Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sam Clovis, Blake Hurst, John Cochrane-Economic Growth, Regulatory Uncertainty, and Agriculture

In an AgWeb blog post I wrote back in 2009 (More Regulation for Global Agriculture ) where I quoted:

"We may well see increasing public control by human decision-makers over almost every detail of food production, marketing, and distribution." 

 I concluded:

"Hopefully, we won't have to waste a decade mired in stagnation while we rediscover the basic principles of individualism, freedom, and liberty that made this country so exceptional"

Fast forward almost 7 years later Sam Clovis (an advisor to Donald Trump for Agriculture) discussed a number of policies on Agritalk. A lot of details were discussed, but the most important thing relates to a general attitude Sam has in favor of less regulation.  Clovis intends that Trump will take this head on:
“Mr. Trump on day one of his presidency will impose a moratorium on rule-writing,” he says. “Then, each department will have 30 days on the rules that have been written over the past five years so we can have a look at them.”

Also related to this,Blake Hurst offers a nice anecdotal story titled 'Missouri Farmer Discusses  The Unbelievable Reality of Regulation' recently on AgWeb about Charlie and John, who own a small fertilizer plant and are farmers respectively and the challenges they face from over-regulation.

"Our present regulatory state can’t be believed if you haven’t been in the crosshairs of government bureaucrats. It can’t be parodied or made fun of, because no matter what “myth” we farmers might make up, the reality is even worse, and more strange. It’s past time to reform this system and rein in a government that seemingly knows no limits."

This is not just about agriculture, but nationally, when you look at income stagnation and consumer confidence and overall national growth its the same story. Recently, and timely, on EconTalk, Russ Roberts talks with John Cochrane about regulation and economic growth:

John: "if you think about the important issues of economic policy, economic growth is it. It just begins and ends at economic growth…..just nothing matters as much as reestablishing or improving on the traditional growth rates....it's not just more stuff: it's better stuff--better health, better environment, ability to pay off the government's debts, ability to pay for our social programs--really just everything hinges on economic growth…..people talk about the stagnation in middle class incomes and so forth. That's a phenomenon of the slowdown of growth"

And what is causing this slowdown- they discuss several possible theories, but most plausible is, you guessed it...regulation:

"My view is that we have creeping regulation sanding the gears. What's hard about this is every little market is screwed up. There isn't one big 'Aha,' we just need a stimulus program and we're all done. But if every little market is screwed up then the economy as a whole slows down.....To your question, there are plenty of measures that say the American economy is losing its dynamism. I think one new bank has been chartered since the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, and that was designed to help Amish people. No new health insurers; in fact, lots of health insurers are disappearing. We are heading towards industries--banking and health insurance are heading toward a very European model: 3 or 4 very regulated"

And how many major players are we looking at in the Ag sector when it comes to seed and chemicals? About three depending on the pending deals we see on the table now.

Additional Comments and Links:

Its not just regulations themselves that are causing stagnation, but the uncertain environment they create

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