Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken is the editor of Mises Wire and The Austrian. Send him your article submissions, but read article guidelines first. (Contact: email; twitter.) Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado, and was the economist for the Colorado Division of Housing from 2009 to 2014. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

Articles by Ryan McMaken

The Evidence Keeps Piling up: Lockdowns Don’t Work

Audio Mises Wire

Extraordinary measures require extraordinary evidence. Have the advocates for lockdowns made their case? The data suggests they have not.

This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Michael Stack.
Original Article: "The Evidence Keeps Piling up: Lockdowns Don’t Work".

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Money Supply Growth in April Ballooned to a New High

YoY Change in money supply, 1998-2019

Fueled by unprecedented quantitative easing, central bank asset purchases, and various stimulus packages, the money supply growth rate ballooned in April to an all-time high. The growth rate has never been higher, with the 1970s as the only period that comes close. It was expected that money supply growth would surge in recent months. This usually happens in the wake of the early months of a recession or financial crisis.

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Police Are Complicit in Politicians’ Disregard for the Rule of Law

People of a certain age might remember the old John Birch Society slogan “Support your local police!” The idea here is that your local policeman is a liberty-loving buddy of yours who would only ever support just laws and constitutional mandates. Only those bad guys in the FBI or BATF would ever consider violating your rights.

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Thanks to Lockdowns, State and Local Tax Revenues Are Plummeting

Unlike the federal government, state and local governments in America can’t just create money out of thin air. So when tax revenues go down, that money is simply not available to the state legislatures and city councils anymore. These governments either have to borrow the money or raise taxes and hope the tax hike itself doesn’t cause total revenue to fall.

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Why Mexico Is Reluctant to Shut Down Its Economy to Combat COVID-19

Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been reluctant to impose mandatory “social distancing” orders on the Mexican population. According to USNews, López Obrador “has maintained a relaxed public attitude” toward COVID-19, and the Mexican government did not impose a ban on “non-essential” work until March 30, long after health officials in other countries insisted Mexico must do so.

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In March, US Deaths From COVID-19 Totaled Less Than 2 Percent of All Deaths

All US Deaths vs. US Covid-19 Deaths, March

About 2.9 million people die in the United States each year from all causes. Monthly this total ranges from around 220,000 in the summertime to more than 280,000 in winter. In recent decades, flu season has often peaked sometime from January to March, and this is a major driver in total deaths. The average daily number of deaths from December through March is over eight thousand.

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Money Supply Growth Climbs to 37-Month High

M2 and TMS/Rothbard-solerno Measure, 1998-2019

The money supply growth rate rose again in February, climbing to a 37-month high. The last time the growth rate was higher was during February of 2017, when the growth rate was 7.9 percent. During February 2020, year-over-year (YOY) growth in the money supply was at 7.49 percent. That’s up from January’s rate of 6.32 percent, and up from February 2019’s rate of 3.20 percent.

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The CDC’s Budget Is Larger Now Than Under Obama

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Operating Budget, 2016-2020

This is how the budget process in Washington begins. Step one: the president submits his budget to Congress. Step two: Congress puts the president’s budget in a drawer somewhere and forgets about it. Step three: Congress passes a budget it likes instead.

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The US Constitution Needs an Expiration Date

A unique feature of the Swiss Federal Constitution is the fact that the central government’s power to impose direct taxes on citizens expires every decade or so. In fact, the current taxing authority expires at the end of 2020. Fortunately for the Swiss republic’s central government, voters approved an extension (the “New Financial Regime 2021”) for another fifteen years in a March 2018 election.

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The Fed Slashes Rates as Powell Declares Economy “Strong”

Federal Funds Target Rate Since 1992

The Federal Reserve this morning slashed the target federal funds rate by 0.5 percent today. According to CNBC: The Federal Reserve moved to an enact an emergency interest rate cut after officials saw the coronavirus having a material impact on the economic outlook, Chairman Jerome Powell said Tuesday.

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The US’s “Free Trade” Isn’t Very Free

Taxes on US imports as a share of total imports value

The false notion that the US has eliminated virtually all of its barriers to foreign imports has been repeated more and more in recent years. The claim is made both by advocates for free trade and by critics of free trade. For instance, Patrick Buchanan has claimed only American elites “are beneficiaries to free trade” while implying the US either has free trade, or something close to it.

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The EU’s Latest Screw-You to the UK Shows a Big Problem with Trade Agreements

Global non-tariff barriers, 2009-2016:

All too often, discussion over trade deals focuses almost solely on tariffs. It’s true that tariffs—i.e., taxes—are always a significant barrier to free exchange at all levels, but there are also plenty of ways to block or lessen trade that are not primarily tariff-based. Recent conflicts over the pending negotiations between the UK and the EU are a reminder of this.

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The WTO Is Both Irrelevant and Unnecessary

Share of total tariff reduction, by type of liberalization1983–2003, by %:

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is in a state of crisis. When it comes to trade negotiations among large states like the US, India, and China, the WTO has been shown to be an organization that is largely irrelevant.

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Nationalism as National Liberation: Lessons from the End of the Cold War

During the early 1990s, as the world of the old Soviet Bloc was rapidly falling apart, Murray Rothbard saw it all for what it was: a trend of mass decentralization and secession unfolding before the world’s eyes. The old Warsaw Pact states of Poland, Hungary, and others won de facto independence for the first time in decades. Other groups began to demand full blown de jure secession as well.

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Brexit: Predictions of Economic Doom Show Why People Ignore “Experts”

The headline was unambiguous: ” Brexit Is Done: The U.K. Has Left the European Union .” As of January 31, The European Union (Withdrawal) Act of 2018 has become law and the United Kingdom has begun the withdrawal process from the European Union. The transition process will continue throughout 2020 as the UK and EU governments negotiate the nature of the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

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After November Surge, Money Supply Growth Slows in December

YoY Change in money supply, 1998-2019

The money supply growth rate rose in December slowed after a November surge of nearly six percent. During December 2019, year-over-year growth in the money supply was at 5.53 percent. That’s down from November’s rate of 5.9 percent, but was up from December 2018’s rate of 3.90 percent. The increase in money-supply growth in December continues a sizable reversal of the trend we saw for most of 2019.

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Why “One Man, One Vote” Doesn’t Work

The US Senate is increasingly targeted by left-wing think tanks and legislators for the fact it is based on “voter inequality.” According to critics, the Senate ensures small states are “overrepresented,”and the body favors voters in smaller and more sparsely populated states. In contrast,  reformers  hold up the concept of “one man, one vote” as an ideal and a solution.

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The Majority of Virginia Homicides Come from only Two Metro Areas

Virginia Homicides by City

In most times and places, crime tends to be a highly localized phenomenon. I have covered this for Mises.org at the national level, pointing out that homicide rates in, say, the Mountain West and New England are far lower than homicide rates in the Great Lakes region or the South. Gun-control laws clearly don’t explain these differences, since many places with rock-bottom homicide rates such as Idaho and Maine also have few controls on private gun ownership.

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US Debt Makes Us Dependent on Petrodollars — and on Saudi Arabia

The Iranian regime and the Saudi Arabian regime are longtime enemies, with both vying for control of the Persian Gulf region. Part of the conflict stems from religious differences — differences between Shia and Sunni muslim groups. But much of the conflict stems from mundane desires to establish regional dominance.

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A Fearful Fed Keeps Pouring Money Into the Repo Market

The Fed announced on Thursday it is adding another 83 billion in “in temporary liquidity to financial markets” And, in a development that will surprise no cynic anywhere, the Fed also noted it “may keep adding temporary money to markets for longer than policy makers had expected in September.”

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2019 Was a Bad Year For the “Only Cops Should Have Guns” Narrative

Total New Guns, Homicide Rate, 1986-2018

On December 29, an armed gunman entered the West Freeway Church of Christ in Texas and shot two members of the congregation. Within six seconds, a third member of the congregation drew a weapon and shot the gunman dead. The events were captured on live-streamed video, with the dramatic events — in the minds of many observers — highlighting the benefits of privately-owned firearms as a defense against armed criminals.

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Abolish the Office of the First Lady

It’s almost Christmas time again, and that means its time for White House politicians and staff to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on Christmas decorations and events for the White House.

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Embrace Unilateral Free Trade with the UK — Right Now

Boris Johnson’s Conservatives won an outright majority in yesterday’s general election, pushing the Tories to an 80-strong Commons majority in what the Daily Mail called a “staggering election landslide.” Given that the Conservatives employed an election slogan of “Get Brexit Done,” it appears the election was largely a referendum on Brexit.

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How California’s Government Plans to Make Wildfires Even Worse

Not every square inch of the planet earth is suitable for a housing development. Flood plains are not great places to build homes. A grove of trees adjacent to a tinder-dry national forest is not ideal for a dream home. And California’s chaparral ecosystems are risky places for neighborhoods.

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Politicians Want Thanksgiving To Be Political. Ignore Them.

Often, government-created holidays begin with a good premise — i.e., Independence Day, Armistice Day — and get worse from there. On Independence Day, instead of celebrating armed rebellion and secession, we now sing the praises of the government. Similarly, Armistice Day — a day designed to commemorate the end of a war — became Veterans Day, a day designed to honor government employees.

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Money-Supply Growth Accelerates to 28-Month High

M2 and TMS/Rothbard-Solerno Measure, 1998-2019

The money supply growth rate rose in October, climbing to a twenty-eight-month high. The last time the growth rate was higher was during July of 2017, when the growth rate was 5.07 percent. During October 2019, year-over-year growth in the money supply was at 4.95 percent. That’s up from September’s rate of 3.10 percent, and was up from October 2018’s rate of 3.49 percent.

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The Deep State: The Headless Fourth Branch of Government

School children learn that there are three branches of government: the legislative, executive, and judicial. In actual practice, however, there are four branches of government. The fourth is what for decades now has been called a “headless fourth branch of government,” the administrative state.

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Ocasio-Cortez is Wrong: We’re Not Working 80-Hour Weeks Now

Average Annual Hours Worked by Persons Engaged for United States, Hours, Annual 1950-2017

It has become nearly commonplace for pundits and politicians to claim that Americans are working more than ever before; that they’re working more jobs, and working longer hours — all for a lower income. During the Democratic debates this summer, for instance, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio claimed “the economic system now forces us to have two or three jobs just to get by.” Kamala Harris made similar comments.

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The American Middle Class Isn’t Disappearing — But it’s Not All Good News

Median Total Income, Households, in 2018 Dollars

I’m not of the opinion that the American economy is doing amazingly well. However, I’m also not of the opinion that it is falling apart, or that the American middle class is disappearing before our eyes. Nor is there is no one, single, magic statistic we can point to and say “see, we’re all worse off — or better off — now.” Aggregate economic data is by its very nature lacking in nuance, moreover, difference measures of economic growth and prosperity can be conflicting and woefully incomplete.

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If American Federalism Were Like Swiss Federalism, There Would Be 1,300 States

In a recent interview with Mises Weekends, Claudio Grass examined some of the advantages of the Swiss political system, and how highly decentralized politics can bring with it great economic prosperity, more political stability, and a greater respect for property rights. Since the Swiss political system of federalism is itself partially inspired by 19th-century American federalism, the average American can usually imagine in broad terms what the Swiss political system looks like.

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Don’t Confuse Immigration With Naturalization

As the immigration debate goes on, many commentators continue to sloppily ignore the difference between the concept of naturalization and the phenomenon of immigration. While the two are certainly related, they are also certainly not the same thing. Recognizing this distinction can help us to see the very real differences between naturalization, which is a matter of political privilege, and immigration, which simply results from the exercise of private property rights.

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When It Comes To Household Income, Sweden & Germany Rank With Kentucky

Last year, I posted an article titled “If Sweden and Germany Became US States, They Would be Among the Poorest States” which, produced a sizable and heated debate, including that found in the comments below this article at The Washington Post. The reason for the controversy, of course, is that it has nearly reached the point of dogma with many leftists that European countries enjoy higher standards of living thanks to more government regulation and more social benefits.

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