Economics

TruMpISSION: Impossible - Border Wall

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While running for office, President Trump said the border wall would cost about $8 billion, a figure widely recognized as an unreasonably low estimate". This week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimated the cost of construction at $21.6 billion. Figuring out what the wall would cost has been a source of debate for longer than the last election cycle. In 2013, the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" senators set aside $1.5 billion for a plan to add 700 miles of wall - also a completely unrealistic budget.  read more »

How Richard Longworth Predicted 20 Years Ago That Globalization Would Cause a Social Crisis

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Global Squeeze: The Coming Crisis for First-World Nations

Richard C. Longworth

McGraw-Hill 1998

Whenever we see the reality of momentous shifts in society, it’s always good to go back and take a look at the people who saw it coming far away. Generally speaking, there were usually people who understood what was happening in advance. For example, Daniel Bell wrote his book The Coming of Post-Industrial Society in 1976. There were probably even other earlier books touting the same theme.  read more »

How the Visa Ban Will Hurt US Innovation

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A key reason for the prosperity found in the United States is the ability of universities and companies to attract the best and brightest people from abroad. Shutting out skilled individuals from entire countries could have grave consequences for America’s intellectual institutions as well as knowledge-intensive businesses. The obstacles put in place following the 2001 terrorist attack did reduce the position of the US in the global competition for talent, yet the regulations were about increasing security and allowed those that had been screened to enter.  read more »

The High Cost of a Home Is Turning American Millennials Into the New Serfs

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American greatness was long premised on the common assumption that each generation would do better than the previous one. That is being undermined for the emerging millennial generation.  read more »

In the Automation Debate, Don't Forget the Job Multiplier Effect

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In his 1950s satire Player Piano, author Kurt Vonnegut describes a dark dystopia where automation has led to a world of meager consumption and desperate idleness. The vision of workers displaced by machines predates this though, and is perhaps most associated with the 19th century Luddite movement where workers sabotaged machinery for fear of losing jobs. In economic thought, the prospect of labor-replacing technology has a still much longer history.  read more »

Subjects:

Them that’s got shall have. Them that’s not shall lose.

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My family lived in this building when I was a kid in the 1970’s. This was the door to our old apartment. It’s in a nondescript part of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. There are a million places just like this all over the Southland. These beige stucco boxes are the workhorses of semi-affordable market rate housing in California. The place hasn’t changed in forty years other than the on-going deferred maintenance.  read more »

The Irony That Could Trip Up Trump's Quest To Make The U.S. Economy 'Great Again'

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Perhaps no president in recent history has more pressure on him to perform economic miracles than Donald Trump. As someone who ran on the promise that he could fix the economy -- and largely won because of it -- Trump faces two severe challenges, one that is largely perceptual and another more critical one that is very real.

To start, Trump must cope with the widespread idea, accepted by much of the media, that we are experiencing something of an “Obama boom.”  read more »

Globalization's Winner-Take-All Economy

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“If you are a very talented person, you have a choice: You either go to New York or you go to Silicon Valley.”

This statement by Peter Thiel, the PayPal founder and venture capitalist, unsurprisingly caused a stir, given that he made it in Chicago. Simon Kuper had made a similar observation in the Financial Times when he described how young Dutch up-and-comers had their sights set on London, not Amsterdam. “Many ambitious Dutch people no longer want to join the Dutch elite,” Kuper wrote. “They want to join the global elite.”  read more »

The Demographics of Poverty in Santa Clara County

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Tucked away in the bottom corner of the San Francisco Bay, tech royalty make themselves at home in their silicon castles. Santa Clara County is the wealthiest county in California, and 14th in the nation, boasting an average median household income of $96,310. However, where there are kings, there must be subjects. Despite its affluence, Santa Clara remains one of the most unequal counties in the United States.  read more »

The Futility of Annual Top 10 Predictions

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In every recent year, a black swan event has made top 10 lists appear quaintly naive and unimaginative. Our list is probably no better.

This time of year, top 10 predictions are all the rage. These lists can be interesting and entertaining but how useful are they really?

This question goes to the heart of forecasting. How futile or how useful is an attempt to forecast the economy, or technology, or world events for the next twelve months? There are three answers.  read more »