Regulation Book

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The book web page has draft chapters.

Daniel Carpenter Expert Blindness

From Tyler Cowen's interview with Daniel Carpenter we see Carpenter being incredibly stupid:

COWEN: Which are the most and least captured federal agencies in the technical use of that term?

CARPENTER: Oh, good question. Hmmm. I don’t have a rank ordering for you, from which I can draw the top and the bottom. Knowing some people who’ve been involved in the space, and seeing also what’s gone on worldwide, I would say one agency that has been captured or plausibly captured would be the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The first is, there’s a paper that your audience should check out by my student, Brian Libgober. He’s a collaborator of mine too, and what he did — excuse the digression, but I think it’s a very important paper. If you look at the Volcker rule, for instance, it was a multi-agency rule issued under Dodd-Frank.

Long before the comments rolled in, there were a set of hundreds of meetings with the agency that happened even before the notice of proposed rulemaking. Essentially, the architecture that we have in the Administrative Procedure Act doesn’t regulate those meetings at all.


CARPENTER: I would say two things. Number one, it’s a brute mechanism, but the mechanism of what I would call approval regulation, which is, basically, the FDA as a veto player granting access to profitable markets creates very, very powerful incentives for R&D. Those are incentives that we would otherwise not have.

COWEN: You can often get better data when you do a human challenge trial. Do you favor those? Should the federal government have started those in, say, May?

CARPENTER: Yes, I can see an argument for that. A challenge trial, yes, I think that’s fine.

COWEN: That seems like a huge gain. It’s not a small thing. Hardly any public health people came out for them. Derek Lowe said he wasn’t on board. It would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives if our public health establishment —

CARPENTER: I’m not sure about that causal estimate.

COWEN: Well, say the vaccines would have been ready by October. The whole winter wave, we would have had significant protection against, and yet hardly any public health experts will come out for this.

CARPENTER: Again, I’m going to put out a different counterfactual, Tyler. Again, part of this is inseparable from the fact that we just had a really, really divisive election, but I actually think one big feature of the increased confidence in the vaccines is that they were approved after the election.

I’m not saying they should have been, but I’m saying if you were to rush things out in September and October, which was precisely when vaccine confidence was at its nadir — was actually much higher during the summer beforehand, but it had sunk again 10 to 15 percentage points — you would have had a vaccine that tens of millions of people were not taking.