Working Harder or Smarter? Or Something Else?

By |2019-10-02T07:37:56-05:00September 3rd, 2019|Global Market Update|

How can we be more productive? Photo: Doug Tengdin. When we think of how to be more productive, we may think of long days and hard labor. When economists look at an entire economy, they consider equipment, technology, and training. And productivity is incredibly important to an economy. One of the simplest equations in economics is how to calculate economic growth: Labor force growth plus productivity equals economic growth. How many hours we work times how much we do per hour equals the economy. [...]

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The Arrow of Clutter

By |2018-11-29T09:19:15-05:00November 29th, 2018|Global Market Update|

My desk is a mess. Source: Pexels No matter how much I focus, no matter how many filing systems I try, my desk still seems to accumulate reports and notes and half-finished books and articles. The piles just mount up. Maybe it’s my personality, or maybe it’s the nature of my work. The other day I found an old invoice marked “paid” from three years ago. It was tucked away in a drawer, waiting to surprise me, I suppose. I have no idea how [...]

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In the Presence Of …

By |2018-10-31T22:54:34-05:00October 31st, 2018|Global Market Update|

Have you ever met a true genius? Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, who discovered of pulsars as a graduate student. Photo: Roger Hayworth. Source: Wikimedia I was fortunate enough to meet several when I was in high school. Our chemistry teacher organized an outing to a local college, where a Nobel laureate in Physics and three other great minds – one was the laureate’s PhD advisor – were giving a public seminar. After the Q&A session, I was able to meet one of the speakers one-on-one and [...]

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She Sells Sushi Made by What?

By |2017-12-19T08:02:15-05:00December 19th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Are sushi robots coming? Photo: Alpha Lau. Source: Wikipedia Sushi is everywhere: in sushi restaurants, in grocery stores, even in gas stations. And it’s easy to see why. The bite-sized rice-and-fish combinations are convenient and savory. By virtue of the rice, vinegar, and soy sauce used in it, sushi is rich in the “umani” taste, one of the five major taste sensations. Sushi is low in fat and high in protein. It can be made with vegetables and brown rice, rather than fish and [...]

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Growth at an Educational Price

By |2017-10-02T08:33:38-05:00October 2nd, 2017|Global Market Update|

Why is labor’s share of income going down? Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics For the past 50 years, labor’s share of our national income has been declining. This has had profound effects on inequality, taxes, and the structure of our economy. Labor’s share is the percentage of national income that goes to workers as compensation. It’s a pretty simple calculation: employee compensation (wages and benefits) divided by economic output. It’s been falling since the ‘50s, and quite steeply for the last 15 years. It’s [...]

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Roses for Education

By |2017-07-17T12:21:18-05:00May 26th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Will education solve our problems? Photo Viktor Hanacek. Source: Picjumbo Economists of all stripes trumpet education as a key to improving economic outcomes. Whether it’s literacy, math skills, or the ability to write computer code, our society has become so technological, they state, that an extensive – and expensive – education is necessary to thrive in today’s world. This is nothing new. Education has been considered crucial to society since Plato wrote The Republic 2400 years ago. In fact, he thought that a complete [...]

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The Wages of Sleep

By |2017-07-17T12:21:20-05:00May 3rd, 2017|Global Market Update|

Can we sleep our way to success? Illustration: Lorenza Walker: Source: Wikipedia We all know that sleep is good for our bodies – that it helps us heal and refresh ourselves, restoring our immune, nervous, and muscle systems. But can sleep be good for our finances, too? Because getting enough rest helps us concentrate and interact more positively with others, sleep could improve our wages. On the other hand, you obviously can’t work while you’re sleeping. How does sleep impact our earnings? It’s hard [...]

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Foreign Stocks

By |2017-07-17T12:21:28-05:00March 8th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Will Trump’s travel ban hurt the economy? World population migration, 2016. Blue = gain; orange = loss. Source: Wikipedia The short answer is no. The US only accepted 70,000 refugees every year anyway. That’s a pittance in an economy that employs over 160 million people. A much bigger impact would come from a crackdown on illegal immigrants already in the US. The US employs about 8 million unauthorized immigrants – about 5% of the workforce. These people are concentrated in certain industries and certain [...]

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By |2017-07-17T12:21:40-05:00October 18th, 2016|Global Market Update|

Why is the economy growing so slowly? Source: St. Louis Fed Since the Great Recession, the economy has never gotten back into high gear. We’ve always seemed to be teetering on the edge of another downturn. Quarterly economic growth has averaged 2%, while a normal recovery is usually above 3.5%. Why? First, the workforce is changing. We are now entering the period where baby-boomers are beginning to retire. Like most things the boomers have gotten involved with, they are transforming retirement. Their family finances [...]

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Puzzling Out Productivity

By |2017-07-17T12:21:44-05:00September 7th, 2016|Global Market Update|

How can we get the economy moving? Photo: Doug Tengdin When people think of productivity they usually think about getting more done during their work-time, about working harder or smarter or more focused. But when we talk about productivity in the economy, we think about how much workers can get done within the structure of their jobs. Productivity is important. Economic growth is determined by labor growth times productivity growth. That’s all there is to it. So long-term trends in productivity are critical. They [...]

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