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The Economy from 50,000 Feet

A few friends have expressed the belief that interest rates have nowhere to go but up. This, of course, has been the mantra of the market for the past several years, and, perhaps, my friends have been listening too long to the talking heads on bubblevision. Here’s why it won’t happen: Today’s U.S. economy has many similarities to that of 1990s Japan. These include asset bubbles (equities), high debt burdens …Read More

Deflation’s Persistence Implies Yields Will Be Lower for Longer

Despite what you hear from the TV pundits, the U.S.’s second quarter ended on weakness, and there is little evidence that economic acceleration occurred.  In previous years, slow GDP growth in Q1 was followed by 3%+ in Q2.  Not this time!  The Atlanta Fed GDPNow model, which uses a lot of sentiment indicators, is all the way down to 2.4% for Q2.  I suspect that the Commerce Department’s initial GDP …Read More

Northern NV Will Remain Prosperous in a National Recession

My last column (Sunday, June 24th) was about the possibility of a recession near-term.  On that same RGJ Business front page, the headline was “Reno Median Home Price Tops $350k” and “May Unit Sales Second Highest Recorded.”  The two stories seem incongruent.  But they aren’t. Impact of the Recession In the financial meltdown of the last recession, the Nevada economy was one of the hardest hit in the nation.  It …Read More

On a Recession Watch

For the first time since the industrial revolution, the U.S. faces two significant growth issues: 1) a declining labor force; and 2) a job skills mismatch.  The declining labor force is demographic in nature and is occurring in every industrial economy; likely a function of the long-term success of capitalism.   The skills mismatch is a function of technological change that is so rapid that the skills of the existing labor …Read More

Economic Growth: Its Importance and the Potential Impact of its Demise

Conceptually, economic growth is a function of two factors: the growth of jobs, and the productivity of those employed.  In a world where the labor force of industrialized nations is stagnating, or, worse, shrinking, one might reasonably ask: “Why is economic growth, as measured by the increase in real GDP, so important to the economy?”  A good argument can be made that real GDP per capita would be a better …Read More

“Normal,” It’s Not What You Think!

Most readers remember the pre-recession days of 4% GDP growth, interest rates at levels where savers had return choices worth pursuing (e.g., the 10 year T-Note at 4%), and workers could count on annual real wage growth.  Today, many refer to this as “normal,” and there is a desire, if not a movement, to return the economy back to such a state. You can see this in the political arena.  …Read More