More competition can lead to less inequality

September 8, 2016

Wealth inequality in the United States and many European countries, especially between the richest and the rest, has been a popular topic since Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century was published. Piketty and others argue that tax data shows that wealth inequality has increased in the U.S. since the late 1970s, as seen in […]

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Thinking like an Economist Means Thinking about Tradeoffs

August 16, 2016

This week, I’ve written two articles about different types of tradeoffs that economists think about when they evaluate the likely effectiveness of proposed public policies. One type of tradeoff relates to the costs that consumers and businesses incur in exchange for the benefits policies will achieve, while a second type of tradeoff involves countervailing risks that sometimes increase as policies […]

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Local governments reluctant to issue new debt despite low interest rates

August 10, 2016

The Wall Street Journal reports that despite historically low interest rates municipal governments and voters don’t have the appetite for new debt. Municipal bond issuances have dropped to 20-year lows (1.6 percent) as governments pass on infrastructure improvements. There are a few reasons for that: weak tax revenues, fewer federal dollars, and competing budgetary pressures. […]

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State Labor Force Changes And The Need For A Flexible Labor Market

August 5, 2016

The figure below is from my latest Forbes column and shows the percentage change in each state’s labor force from June 2007, just before the recession started, to June 2016. There is substantial variation across the 50 states. Click here to read the whole thing.

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Congestion taxes can make society worse off

July 21, 2016

A new paper by Jeffrey Brinkman in the Journal of Urban Economics (working version here) analyzes two phenomena that are pervasive in urban economics—congestion costs and agglomeration economies. What’s interesting about this paper is that it formalizes the tradeoff that exists between the two. As stated in the abstract: “Congestion costs in urban areas are […]

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Recessions Don’t Have The Same Impact On Every City

July 19, 2016

Here is a link to my latest piece on Forbes.com New research shows that some local economies avoid slumps during national recessions and that an educated population and flexible housing supply can help. Recessions Don’t Have The Same Impact On Every City  

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Pokémon Go Represents the Best of Capitalism

July 14, 2016

An article uploaded to Vox.com by Timothy Lee earlier this week, “Pokémon Go is everything that is wrong with late capitalism,”has caused quite a stir, since it was fairly critical of the “Pokémon Go economy.” Given the popularity of the game though (and our concern that some players would be alarmed that their lighthearted entertainment was […]

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Does the New Markets Tax Credit Program work?

June 29, 2016

Location-based programs that provide tax credits to firms and investors that locate in particular areas are popular among politicians of both parties. Democrats tend to support them because they are meant to revitalize poorer or rural areas. In a recent speech about the economy, presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton spoke favorably about two of them: the […]

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Washington’s Legitimacy Crisis Presents an Opportunity for the States

June 28, 2016

You’ve heard it before. Americans are deeply unhappy with Washington, DC. Sixty-five percent say the country is on the wrong track. Confidence in institutions is near all-time lows. Congress’s approval rating is terrible, and the two major presidential candidates are viewed more negatively than any other mainstream presidential candidates in recent memory. Only nineteen percent of the public trust the government to do the right […]

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Does Tax Increment Financing (TIF) generate economic development?

June 20, 2016

Tax increment financing, or TIF, is a method of financing economic development projects first used in California in 1952. Since then, 48 other states have enacted TIF legislation with Arizona being the lone holdout. It was originally conceived as a method for combating urban blight, but over time it has become the go-to tool for […]

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