The Morning Economic Report

Monday-Friday at 7:33 am

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. 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.

While the U.S. labor force participation rate continues to hover near a four decade low, those who are in the labor force tend to work hard – so hard that they end up leaving many vacation days unused.  More than half of all U.S. workers left some vacation time unused last year.  That ended up costing the U.S. economy more than two hundred and twenty billion dollars in spending on restaurants, hotels and travel. 

While there has been a considerable amount of gloom regarding the U.S. economy lately, some groups are upbeat about their economic prospects.  Take Hispanics for instance – surveys by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center indicate that eight one percent of Hispanics say they expect their personal finances to improve over the next year. 

It’s summer, and that means that it’s time for weddings.  Perhaps you remember telling friends when you were getting married, with the most cynical of them reminding you that in America about half of all marriages end in divorce.  Perhaps you responded by telling them that’s false. 

For a number of years, economists have wondered why all the technical wizardry entering our lives appears to have such little impact on economic growth.  As indicated by the New York Times, the issue resurfaced recently when the government reported both disappointing economic growth and continuing stagnation in productivity. 

A recent article written by Greg Ip discusses one of the great mysteries of the recovery – why have low interest rates done so little to lift business investment in America?  After all, this is supposed to be one of the ways that monetary policy works.  Faced with lower borrowing costs, firms are more likely to purchase equipment to increase market reach and revenues. 

It is said that no good deed goes unpunished.  The federal government is likely to agree, at least with respect to some of its efforts to prepare Americans for the knowledge economy.  Over the past fifteen years, the U.S. government has made a trillion dollar investment to improve the nation’s workforce, productivity and economy by investing in higher education. 

Though there has been a considerable volume of discussion suggesting that many Americans are interested in downsizing their residences, recently released Census data indicate that there are plenty of Americans looking for more space.  The median size of a new single family home was just short of twenty five hundred square feet last year. 

It’s a Friday in June, and that means that many people are getting set to hit the road for the weekend.  As indicated by writer Clifford Krauss, the great American road trip is back, in part because of cheaper gasoline prices.  Gasoline this driving season is cheaper than it has been for eleven years according to AAA. 

Many economists have been working diligently to allay the fears of people unnerved by the most recent employment report, which indicated that the nation added just thirty eight thousand net new jobs.  For instance, economists have been pointing out that other data remain more upbeat, and though the outlook is not especially rosy, it’s not terrible either. 

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the nation added just thirty eight thousand jobs in May according to their establishment survey, economists and others were stunned.  That was the worst monthly performance in more than five years.