February 25, 2011

Regulators and Redskins

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We examine the correlation between federal government activity and performance of the capital’s National Football League team, the Washington Redskins. We find a positive, non-spurious, and robust correlation between the Redskins’ winning percentage and bureaucratic output, measured by pages published in the Federal Register. Because the Redskins’ performance is prototypically exogenous, we give this result a causal interpretation and provide a plausible, causal mechanism: bureaucrats must make “logrolling” deals to expand their regulatory power, and a winning football team offers a shared source of optimism to lubricate such negotiations. We do not find the same correlation when examining congressional activity.