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.

It wouldn’t be hard to find an economist who believes that the average American is a bit too grumpy with respect to the U.S. labor market.  After all, the U.S. labor market is enjoying its longest string of monthly job gains in the nation’s history. 

When Ross Perot ran for the presidency in nineteen ninety two, he warned of a giant sucking sound that would be generated by the flow of American jobs to Mexico via free trade.  Questions about the benefits and costs of free trade have certainly been a focal point of the twenty sixteen election. 

Many families would love to take a vacation.  Finances often get in the way.  The cost of airfare can be dear along with lodging, food and other expenses.  The issue often comes down to the fact that airfares need to be paid upfront, and many families simply don’t have that much liquidity. 

Census Bureau estimates of household income in twenty fourteen indicate that the typical American family earned a bit less than fifty three thousand seven hundred dollars that year.  When adjusted for inflation, that figure is about thirty seven hundred dollars less than it was in two thousand and seven and more than four thousand dollars less than in two thousand. 

Despite the completion of seven years of economic recovery, many Americans remain unnerved by the nation’s economic prospects.  In many instances, this had produced some unexpected political dynamics. 

Here’s the good news – growth in overall healthcare spending has slowed, long a goal of public policy.  Here’s the bad news – middle class families are still spending more out-of-pocket.  As reported by the Wall Street Journal, healthcare spending now exceeds eighteen percent of gross domestic product. 

As reported by CNNMoney, the United States is facing a one trillion dollar pension shortfall because states on average are not paying enough into their retirement plans for public employees.  According to a recent report from the Pew Charitable Trusts, only fifteen states contributed enough in twenty fourteen to pay both retiree benefits and begin to pay down their debt. 

Recent data indicate that more new homes were sold this July than during any single month in nearly a decade.  According to U.S. Census Bureau data, buyers purchased new single family homes at an annual rate of six hundred and fifty four thousand, the highest rate observed since October two thousand and seven.  New homes sales are up thirty one percent over the past year. 

One of the best indications that the U.S. labor market has roughly returned to normal seven years after the recession’s end is that more workers who lose a job are able to find a new one.  Between January twenty thirteen and December twenty fifteen, about seven point four million people lost their jobs, including more than three million who were laid off from positions that they had held for at least three years. 

Not much good can be said about recessions.  People lose jobs in large numbers, unemployment tilts higher, nest eggs get smaller, and bills become more difficult to pay.  But two economists, Clifford Winston at the Brookings Institution and Vikram Maheshri, an economist at the University of Houston, have identified a silver lining.