Recently in state/regional economics Category

from the Deseret News, Tuesday Nov. 20th.

Every time there is a significant natural disaster I eventually hear from someone that there is at least one upside: the disaster will be good for the economy.  And every time I respond, "Wrong!"  Inevitably this supposed economic stimulus is called a "sliver-lining."  To quote on of my favorite demotivational thoughts from, "Pessimism: Every dark cloud has a silver lining, but lightning kills hundreds of people each year who are trying to find it."

Natural disasters are bad.  They destroy lives and wealth and that has no upside.  After the disaster is over, people are unambiguously worse off than before and while their quality of life inevitably recovers, on average they are not better off in the long-run for having lived through the disaster.

Utah State Pension Reform

This article by Rick Evans and Kerk Phillips, appeared in the Deseret News last week.The working paper on which this op-ed is based can be accessed at the BYU Macroeconomics and Computational Lab website.

2008 was a bad year for anyone investing in the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost almost 34 percent, and the S&P 500 lost 37 percent. Among those hit with big negative returns was the Utah Retirement Systems (URS), the agency that manages the state pension system. They reported a slightly less devastating loss of just under 25 percent on the pension portfolio.

What Lies Ahead for North Korea?

This article appeared in the Deseret News on December 27th.

Kim Jung-il, the ruler of North Korea, died last week, reportedly of a massive stroke.  Other than a few deluded souls who might have been sincerely crying their eyes out on North Korean television, he will be missed by no one.

His death does, however, open up the possibility of changes in that reclusive country's policies, both domestically and internationally.  In terms of politics and policy, North Korea is probably the hardest country in the world to reliably understand.  We can observe the final results of whatever process determines policy, but very few people outside North Korea have any clue how that process actually proceeds.  So it is entirely possible that nothing will change in practical terms as a result of Kim Jung-il's death.  Still, if you are a bit of a gambler, the odds are higher now than they have been in a long time.

This article, by Rick, came out in the Deseret News on December 20th.

Eyebrows raise when you hear about any interest rate on credit more than 30 percent. If you're discussing payday or title lending, the implied interest rates (in annual percentage rate) can be above 500 percent. Put in those terms, short-term consumer lending markets sound immoral and predatory.

I spoke two nights ago at a meeting of the Timp Valley (Utah County) chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). In preparing for the presentation, I gathered some information on the Utah economy. I was surprised to see how well Utah is doing relative to the rest of the country.


Sports and Economic Growth

Two great games on Sunday have resulted in a Cardinals-Steelers Superbowl.  Can this tell us anything about economics?  I'm not sure, but lets compare the cities who boast the two best teams to the city who has claim on the worst team (ever).

Phoenix, the home of the Cardinals, has been one of the fastest growing cities in the US.  Much of this growth is from high-tech industry, like semi-conductor manufacturers.  And its proximity to the regulatory nightmare that is California has certainly helped that growth. 

Pittsburgh, although in the "Rust Belt", has truly blossomed in the last few years.  It has experienced decent population growth and increased the number of jobs in high paying industries like medical services.  

The December 2008 Journal of Economic Literature published the 105th annual list of doctoral dissertations in economics published between July 2007 and July 2008. This is really just a shameless plug by Rick and Jason for our two of favorite entries in this year's JEL list. The first is entitled, Three Essays on Openness, International Pricing, and Optimal Monetary Policy, and the second is entitled, Essays on Dynamic Political Economy.

Public Financing Problems

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I commented earlier in the week on the financial problems facing the Federal Government.  Well the states have problems too.  Its particularly interesting to think about the states that have hamstrung themselves by not having a state personal income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, New Hampshire, and Tennessee (the last two do tax dividends and capital gains income).

These states without personal income taxes rely more heavily on sales taxes and property taxes.  Well guess what's happened to property values in some of these states:



  • Richard W. Evans is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Brigham Young University

  • Jason DeBacker is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Middle Tennessee State University

  • Kerk L. Phillips is an Associate Professor of Economics at Brigham Young University