Anirban Basu | WYPR

Anirban Basu

Host, Morning Economic Report

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants.  Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate.  Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes.  Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.

He is the author of numerous regional publications including the Mid-Atlantic Economic Quarterly and Outlook Maryland and is routinely asked to contribute to local media, including on his radio show on WTMD, 89.7 FM/Baltimore and here on WYPR's Morning Economic Forecast.  Anirban completed his graduate work in mathematical economics at the University of Maryland.  He earned a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University in 1992. His Bachelors in Foreign Service is from Georgetown University and was earned in 1990.  He is currently working toward his J.D. at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

This week: Americans' net worth of income, immigration policy, the uninsured, work-life balance in Asian countries, and IRS audits.

Downward Mobility

Apr 12, 2018

A recent Forbes article concludes that there are 8.5 million older workers and their spouses who will experience downward mobility in retirement absent some deviation from current trend. Who are these endangered 8.5 million?

First time homebuyers, executive compensation, job openings, globalization and the possibility of recession. 

There continues to be much discussion regarding America’s retirement crisis. Far too many people lack adequate retirement savings, and face diminished living standards once they stop working. In response, there has been a move toward automatic enrollment in employer-sponsored retirement plans.

Automation, American tourism, credit card debt, bricklayer job security, and working mothers. 

Earlier this year, it appeared that something quite rare was about to occur.  One of the fifty U.S. states, Washington State, was striving to pass a bill that would have instituted a new payroll tax to help cover the cost of long term care, whether in a nursing home, a residence, or elsewhere in a community.

This week: Job growth, mortgage rates, government spending, and the success of Black Panther

Efforts to keep older Americans in the workforce longer could help combat America’s high rates of old age poverty and also reducing inequality—this according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development or OECD. The Paris-based think tank provides advice on the best policies to follow to its 35 member governments. The report calls upon America to support longer careers for all socioeconomic groups as a way to diminish old-age poverty without placing additional strain on pension systems. More than 20 percent of Americans over the age of 65 have an income that classifies them below the poverty line. For purposes of the OECD study, poverty was defined as half of median disposable household income.  Future retirees face even higher risks of poverty as inequality advances. As indicated in The Wall Street Journal, while America has a higher share of older people in the workforce compared to most major economies, how people fare in their later years depends critically on educational attainment.  The gap between workers with different skillsets is enormous and poised to widen as digital transition progresses according to OECD analysts. One way to support longer careers is by offering flexible or phased retirement. Under such a system, older workers receive a full or partial pension benefit while continuing in paid work, often with reduced hours. Far fewer Americans work part-time in retirement relative to populations in Germany and the United Kingdom. 

Oil prices, disparities in hourly wages, the rate of unemployment, and the growth rate of pregnancies. 

You are probably not looking for a reason to retire early.  The reason is fairly obvious.  Early retirement may be much more pleasant that working well into one’s 60s or 70s or beyond.  But here’s another reason that renders early retirement more appealing – it could lengthen your life.  That’s the conclusion of research made available over the years as well as from a 2017 study published in the journal Health Economics.  As indicated by The New York Times, in that study, three economists from the Netherlands analyzed what transpired when some Dutch civil servants could temporarily quality for early retirement in 2005. Men responding to the early retirement offer were nearly three percentage points less likely to die over the next five years than those who did not retire early. Parenthetically, too few women met the early retirement eligibility criteria to be included in the study. In any case, these findings echo those of other studies. For instance, an analysis in the U.S. found that seven years of retirement can be as good for one’s health as reducing by 20 percent the chance of acquiring a serious disease like diabetes or heart conditions. The salubrious effects of retirement have also been discerned in studies using data from England, Germany, and Israel. This likely reflects the fact that for many people, work can be stressful and can leave little time for exercise.  

The outdoor recreation economy, African-Americans in the economy, consumer debt and productivity growth. 

To stretch out one’s retirement savings, one may have to eventually move to a lower cost city. Many people from the northeast United States end up moving to the American South, with one of the major factors being warmer weather. But that’s hardly the only factor. States like North and South Carolina tend to have costs of living far beneath what one contends with in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey or Maryland.  One of the difficulties in understanding differential costs of living in various areas is a dearth of comparable data.

Household debt, oil imports, the French economy, the rural economy, and immigrants in the direct care industry.

Stock Ownership

Mar 1, 2018

There has been a lot of discussion in recent years regarding America’s retirement savings crisis.  One might think that a significant fraction of this crisis has been resolved by a booming stock market, with the logic being that 401Ks and 403Bs have been sufficiently stimulated to better position Americans for their golden years.  But data indicate that rising or falling stock prices have little impact on the income of wealth of most families. The reason?  They own little or no stock.  As indicated by writer Patricia Cohen, an astonishing 84 percent of all stocks owned by Americans belong to the wealthiest 10 percent of households... 

Anirban on wage growth, worker strikes, variable pay, unemployment rates and millionaire households. 

Start Saving Young

Feb 22, 2018

Let’s say that you are thirty years old. If you are, I am already not that fond of you, but let’s set that aside.  You may be wondering as a young person with much to look forward to how you should be preparing for the balance of your financial life, including retirement. The first piece of advice would be to avoid mimicking the behavior of the majority... 

Anirban on trends related to women studying economics, wage growth, labor force participation and debt levels. 

Anirban gives an overview of a survey of Millenials' ideas around retirement savings. 

Also: Job loss due to automation and the coffee economy. 

Click the image for the Reports for the week of February 5.

All of us have grown up understanding the concept of retirement. The notion is very simple – we work, we save, and then we stop working and enjoy a whole lot of free time during which we take care of grandchildren, golf, knit, travel, or all of the above. But as indicated by Kiplinger, hundreds of years ago, most people didn’t grow old so there was no need to retire.  People often worked to survive until they were simply unable to work any longer...

Also for the week of February 2, American fertility rates. 

We’ve spoken repeatedly about the notion that you would likely be better off financially in retirement if you worked for more years and waited to begin claiming Social Security.  Not only does working longer allow one to save more money for retirement, but delaying the receipt of Social Security benefits increases the value of monthly benefits.  Here’s another reason to hold off collecting those Social Security checks – if you retire early, you are more likely to die earlier as well...

For the week of January 26, Anirban covers car sales, the U.S. trade deficit and the U.S. debt burden. 

So now we are into 2018, which means that we are in the midst of another year during which people will be both fretting about and preparing for retirement.  As indicated by U.S. News, there are some reasons to believe that your retirement will be meaningfully better than the one your grandparents lived. At the heart of this optimism are technological advances...

Also for the week of January 19: the state of retailers and cooperation among U.S. and global cities. 

Let’s say that you work for a company offering automatic enrollment in their retirement plan. That’s a good thing. In such instances, the employer will typically enroll an employee in the plan once he or she meets eligibility requirements. At that point, a certain percentage of the paycheck, known as the contribution rate, will be directed into the investment fund the company has selected...

For the week of January 12, Anirban reports on the lengths of the American commute, employer benefits and the rise and fall of the economy. 

Economic Insecurity

Jan 11, 2018

Inequality and economic insecurity have been on the rise among American workers for years. A new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development finds that the situation deteriorates further as Americans age into retirement...

Anirban on wealth disparities and global economies.

Fragile finances

Jan 4, 2018

Record number of Americans older than 65  are working – now nearly one in five as indicated by the Washington Post. That proportion has risen steadily over the past decade and at a rate far in excess of any other age group...