The Morning Economic Report | WYPR

The Morning Economic Report

Monday-Friday at 7:33 am

Anirban Basu, Chairman 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.

Tax Incentives

Mar 28, 2017
Jonas Bengtsson/flickr

With so much emphasis being placed on the need to accelerate job creation and economic growth, communities across the country are offering companies rich incentives to expand operations or to relocate.  As reported by The Wall Street Journal, economic development tax incentives have more than tripled over the past twenty-five years, offsetting about thirty percent of the taxes the companies receiving incentives would otherwise be paying.

Anirban has more. 


There was a time when the housing market could be characterized as a buyer’s market.  Several years ago, the inventory of unsold homes was elevated.  Many families found that they could no longer qualify for a mortgage.  The result was that buyers in the market had plenty of choice and negotiating power vis-à-vis sellers.  That is no longer the case.  

Anirban has more. 

charlie holzhausen

There are a lot of Baby Boomers and members of Generation X who like to complain about Millennials – who represent the youngest members of the U.S. workforce. Those of us from older generations complain about their seemingly insatiable appetite for flex time and for positive feedback regardless of the quality of their work. They also don’t seem to cherish the things that we cherished, like television. 

Anirban has more on this story.


Economic data has been pretty upbeat since last year’s presidential election. There is evidence of stepped up business investment, more rapid hiring, and more confidence among investors. In response, many economists have raised their forecasts for near-term economic growth and inflation.  

Anirban has more. 

Oscar Ucho/flickr

Economists are ubiquitous in the world of public policy. As pointed out by writer Neil Irwin, walk half a block in downtown Washington, for instance, and there is a good chance you will pass an economist. Turn on cable news, and you will find an abundance of economists, often ones who serve a chief economist function for some organization of note.  

Anirban has more. 

James Tipton/flickr

One of the emerging mysteries in the U.S. macroeconomy is the growing gap between the number of workers losing their jobs and the number applying for unemployment benefits. One would expect these things to move together. When one loses a job, it is perfectly natural for them to seek out unemployment benefits to bolster their spending power until they are able to secure replacement employment.

Anirban has more on this story.

The Best Paying Jobs

Mar 20, 2017
apox apox/flickr

Money isn’t everything, and yet people often rank job quality based on how much the typical person makes in a given occupational category. Career website Glassdoor recently ranked the 25 best paying jobs in America.  The Glassdoor report is based on an analysis of salaries Glassdoor users entered on the site during the one year period ending in February 2017. 

Anirban has more on the best paid positions. 

For many young people, it’s time for spring break – so the last thing one should talk about is bad grades. But that’s precisely what U.S. infrastructure received during the most recent assessment supplied by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Every four years, the Society publishes an analysis regarding the capabilities of American infrastructure, including the nation’s seaports, airports, water systems and roads. American infrastructure received a grade of D+, unchanged from its last report card delivered in 2013.  

Here's more from Anirban.

liz west/flickr

American wealth is on the rise. Thanks primarily to a surging stock market during the final quarter of 2016, aggregate household wealth increased 2.3 percent to end at nearly $93 trillion. The value of household stock and mutual fund portfolios leapt by more than $700 billion during the fourth quarter. The value of homes rose by roughly another $560 billion.  

Anirban has more. 

Cristine Jones/flickr

There has been considerable discussion recently about bringing high quality jobs back to America.  Many policies have been proposed, including a border adjustment tax and other mechanisms that would induce Americans to purchase more goods and services from one another.  But such mechanisms would generally not address structural shifts in how people are employed in America.  

Anirban has more of this story. 

Construction Growth

Mar 14, 2017
Juan Camilo Trujillo/flickr

U.S. productivity growth, measured in terms of output per hour of labor has been anemic over the past several years.  As indicated by writer David Harrison, since 1995, overall productivity has expanded at a compound annual rate of less than 1.8 percent. Remarkably, America’s construction sector is actually less productive now than it was in 1995 according to a study released by the McKinsey Global Institute.  

Anirban has more of the story. 


One of the most polarizing issues in America is illegal immigration. While some insist upon a nation of laws firmly enforced, others favor a more relaxed approach. Economists are also divided, but there are certainly many who believe that if America were to lose vast numbers of illegal workers, the nation’s economy would suffer.  

Anirban has more of this story. 

Dan Fuccella/flickr

One of the greatest fears of workers is their potential to be replaced by technology. Many of us have already been forced to shift jobs due to automation. As pointed out by writer Binyamin Appelbaum, in 1900, factories and farms employed 60 percent of the nation’s workforce. By 1950, those two sectors employed about 36 percent of the workforce -- by 2014, less than 10 percent of worked in a factory or on a farm.  

Anirban has the rest of this story. 

Economic Growth

Mar 9, 2017
Jon Welsh/flickr

Last year, the U.S. economy expanded 1.6 percent. During last year’s final quarter, the economy expanded at a 1.9 percent annualized rate and growth is actually not expected to pick up significantly during the current quarter. So much of the talk about faster U.S. economic growth is largely speculative. In this context, one could ask the question, just how much faster could the U.S. economy grow?  

Anirban has more on this story. 

Energy Prices

Mar 8, 2017

Despite all the drama emerging from Washington, D.C. and other national capitals around the world, the U.S. economy continues to show signs of gathering momentum. As indicated by writer Neil Irwin, some of the factors at work may turn out to be temporary. For instance, energy prices were very low about a year ago, but have since recovered, helping to drive more investment into oil exploration and similarly situated activities. For instance, energy prices were very low about a year ago, but have since recovered, helping to drive more investment into oil exploration and similarly situated activities.

Anirban has more of the story. 


Healthcare Spending

Mar 7, 2017

For years, various agencies have been striving to reduce America’s health-related expenditures. Despite those efforts, a recent report from nonpartisan experts at Health and Human Services concludes that healthcare spending will continue to claim an expanding share of national resources for the foreseeable future – and that’s regardless of what the new president and congress do with the Affordable Care Act. 

Anirban has more of the story. 

David J/flickr

If people expect an economy to expand slowly, then that economy is likely to expand slowly. In other words, expectations are likely to become self-fulfilling prophecy. This is the conclusion of a new paper authored by three economists. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the economists, including Olivier Blanchard from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, generate key insights relative to productivity.

Anirban has more of the story. 

amy gizienski/flickr

Let’s face it – living near your parents isn’t altogether fashionable. Often, the people who we consider as among the most successful are those who moved far away, perhaps to exotic locales like Singapore or Sydney or to American commercial centers like Wall Street or Silicon Valley. But recent research indicates that sometimes it’s best to stay close to mommy and daddy.  

Anirban has more of the story. 

Sean MacEntee/flickr

There are plenty of items that are becoming more expensive, whether healthcare, apartments, gasoline, or homes. But occasionally, one will come across a product or service category in which prices are falling.  Air travel is perhaps poised to be one of those categories.  

Anirban has more of this story.

When the price of gasoline or food goes up, we usually view that as bad. If the prices of goods and services rise too rapidly, it is expected that the Federal Reserve will clamp down on money supply to keep inflation in check. But when the price of homes rises, that’s often discussed in the context of economic improvement. 

Anirban has more on this story. 


Feb 28, 2017
Jon Welsh/flickr

Inflation is beginning to emerge. The prices Americans pay for goods and services surged last month by the largest amount in four years, reflecting in part a rebound in the cost of gasoline.

Anirban has more on this story. 


In the ongoing debate regarding immigration, one argument put forward for limiting immigration is that reductions in the supply of foreign labor will lead to higher wages among native-born Americans. New research indicates that this equation for improved labor market outcomes isn’t quite so simple. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, a team of economists has analyzed the mid-century Bracero program, which allowed nearly half a million seasonal farm workers per year into the U.S. from Mexico.


Feb 27, 2017
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Last year, the U.S. economy expanded just 1.6 percent in terms of gross domestic product or GDP. 2016 will go down as yet another year of tepid growth. But there are a growing number of economists who are expressing skepticism about the accuracy of the GDP measure.


When many of us were growing up, it was quite customary for someone to be on strike. Over time, the strike or work stoppage has become a rarely used instrument for labor unions to extract better treatment from employers or higher levels of compensation. According to data recently made available by the U.S. Labor Department, fewer major work stoppages occurred over the past ten years than occurred each year from 1947 to 1981.

Jo Sau/flickr

There has certainly been much concern expressed about the declining economic circumstances of American men in recent decades. But American men are hardly alone in facing adversity. The Resolution Foundation, a British think tank, has published new research indicating that British men born between 1981 and 2000 will earn $12,500 pounds less in their twenties than Generation X men.

China's Economy

Feb 21, 2017
Thomas Depenbusch/flickr

China is home to the world’s second largest economy. Considerable concern has been expressed regarding the Chinese economy in recent years due to a combination of rampant debt and fears of overbuilt real estate markets. For now, China’s economy continues to perform. Chinese gross domestic product expanded 6.7 percent last year and ended the year on a high note.

A Dynamic Economy?

Feb 20, 2017
Michael Daddino/flickr

We economists could easily make the case that America’s economy is in fine shape. Jobs are being created, unemployment is low, wages are rising faster than inflation, which remains contained, and national output remains ascendant. But while economists express such views, our fellow countrymen and women don’t seem to be buying it.

The Rise in Contract Employees

Feb 17, 2017
Kathryn Decker/flickr

Even as hiring activity remains brisk and more firms spend resources training employees, many American companies are activity planning to hire fewer people in the future. As indicated by writer Lauren Weber, the outsourcing wave that moved thousands of apparel manufacturing jobs to China and dozens of call center operations to India remains just as likely to happen within companies across the U.S. and in virtually every industry.

Job Training

Feb 16, 2017

With the economy approaching completion of its eighth year of recovery, employers large and small are complaining that they can’t find workers with the right skill sets. Skilled workers in manufacturing, construction, logistics, finance, technology and other industries have been steadily scooped up as the economy has expanded. The result is that more businesses are now spending resources to train people to satisfactorily fill available job openings.

Job Growth

Feb 15, 2017
Jeremy Sternberg/flickr

Many economists have been indicating that the economy is approaching full employment. This doesn’t mean that the unemployment rate will soon be zero – it means that we are approaching a situation in which a tighter labor market will eventually translate into more inflation, which in turn will produce higher interest rates.