2016

Protectionists Are Wrong about Unemployment

In the past four decades, during a time of expanding trade and globalization, the U.S. workforce and total employment have each roughly doubled with no long-term upward trend in the unemployment rate.

- November 04, 2016

The Economy Isn't an Engineering Project

Pointing out that the GDP machine isn’t a real machine, and that its levers, pedals, knobs, and buttons are largely imaginary fancies of arrogant imaginations, market-oriented economists invite the scorn of Engineering economists.

- November 03, 2016

The Adventures of the Mercantilist Burglar

If a burglar followed Donald Trumps economic advice, he would break into a house, leave some items there in exchange for only a thank you note, and consider himself better off because of it.

- November 02, 2016

Condescending Elites vs. The Vulgar Masses

And if the creative destruction producing its irritating novelties is tested commercially we can at least be assured that on balance the mass of the people prefer it, in their vulgar, massy ways. One suspects that the conservatives of left and right don’t much like the “mass” and its badly informed preferences.  Let us take care of you, they cry. Let tradition celebrated by wise elders, or planning implemented by wise experts, guide you, oh you sadly misled mass. And offstage the ancient lords and the cosy monopolists look on such conservative theorizing by the clerisy with delight, assured by it that their rents will be preserved.

- October 30, 2016

Bring on the Chinese Investors

When an American invests in a factory in Ohio, everyone celebrates. When a Chinese investor does the same, nothing changes except Donald Trump's rhetoric.

- October 29, 2016

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