My dissertation advisor was Nobel Prize winning economist Douglass C. North.  Doug is one of the founders of New Institutional Economics. Naturally, my research interest resides in this area. But, honestly, in 2008, while in Honduras, I made the choice to place my traditional research on hold and pursue social good projects. Having said that, this area of research is still very important to me.

My focus is on the political economy of violence – specifically understanding how states manage the dilemma of credible commitment.  Economic prosperity requires the presence of a state powerful enough to establish and enforce property rights, yet not so powerful that its presence destabilizes these rights.  Successfully managing this dilemma, structuring a self-enforcing politico-military settlement, is pivotal to secure property rights and therefore economic prosperity.  In addition to publishing on the political economy of violence, I have explored topics in economic education and applied microeconomic economic development.


  • “Why is Most of the World Poor?” (with Christine Exley, Stanford University), The Economics of Inequality, Poverty and Discrimination in the 21st Century, Editor Robert Rycroft, ABC-CLIO
  • “Constraining the State’s Ability to Employ Force: The Standing Army Debates, 1697-99,” (with Bradley Hansen, University of Mary Washington), Journal of Institutional Economics (2010) v 6, pp. 243-59.
  •  “Political Economy of Violence” 21st Century Economics: A Reference Handbook, Editor Rhona Free, Sage Publications. (2010)
  •  “Protecting Your Protection in a Violent World: The Link between a State’sOrganization of Violence and its Constitutional Design,”Homo Oeconomicus (2004) v 21 pp. 117-52.


  • “Economic Welfare, International Business and Global Institutional Change,” Public Choice (2005) v 125 pp. 239-42.


  • “Crossing the Killing Zone into Statehood” (pdf)
  • “Two Dollar Challenge: Begin to Learn How the Other Half Lives” (pdf)
  • Article VI and the American Revolution (pdf)
  • Co-opting Coercion: A Fundamental Dilemma of Economic Development
  • Conscription and Credible Commitment in Modern Polities (pdf)
  • Corporate Coercion: A Transaction Costs Analysis of the History of Mercenary Companies (pdf)
  • Moral Hazard on the High Seas: A Classroom Experiment
  • Hungry Hippos: A Classroom Game
  • “The Impact of Improved Cookstoves with Chimneys on Indoor Air Quality in Siete de Abril, Yoro, Honduras” (with Nick Lam, David Pennise (both UC Berkeley Air Monitoring Group) and Sebastian Africano (ENASA)) submitted to the Journal of Environmental Monitoring.