Expert

D. Brady Nelson

Regulatory Economist and Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
Phone: 
312/377-4000

Darren is a neoAustrian economist, regulatory analyst and communicator (public speaking and media) with almost two decades of experience working for/with government regulated businesses, government policy makers and government regulators, and those bodies trying to reduce government regulation … in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA.

Darren has a very wide knowledge base of economics and related matters like law, history and ethics, particularly as it pertains to business and consumer valuation, pricing and production, and government interference with these; an ability to critically apply and positively communicate that knowledge to almost any person and situation; and in so doing, to both think ‘inside’ (eg mainstream Neoclassical micro-economics and Keynesian macro-economics) and ‘outside the box’ (eg Austrian micro-economics macro-economics), and take action with passion to bring it all together.

Darren first started down the path, in the late 1980s, of understanding, appreciating and promoting (the politics of) liberty when he took a strong interest in the Reagan and Thatcher administrations (the latter person he was fortunate enough to meet in London in January 2010, and get an autograph from on his Union Jack wallet). The next milestone on this path, in the early 1990s, was his formal studies of (the microeconomics of) liberty, including history of economic thought, especially that of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman. The next milestone, in the mid 1990s to late 2000s, was his work in and around government in terms of competition reforms and regulation implementation, particularly that of so-called ‘natural monopoly’ price regulation. The most recent milestone over the past several years or so was his rediscovery of the American liberty culture and the Austrian School of economics (microeconomics, macroeconomics, history, law and ethics), especially the thinking of Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard.

Darren tries to leverage his deep skills and experience from the English speaking world in mainstream economics along with that of the Austrian School ... in order to creatively and empathetically lead the winning of the 'hearts' as well as the 'minds' of individuals who are lovers of, friends of, open to and/or even sceptical/ignorant of liberty ... with a strong emphasis on policy, ethics, history and law as well as economics ... whilst making better use of education, media and entertainment ... and particularly focussing on the application to the negative (unintended and foreseeable) consequences for liberty from overbearing and growing government regulation, as well as the positive (intended and foreseeable) future from greater liberty.

Darren's regulatory focus is on the usually ignored area of economic regulation (of the prices, returns, service quality, etc) of so called public 'natural monopoly' utilities … including airports, buses, electricity, ferries, gas, rail, roads, sewerage, telecommunications and water. The little remembered history of such regulation (in the USA, at least) was that there was initially, and for quite some time, plenty of effective competition (and thus decreasing prices, and increasing service quantity and quality) prior to the less effective competitors lobbying for market protection regulation in exchange for utility oversight regulation. In addition, the theory of natural monopoly came much later, well after utility oversight regulation started. This type of regulation started federally in the USA with rail in the 1870s, and at state level with public utilities from 1907 in my home state of Wisconsin. The most modern forms of utility regulation were adopted in the UK from the 1980s and elsewhere such as Australia from the 1990s, the former starting with telecommunications and the ‘RPI-X’ approach. It is very important to note that (not surprisingly, given the lack of economic and political incentives to do so), there have been few comprehensive empirical studies, but these few show a very poor performance for utility oversight regulation. Not only does a focus on such regulation provide an opportunity to help weaken the rationale and performance for the scale and scope of this particular type of (seemingly never-ending) regulation, but offers ‘spillover’ benefits for taking on all poor and over regulation … as well as providing positive and practical deregulation alternatives, including exploring new approaches, methodologies and tools

Darren is originally from Milwaukee WI USA, but has lived most of the second half of his life in Australia (mainly Brisbane QLD), except for 2008 and 2009 in London and Scotland. He now resides in the USA (mainly between Washington DC and Milwaukee WI).