The January 4 Federal Reserve Chairs Joint Interview panel at the largest and most prestigious economics conference in the country was a standing room only affair with a massive media presence.  I got there fifteen minutes early and almost did not get a seat.  New York Times senior economics correspondent Neil Irwin provided an early… 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

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

At the ASSA economics conference on Sunday, I attended a session on the equilibrium real (inflation adjusted) interest rate.  This topic was being discussed in particular as a metric relating to sluggish U.S. economic growth since the Great Recession. First, some presenters documented empirically that real interest rates since 1860 has had episodes, some of… Read more

In late 2008, U.S. banks accelerated consolidation driven by intense Federal government pressure (many failing banks were “saved” by being acquired by a larger bank). This yielded a banking structure where today the largest five U.S. banks control over 44 percent of the nation’s banking assets. The five largest U.S. banks held assets of $6.7… Read more

The Federal Open Market Committee began its two day September meeting yesterday, where it will consider raising the short-term policy rate, or the guidance on that rate. It has been nine years since the committee has raised this rate. The prospect of higher rates has financial markets and their commentators very nervous. The rate-raising event,… Read more

Once a year, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) releases a new set of economic growth estimates that include not yet released numbers for the second quarter and revisions to historical GDP estimates as far five years back. Today is that day. The first estimate of 2015’s second quarter economic growth is 2.3 percent,… Read more

Here’s what the OECD has to say about the global economy: But the global economy can be characterised (sic) as only achieving a muddling-through “B-minus ” grade. Global growth in the first quarter of 2015 was weaker than in any quarter since the crisis. And although this softness is seen as transitory, productivity growth continues… Read more

Since the dismal first-quarter GDP was revised down, we’ve heard all sorts of excuses.  These include bad winter weather and problems in the seasonal adjustment process.  The bad-winter excuse has been popular for several winters now.  Of course, as I’ve said before, strong economies absorb bad winters with minimal impact on output, GDP. Now, we hear… Read more