A major reason why the nation has historically prospered, says John B. Taylor, is because Americans worked within a policy framework that was predictable and based on the rule of law, with strong incentives emanating from a reliance on markets and a limited role for government. When we deviate from that standard—as we have for the past few years—we struggle. But we can find our way back if we’d follow Hayek’s recipe for recovery:

In implementing this new economic strategy, policymakers should be guided by Hayek, especially by his emphasis on the rule of law and the predictability of policy. As he wrote in The Road to Serfdom, “Nothing distinguishes more clearly conditions in a free country from those in a country under arbitrary government than the observance in the former of the great principles known as the Rule of Law. Stripped of all technicalities, this means that government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand—rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in given circumstances and to plan one’s individual affairs on the basis of this knowledge.”

Rules-based policies produce more stable economies and stronger economic growth. When people make decisions, they look to the future. Prices that convey information and provide incentives reflect the future. So good decisions as well as the prices that guide them depend on the predictability of future policy—and thus on clear policy rules.

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