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Women are driving recent increase in age 25-54 labor force participation

October 7, 2016

Josh Zumbrun from the WSJ posted some interesting labor market charts that use data from today’s September jobs report. The one that jumped out at me was the one below, which shows the prime-age (age 25-54) employment and labor force participation (LFP) rate. In a related tweet he notes that the 25 – 54 LFP […]

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Pension funding practices and investment risk

October 6, 2016

A recent paper by Donald J. Boyd and Yimeng Yin of The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at SUNY  investigates how public pension funding practices contribute to big funding gaps and the need for sudden contribution increases. This is a situation public sector plans find themselves in due to three reasons 1) muddling the […]

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Privatizing Water Facilities Can Help Cash-Strapped Municipalities

October 5, 2016

In my latest Forbes piece I discuss water privatization in the U.S. and why it is often a good idea. “A public-private partnership has several benefits versus a completely public system. First, private firms often operate in many different jurisdictions, which means they have more experience and are able to institute best practices based on their […]

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New York’s Buffalo Billion initiative has been underwhelming

September 28, 2016

New York’s Buffalo Billion plan has come under fire amidst an ongoing corruption probe looking into whether some contracts were inappropriately awarded to political donors. The investigation has led to funding delays and there are reports of some contractors and companies rethinking their investments. But even without these legal problems, it is unlikely that the […]

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Economic Freedom, Growth, and What Might Have Been

September 16, 2016

Economists are obsessed with growth. And for good reason. Greater wealth doesn’t just buy us nicer vacations and fancier gadgets. It also buys longer life spans, better nutrition, and lower infant mortality. It buys more time with family, and less time at work. It buys greater self-reported happiness. And as Harvard economist Benjamin Friedman has […]

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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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