Mercatus Center
The Mercatus Center at George Mason University
George Mason University
George Mason University is a public university based in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, south of and adjacent to the city of Fairfax. Additional campuses are located nearby in Arlington County, Prince William County, and Loudoun County...

 (GMU) in the United States is a non-profit market-oriented research, education, and outreach think tank
Think tank
A think tank is an organization that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, and technology issues. Most think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax...

 affiliated with the Koch family
Koch Family Foundations
Koch Family Foundations is the informal name for a group of charities in the United States of America associated with the family of Fred C. Koch. The most prominent of these are the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, created by two of Fred C...

. It works with policy experts, lobbyists, and government officials to connect academic learning and real-world practice. The Mercatus Center takes its name from the Latin word meaning "markets", and reflects the Center's free market-based approach to solving public policy problems.


The Mercatus Center was founded by Rich Fink
Richard H. Fink
Richard H. Fink is an American businessman and academic. He is an executive vice president of Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in the U.S.-Education and academic career:...

, who has worked closely with the Koch family
Koch family
The Koch family of industrialists and businessmen is most notable for their control of Koch Industries, the second largest privately owned company in the United States. The family business was started by Fred C. Koch, who developed a new cracking method for the refinement of heavy oil into...

 foundations and political activities. As of August 2010 he headed Koch Industries’ lobbying operation in Washington DC and is former president of the Koch Family Foundations
Koch Family Foundations
Koch Family Foundations is the informal name for a group of charities in the United States of America associated with the family of Fred C. Koch. The most prominent of these are the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, created by two of Fred C...

, which funds a network of market-oriented think tanks and advocacy groups. Originally it was called the Center for Market Processes and established at the Rutgers University
Rutgers University
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey , is the largest institution for higher education in New Jersey, United States. It was originally chartered as Queen's College in 1766. It is the eighth-oldest college in the United States and one of the nine Colonial colleges founded before the American...

. After the providing of more than thirty million dollars to the George Mason University from the Koch Family, the center moved to George Mason in the mid-1980s before assuming its current name in 1999. The Mercatus Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit and does not receive support from George Mason University or any federal, state or local government, but rather is entirely funded through donations, including some from companies like Koch Industries
Koch Industries
Koch Industries, Inc. , is an American private energy conglomerate based in Wichita, Kansas, with subsidiaries involved in manufacturing, trading and investments. Koch also owns Invista, Georgia-Pacific, Flint Hills Resources, Koch Pipeline, Koch Fertilizer, Koch Minerals and Matador Cattle Company...

 and ExxonMobil, individual donors and foundations. As of 2011, the center shows that 58% of its funding comes from foundations, 40% from individuals, and 2% from businesses.

Stated mission

The organization describes itself as "the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas" that aims to bridge "the gap between academic ideas and real-world problems." By advancing knowledge about how markets can work to improve lives and individual freedoms, by training graduate students, conducting research, and applying economic principles, they hope to offer solutions to society’s most pressing problems.

Mercatus has several research and outreach programs: Capitol Hill Campus, the Government Accountability Project, the Regulatory Studies Program, and the Global Prosperity Initiative.

Observers' comments

Washington Post columnist Al Kamen has described Mercatus as a "staunchly anti-regulatory center funded largely by Koch Industries Inc." Rob Stein, the Democratic strategist, has called it "ground zero for deregulation policy in Washington.” The Wall Street Journal has called the Mercatus Center “the most important think tank you’ve never heard of.”

Recent activity

In 2001, the Office of Management and Budget asked for public input on which regulations should be revised or killed. Mercatus submitted 44 of the 71 proposals the OMB received.

Mercatus organizes an active African research activity, Enterprise Africa!, in cooperation with the Institute of Economic Affairs
Institute of Economic Affairs
The Institute of Economic Affairs , founded in 1955, styles itself the UK's pre-eminent free-market think-tank. Its mission is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social...

 of the United Kingdom, the Free Market Foundation of South Africa, and the John Templeton Foundation
John Templeton Foundation
"The John Templeton Foundation is a philanthropic organizationthat funds inter-disciplinary research about human purpose and ultimate reality. It is usually referred to simply as the Templeton Foundation...

. Mercatus holds that the only sustainable solution to alleviate Africa's seemingly continuous trifecta of serious socioeconomic problems - poverty
Poverty in Africa
Poverty in Africa refers to the lack of basic human needs faced by certain segments of African society. African nations typically fall toward the bottom of any list measuring small size economic activity, such as income per capita or GDP per capita, despite a wealth of natural resources...

, famine, and political corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 - is not from year-after-year of monetary aid provided by western governments, but rather from entrepreneurship and development from within Africa, to help destroy the problems from the ground up by supporting African innovators directly.

In 1997, the Mercatus Center opposed the enforcement of ozone production levels on industry by the United States Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

(EPA) under the Clean Air Act
Clean Air Act
A Clean Air Act is one of a number of pieces of legislation relating to the reduction of airborne contaminants, smog and air pollution in general. The use by governments to enforce clean air standards has contributed to an improvement in human health and longer life spans...

. In its analysis of the proposed regulatory changes, the EPA estimated that the costs of "partially attaining" the new standards would be between $600 million and $6.3 billion per year, exceeding their projected health and welfare benefits of between zero and $2.1 billion per year.

Recent structure

The Mercatus Center is located on George Mason University's Arlington
Arlington County, Virginia
Arlington County is a county in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The land that became Arlington was originally donated by Virginia to the United States government to form part of the new federal capital district. On February 27, 1801, the United States Congress organized the area as a subdivision of...

 Campus, and is affiliated with GMU's Economics department. The Provost of George Mason University has the power to appoint a Faculty Director to head up the Mercatus Center. The Center's current Faculty Director is GMU economics professor Tyler Cowen
Tyler Cowen
Tyler Cowen is an American economist, academic, and writer. He occupies the Holbert C. Harris Chair of economics as a professor at George Mason University and is co-author, with Alex Tabarrok, of the popular economics blog Marginal Revolution...

. Other Board members include Nobel Laureate Vernon L. Smith
Vernon L. Smith
Vernon Lomax Smith is professor of economics at Chapman University's Argyros School of Business and Economics and School of Law in Orange, California, a research scholar at George Mason University Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, and a Fellow of the Mercatus Center, all in Arlington,...

, former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese
Edwin Meese
Edwin "Ed" Meese, III is an attorney, law professor, and author who served in official capacities within the Ronald Reagan Gubernatorial Administration , the Reagan Presidential Transition Team , and the Reagan White House , eventually rising to hold the position of the 75th Attorney General of...

, businessman Charles G. Koch
Charles G. Koch
Charles de Ganahl Koch is co-owner, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Koch Industries Inc., the second-largest privately held company by revenue in the United States according to a 2010 Forbes survey...

, and Rich Fink.


Scholars affiliated with the Mercatus Center have published hundreds of journal articles and research papers, with topics including government transparency
Open government
Open government is the governing doctrine which holds that citizens have the right to access the documents and proceedings of the government to allow for effective public oversight. In its broadest construction it opposes reason of state and racist considerations, which have tended to legitimize...

, subsidies
A subsidy is an assistance paid to a business or economic sector. Most subsidies are made by the government to producers or distributors in an industry to prevent the decline of that industry or an increase in the prices of its products or simply to encourage it to hire more labor A subsidy (also...

, taxation, regulation, corruption, and Austrian School
Austrian School
The Austrian School of economics is a heterodox school of economic thought. It advocates methodological individualism in interpreting economic developments , the theory that money is non-neutral, the theory that the capital structure of economies consists of heterogeneous goods that have...

 economics. They have also provided more than 100 testimonies to Congress. . Notable studies performed include:
  • “Annual Performance Report Scorecard” (2000-2009): Produced by the Mercatus Center’s Government Accountability Project, these publications assess the annual reports released by the 24 federal agencies covered by the Chief Financial Officers Act. The reports, required by the Government Performance and Results Act
    Government Performance and Results Act
    The Government Performance and Results Act is a United States law enacted in 1993. It is one of a series of laws designed to improve government project management. The GPRA requires agencies to engage in project management tasks such as setting goals, measuring results, and reporting their...

    of 1993 are rated for their demonstration of “transparency, public benefits, and leadership.” The most recent publication, covering the 2008 fiscal year, ranked the reports from Labor, Veterans Affairs, and Transportation departments as the best, and those from SBA, Defense, and HUD as the worst. Only 13 of the departments’ reports received a “satisfactory” score in this 2009 publication, which notes that agencies “whose policy views were evaluated as more liberal . . . seem to score slightly better.”

  • “Freedom in the 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom” ranks states according to how well they meet the Center's ideals of personal and economic freedom. The 2011 rankings regarded New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Indiana as the freest, and New York, New Jersey, and California as the most restrictive.

Further reading

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.