Welcome to capturedecon.wpengine.com, a new website dedicated to the problems of “regulatory capture” and “rent-seeking”—economist-speak for the pursuit of profits through politics.
The capitalist market economy functions well when rival firms compete to see who can best serve customers’ needs, but there is an abiding temptation for firms to try to rig the game instead—to rewrite the rules of the game in a way that advantages the established and politically connected at the expense of consumers, competitors, and everybody else. When this happens, as it does all too often today, the market economy is perverted into an engine of insider privilege and unjust enrichment. At capturedecon.wpengine.com, we intend to shine a spotlight on this dark underbelly of capitalism.
This website is an outgrowth of the book The Captured Economy by Brink Lindsey and Steven Teles, published in 2017 by Oxford University Press. We are launching the site with a focus on the four policy areas that served as case studies for the book: financial regulation, intellectual property protection, occupational licensing, and land-use regulation. In all of these policy domains, rent-seeking and regulatory capture have resulted in warped rules that undermine innovation and growth while adding to runaway gains at the top of the income distribution. We hope to add additional policy areas over time, as the four in question are unfortunately represent only part of our captured economy.
Our goal is to make the site a comprehensive repository of academic research and journalistic analysis of the policy areas we cover. To begin with, we’ve created a large “reference library” of sources that predate the website; each “reference card” contains bibliographical information, an abstract or a pull quote, and a link to the original publication. From this date forward, all new academic studies and news stories will be noted and linked on this blog, with new reference cards added to the reference library for each new source.
With this basic design, our goal is to make capturedecon.wpengine.com an indispensable resource for policymakers, journalists, and concerned citizens who are interested in this issue space. Rent-seeking thrives in the dark, obscure corners of democratic life—so let there be light!