environmental economics

What’s New in Environmental Economics?

Some interesting recent publications.

It sometimes takes awhile for journals to reach my desk as they circulate among faculty, so this isn’t hot off the presses.  But I’ve been looking at some recent issues of JEEM (the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management), and I found a number of very interesting articles.  Fully grasping the articles would require a …


Jobs & Regs

The empirical evidence suggests that job loss from regulation is small.

It seems to be easy to make arguments one way or another about the effect of regulation on jobs.  What does the evidence say?  Those seeking an answer would do well to look at a recent book on the subject by Coglianese, Finkel, and Carrigan.  Although the book is broader in scope, it provides a careful …


The Bogus Trade-Off Between the Environment and Jobs

Paul Krugman has a NY Times column arguing, from a Keynesian point of view, that Obama’s climate change program won’t cost jobs.  One of my  posts a couple of years ago suggested the same idea: in a slack economy, regulatory requirements are a form of stimulus that can actually create jobs because industry has to spend …


Discount Rates and Middle-Class Stagnation

Discount rates are how economists measure the importance of the future versus the present.  If the discount rate is low, we care a lot about the future; the reverse is true if the rate is high. It turns out that one of the key factors driving the discount rate — maybe the key factor — is …


OMB’s Dubious Claim to Regulatory Expertise

The head of OIRA – the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at OMB– is often called the White House’s regulation czar.  OIRA is charged with reviewing the cost-benefit analysis of all major government regulations.  This task is all about economics. Yet OIRA has never established the kind of reputation for economics expertise held by …


Why the Environment Requires Government Protection: Some Simple Economics

The key to understanding the economics of environmental protection is the concept of externalities.  An externality is simply a cost that one person or firm imposes on another. In general, an externality means that an activity is causing more harm than it should. Of course, a company or individual could decide to voluntarily correct the …


Environmentalists versus Economists: Time for a Truce?

Environmentalists should rethink their view of environmental economics, for both intellectual and practical reasons.


Accounting for The Harm of Coal

Much of the effort to rollback current EPA regulations focuses on coal-fired electrical power plants.  An article in the August issues of the American Economic Review sheds light on the issues at stake.  “Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy” is an effort to assess the damages caused by various polluting activities. The …


Environmental Law and “The Law of the Horse”

“The Law of the Horse” is the title of the (perhaps apocryphal) treatise on the same subject.  The point of the reference is that “there’s no there there,” as Gertrude Stein might have said: the law of the horse would simply be a compendium of contract cases that happened to involve horses, tort cases that …


Why Economists Are Right and the Tea Party is Wrong About Government

The idea that the government should protect public goods and regulate externalities is just common sense.As I said earlier, economists tend to be fairly hard-nosed in applying these arguments, and they tend to favor cap-and-trade or pollution taxes more than conventional regulation. They also tend (in the view of some of us) to undervalue economic benefits and shortchange long-term human interests. But it would be hard to find a reputable economist, for example, who thinks we should do nothing about climate change, although there’s plenty of disagreement about how much we should do and how quickly.