Tip of the Costberg: On the Invalidity of All Cost of Regulation Estimates and the Need to Compile Them Anyway, 2016 Edition

Clyde Wayne Crews Jr.

Competitive Enterprise Institute

December 2015

We know the federal government spends $3.5 trillion annually, but it remains surprising how little is known regarding the costs of individual categories of federal regulation and intervention, let alone costs in the aggregate. Estimates range from trillions in foregone GDP to a few tens of billions tallied by the Office of Management and Budget.

The 2016 edition of Costberg reckons a placeholder for regulations at around $1.885 trillion annually. In the “pen and phone” era of "getting things done" without Congress, regulation shall surge as a public policy issue. Already, it’s not enough to merely incorporate new costs from OMB’s annual reports to Congress on costs of regulation, sources like the Information Collection Budget, and those costs which independent agencies bother to acknowledge. Regulations plus interventions, bans, gov’t-steering-while-the-market-rows and the like may have impacts greater than government spending, but it is not monitored and disclosed like government spending,and accountability is abysmal. Unmeasured costs, and in particular, “regulatory dark matter,” the “costs of benefits” and citizens' loss of liberty imply that if we’re missing regulation, we are missing the biggest part of government’s role in the economy, perhaps society itself.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 164

Keywords: regulation, cost of regulation, regulatory costs, cost of government, federal budget, Federal Register, red tape, Unifed Agenda, Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations, Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, Code of Federal Regulation

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Date posted: October 2, 2014 ; Last revised: December 15, 2015

Suggested Citation

Crews Jr., Clyde Wayne, Tip of the Costberg: On the Invalidity of All Cost of Regulation Estimates and the Need to Compile Them Anyway, 2016 Edition (December 2015). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2502883 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2502883

Contact Information

Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. (Contact Author)
Competitive Enterprise Institute ( email )
1899 L Street NW
12th Floor
Washington, DC 22036
United States
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