Bill Watkins

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Bill Watkins, Founding Director of CERF, has been providing accurate, unflinching forecasts about the economic pulse of California, western states and the rest of the United States, for more than 15 years. He is a plain-spoken, no-holds-barred economist who studies the data and tells it like it is.

“Bill Watkins has the enviable ability to provide the simple-to-grasp explanations that are based on rigorous analysis of complex things. Sometimes it seems that we within the academy forget that our job is to make things easier to understand, not more difficult.”

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Previously Published in CERF’s September California Economic Forecast There are no surprises in our California forecast.  There aren’t any changes either.  We expect California to continue plugging along as it has for several years now.  The growth on average will be slow, but the Bay Area will do better. We don’t see much upside potential. … Read more

Previously published in CERF’s September 2016 Economic Forecast publication: I have complained for years that California’s economy is not performing as it should, and it’s not working for a large part of the population, young people, minorities, less educated workers, even much of the middle class.  Those who disagree with me point out that, measured… Read more

Previously Published in CERF’s September 2016 California Economic Forecast: It’s time for another presidential election.  Each candidate is promising new initiatives that will bring prosperity to Americans.  So, we’re forecasting vigorous economic growth?  No. Our forecast is pretty much the same as it’s been for years, anemic economic growth as far as we can see.… Read more

Previously Published by Bill Watkins in the September 2016 California Economic Forecast A decade of slow or declining economic and job growth has been accompanied by fundamental changes in America’s job composition.  Those changes have caused profound disruptions in the lives of millions of workers, primarily low-educational-attainment workers, and their families. The situation is not… Read more

Previously published on August 26, 2016 on newgeography.com Most discussions of our slow economic growth includes a seemingly compulsory demand for increased public capital spending, so-called infrastructure spending or simply “roads and bridges.”  Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton promise increased public capital spending on their websites.   Larry Summers made perhaps the best case for… Read more

We need to find a way to separate our fiscal and monetary policies. Previously published on June 17, 2016 on city-journal.org Never heard of fiscal dominance? Don’t worry, you have lots of company. Even many economists are unfamiliar with the term. That’s going to change, though, as more and more Western governments careen toward insolvency.… Read more

Previously published on April 14, 2016 on Newgeography.com  Most commentary on California’s decision to increase the state minimum wage to $15 over time is either along the lines of it being a boon to minimum-wage workers and their families or a disaster for California’s economy.  Neither is accurate.  Different regions sill see different outcomes.  Central… Read more

By Bill Watkins – Previously Published in the Pacific Coast Business Times In popular culture, there are “good” industries and “evil” industries. Oil has held the most hated position of the evil list for generations and is likely to hold it until there is no more oil. Farming, once solidly on the good list, is… Read more

Previously published on February 13, 2016 on Newgeography.com   It is an article of faith among California’s political class that insufficient higher educational opportunities are a constraint on California’s economic and job growth.  Just about every California economic development document includes a discussion of California’s desperate need for more college graduates. Unfortunately, the facts disagree with… Read more

Previously published on October 29, 2015 on Newgeography.com   California has a long history of boom and bust cycles, but over the past 25 years or so, California’s cycles appear to be becoming more volatile, with increasing frequency, higher highs, and lower lows.  The fast-moving business cycle may not provide the time necessary for many… Read more