Zoning Rules! Except When It Doesn’t

Name one relatively minor policy change that would lead to a 9.5 percent increase in GDP for the entire nation. If you said fixing zoning and land-use policies, you would be right. Well, at least according to a new paper by Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti.

According to their study, that much growth could be created by bringing land-use laws in San Francisco, San Jose, and New York, down to that of the average US city. Cato Institute scholar Brink Lindsey, in his just-released white paper, argues land-use policy reform is one of a few public-policy issues where scholars broadly agree that reform would yield notable amounts of growth.

And now even one of the most articulate defenders of zoning laws, Professor William Fischel from Dartmouth University, has joined the chorus, at least somewhat.

Fischel’s forthcoming book, Zoning Rules! The Economics of Land Use Regulation, is one of the most important pieces of scholarship in years related to how government regulates land. The author is one of the most accomplished economists to study this important field, and gives insights that few others can.

Read the rest on the PanAm Post here.

 

How the Feds Helped Bankrupt Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is full crisis mode, as signaled by Governor Alejandro García Padilla warning that the island’s debts are “not payable.” This is partially the fault of the island’s own government. The commonwealth has piled up a debt much larger as a percentage of GDP than any other state.

All major parties are to blame for over-promising and overspending, and the Puerto Rican government deserves most of the responsibility for the situation it finds itself in. Nevertheless, it is not entirely their fault.

The US federal government has many laws that disproportionately, and often inadvertently, harm the island. Policies that have little impact on the mainland can have dire consequences in Puerto Rico, partially because it’s a territory rather than a state, and partially because of the particulars of the island’s economy. A recent report on the island by economist Anne Krueger and others contains many such instances.

Read the rest on the PanAm Post here.