Ray Kurzweil is a brilliant inventor and author and is currently Chief Scientist at Google.  He is known for many things, but perhaps most notably for the idea of the “Singularity.”  This is a time in the fairly near future, according to him anyway, when processing power of computers will have developed to the point… Read more

In 1693, as related by economist Moshe Milevsky in his book King William’s Tontine, King William of England (actually a Dutchman and formerly William of Orange) sold to investors an interesting financial product.  Each buyer was a member of a pool of buyers that immediately received a “dividend” on their investment of 10% per year. … Read more

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

Let’s think about the structure of the perfect retirement investment vehicle.  The perfect vehicle would have annual payouts that exceed what could be achieved by buying bonds or other asset classes.  The perfect vehicle would hedge against so-called “longevity risk” which is the risk of outliving your money.  The perfect vehicle would have annual payments… Read more

William Goetzmann has written a masterful book (Money Changes Everything) on the role of finance in world history.  The basic message is that financial development has played an enormous role in the advancement of civilization.  This is in spite of various financial debacles that have come along periodically.  Goetzmann suggests that there are four major… 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

Interest rates are historically low and so is the return on savings.  People commonly talk about low interest rates being an inducement to increase spending and reduce saving.  In fact, this is one of the “transmission mechanisms” by which expansionary monetary policy is presumed to stimulate the economy.  In economic theory, consumption spending is modeled… Read more

Previously published on Friday, June 10th, 2016 on pacbiztimes.com By Dan E. Hamilton Since 2008, the Federal Reserve has been engaged in an unprecedented experiment, one without any economic theory to recommend it. Its policies are internally inconsistent. Some work to restrict credit. Others ease credit. The 2007 failure of New Century Financial, a leading… Read more

Previously published on Friday, May 27th 2016 on pacbiztimes.com By Matthew Fienup As forecasts of torrential El Nino rains have given way to the hard reality of another year of drought on the Central Coast, calls to punish farmers or to seize farmers’ water are once again being voiced. Not only do these calls embody… Read more

In his book The End of Alchemy, former Bank of England Chairman Mervyn King has presented a riveting treatise on banking, monetary policy, financial crises and financial regulation.   The title of the book refers to what King calls the “alchemy” of banking, whereby liquid and safe deposits are transformed into illiquid, risky loans and securities. … 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

Like the Orcas at Sea World, the mortgage market has been coddled by government support for more than half a century.  Having decided Orcas would be better off in the wild, Sea World has announced that it will no longer seek to capture Orcas or to breed them in the park.  However, due to concern… Read more