David A. Moss

John G. McLean Professor of Business Administration

David Moss is the John G. McLean Professor at Harvard Business School, where he teaches in the Business, Government, and the International Economy (BGIE) unit. He earned his B.A. from Cornell University and his Ph.D. from Yale.  In 1992-1993, he served as a senior economist at Abt Associates. He joined the Harvard Business School faculty in July 1993.

Professor Moss’s research focuses on economic policy and especially the government’s role as a risk manager. He has published three books on these subjects: Socializing Security: Progressive-Era Economists and the Origins of American Social Policy (Harvard University Press,  1996), which traces the intellectual and institutional origins of the American welfare state; When All Else Fails: Government as the Ultimate Risk Manager (Harvard University Press, 2002), which explores the government’s pivotal role as a risk manager in policies ranging from limited liability law to federal disaster relief; and A Concise Guide to Macroeconomics: What Managers, Executives, and Students Need to Know (Harvard Business School Press, 2007), a primer on macroeconomics and macroeconomic policy.

In addition to these books, Moss has co-edited two volumes on economic regulation and has published numerous articles, book chapters, and case studies, mainly in the fields of institutional and policy history, financial history, political economy, and regulation.  One recent article, “An Ounce of Prevention: Financial Regulation, Moral Hazard, and the End of ‘Too Big to Fail’” (Harvard Magazine, Sept-Oct 2009), grew out of his research on financial regulation for the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel.

Professor Moss has created – and currently teaches – a financial history course in the second year of the MBA program entitled “Creating the Modern Financial System.” The course traces major developments in financial markets, institutions, and instruments from the early eighteenth century to today.

Professor Moss is the founder of the Tobin Project, a nonprofit research organization, and a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance. Recent honors include the Robert F. Greenhill Award, the Editors’ Prize from the American Bankruptcy Law Journal, the Student Association Faculty Award for outstanding teaching at the Harvard Business School (five times), and the American Risk and Insurance Association’s Annual Kulp-Wright Book Award for the “most influential text published on the economics of risk management and insurance.”

May 2012

  1. Government and Markets: Toward a New Theory of Regulation

    As the financial crisis has shown, neither traditional market failure models nor public choice theory, by themselves, sufficiently inform or explain our current regulatory challenges, nor point us toward the best solutions. Regulatory studies, long neglected in an atmosphere focused on deregulatory work, are in critical need of new models and theories that can guide effective policymaking. This interdisciplinary volume points the way toward the modernization of regulatory theory: its essays, by leading scholars in a number of fields, move past predominant approaches to integrate the latest research about the interplay between human behavior, societal needs, and regulatory institutions. The book concludes by charting a research agenda for scholars that would better incorporate emerging perspectives on government regulation, with the hope of sparking sustained academic engagement on questions of regulation and the economic role of the state.
  2. New Perspectives on Regulation

    New regulation shouldn't rely on old ideas. Since the 1960s, influential research on government failure helped to drive the movement for deregulation and privatization. Yet even as this branch of research was flourishing, very different ideas were sprouting in the social sciences with profound implications for our understanding of human behavior and the role of government. Some of these ideas, particularly from the field of behavioral economics, have begun to enter into discussions of regulatory purpose, design, and implementation. The process is far from complete, and many other exciting new lines of research - on everything from social cooperation to co-regulation - have hardly been incorporated at all. It is imperative that lawmakers and their constituents be able to draw on the very latest academic work in thinking anew about the role of government. This is the purpose of this book: to make the newest and most important research accessible to a broad audience.