The Lost Economy

About Us

The Lost Economy® is an independent research program sponsored by The American Consumer Institute, Center of Citizen Research (ACI).  The program identifies regulations and public policies that impede private enterprise, delay investment and deter market entry, and it measures the adverse effects of these regulations and public policies on national and state economic output, employment earnings and jobs in the economy.

This research program will identify and size the regulatory problems that impact economic growth and job creation.  In addition, we will examine workable policy solutions.  At a minimum, our research will demonstrate the extent to which private investors and developers are prepared to fund, build and operate projects and ventures that could materially spur Gross Domestic Product (GDP), increase employment earnings, create many jobs and improve consumer welfare — and do so at no cost to taxpayers.

To learn more about the methodology and upcoming projects, click here.

Identifying the Problem

Across the U.S., economic growth and development is being hampered by onerous regulations and costly public policies.  In some instances, business ventures and investments are being slowed, delayed or cancelled due to significant impediments, including onerous regulatory review processes, permitting, licensing, costly bureaucratic requirements and fees, and lengthy proceedings. When this happens, government becomes a barrier to market entry and economic prosperity.

This research program will document the corrosive economic and employment impacts that can arise from significant and costly obstacles to free enterprise caused by inefficient regulatory rules, discriminatory taxation, and torturous permitting and rights-of-way processes, to name a few.

Addressing this problem first requires measuring it.

Measuring the Problem

To understand the extent of problems affecting market entry and investment, ACI will measure its economic costs as part of our research  program called The Lost Economy®.

The program will quantify the opportunity costs associated with regulatory burdens, delays, stalled and blocked private initiatives, among other obstacles.  By using analyses by economic scholars, the program will investigate and calculate the multiplier effects contributing to reduced GDP, lower employment earnings and lost jobs – all resulting from project delays and cancellation, as well as costly processes that deter market entry and competition. Lost too is consumer prosperity.

Our goal is to measure the problem, highlight the need for reform and be a catalyst for public policy change.

As Lord Kelvin once said – “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.”

Finding Workable Solutions

By measuring the problem, this program will demonstrate the extent to which private investors and developers are prepared to fund, build and operate projects that would materially increase GDP and create many jobs in the economy.  However, this investment may only come to fruition if policymakers take the steps needed to streamline and improve existing regulatory processes so that barriers can be removed and investment encouraged.  Where regulatory reviews and approval are necessary, private initiatives should have the opportunity to secure a final approval based on the soundness of the project, and not on the ability of private investors to survive an arduous approval process.

These projects, if sound, offer the potential for substantial economic opportunities, but these opportunities can only be realized if they are reviewed and evaluated in an efficient, effective, low cost and timely manner.  Absent policy action aimed at constructive reforms to the regulatory processes, there is substantial risk that economic progress and opportunity will continue to be denied for millions of American citizens and workers.

In this regard, the results from this program will be share among key stakeholders, policymakers and regulators to show the extent of the problem and to seek workable public policy solutions that streamline onerous regulations, encourage private enterprise and market entry, expand economic output and competition, create jobs and improve consumer welfare.


  1. “Obama’s Economic Recovery is Now $2.2 Trillion Below Average,” Investor’s Business Daily, July 29, 2016.