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.

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The paychecks of Americans are rising at their fastest rate since the recession ended.  As indicated by writer Eric Morath, median weekly earnings for full-time workers rose 3.9% during the first quarter relative to a year ago according to the Labor Department.  That represents the best gain since late two thousand and eight. 

It took nearly eight years of economic recovery to get to this point, but the nearly four percent growth in weekly pay is roughly the rate reached during the two prior economic expansions.

Join Anirban Basu for more.

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  Last year, the International Monetary Fund repeatedly downgraded its forecast for the global economic outlook.  After coming into twenty sixteen suggesting that global economic conditions would improve, the Fund eventually downgraded its estimate of twenty-sixteen global economic expansion to three point one percent.  That was the worst year for global growth since the financial crisis ended.  

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David Goldman/AP

In light of falling unemployment rates, economists have been predicting faster wage growth.  The logic is obvious.  With fewer available jobseekers, expanding employers need to offer more money to fill job openings. 

Moreover, as demand for workers expands, more current employees are likely to be lured to other firms, but only if those other employers offer higher compensation.  All of this serves to expand wages, but rather than accelerating, growth in American wages has been leveling off recently. 

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For years, Americans have wondered why the U.S. economy hasn’t been expanding more rapidly.  Since the end of the Great Recession, economic growth has averaged only about two percent per annum and has yet to achieve three percent rate in any given calendar year.  Economists have put forward all kinds of explanations ranging from the dislocating impacts of technology to global trade and the retirement of Baby Boomers.

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There has been a lot of focus lately on the airline practice of overbooking.  While many of us are just now becoming aware of the types of issues such practices can raise, overbooking is about as old as the airline industry itself.  

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The divergence of economic opinion along partisan lines has perhaps never been greater.  In other words, one’s beliefs regarding U.S. economic prospects are likely to be shaped heavily by one’s politics. 

In the words of Richard Curtin, who directs the University of Michigan’s monthly survey of consumer sentiment, "the partisan divide has never had as large an impact on consumers’ economic expectations."

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Oscar Ucho/flickr

As reported by writer Josh Zumbrun, an expanding number of economic forecasters have begun to reconsider their bullish outlook for the U.S. economy.  This is in large measure attributable to growing doubts regarding the extent to which the new presidential administration will be able to implement its pro-business agenda.  Following the election last November, respondents to the Wall Street Journal’s monthly survey of forecasters significantly raised their estimates for growth, inflation and interest rates.  

Listen to Anirban Basu for more.

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Coming into the year, there was a considerable amount of confidence in corporate America.  The notion has been that the new administration in Washington, D.C. would implement an intensely pro-business agenda emphasizing tax reform, stimulus spending and deregulation.  Surveys indicate that businesses remain relatively confident, but other data suggest that confidence in corporate American may be waning.  

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While there are many stakeholders who are upbeat regarding near-term U.S. economic prospects, expected improvement remains speculative. Last year, the U.S. economy expanded just 1.6 percent, though the year’s second half was better. Many economists continue to wonder if average growth of around 2 percent remains the best for which we can hope.  

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As a reflection of a reasonably strong economy, Americans are once again flying in large numbers. In fact, U.S. and foreign airlines carried a record number of passengers in 2016 according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

Anirban has more.


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Despite indications of an improving economy and labor market, recent research indicates that recent college graduates continue to struggle with a lack of wage gains since the recession.  The bachelor’s degree has long been considered the ticket to the American middle class, but has arguably lost some of its mystique recently.  

Anirban has more on this story. 


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You may have heard of the so-called North Carolina Bathroom Bill. Many people didn’t like the policy and responded by withdrawing economic activity from that state. The Associated Press estimates that North Carolina’s bathroom bill will cost the state nearly $4 billion in lost business over a dozen years.

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Perhaps you’ve lived through the following situation – an acquaintance tells you that a common friend, perhaps someone you went to school with or once worked alongside, is now making a lot of money. You ask, well where do they live? They say New York, and you say, well then they’re really not making that much are they?  

Anirban has more. 

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Men are in decline. That seems like a strange thing to say when one considers that last year, nearly 96 percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs were male. But on the other end of the spectrum, men are dropping out of the labor force in large numbers and falling behind women in terms of both college attendance and graduation rates.

Anirban has more on this story.


Katherine Seery/flickr

A new working paper published by The National Bureau of Economic Research indicates that there are double standards in the nation’s financial advisory industry when it comes to disciplining men versus women. The paper is entitled “When Harry Fired Sally: The Double Standard in Punishing Misconduct."

Anirban has more on this story. 


Kathryn Decker/flickr

There was a time several years ago when the job market was flooded with eager applicants. Many people had lost their jobs, unemployment was elevated, and large numbers of college graduates added to the volume of job seekers. As indicated by Bloomberg, during and after the recession, many employers began requiring college degrees for entry level jobs. That was then, this is now.

Anirban has more.


James Tipton/flickr

Recent data from the Job Opportunities and Labor Turnover Survey or JOLTS indicate that the U.S. labor market continues to strengthen. Though the JOLTS report is a month behind the highly publicized monthly employment report supplied by the Labor Department, it is still followed by economists because of the additional insights it provides. The most recent report indicates that both the rate of hiring and quitting jobs rose in early 2017.  

Anirban has more. 


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There has been considerable discussion in recent months about the role of immigrants in American society.  Some of this discussion may have made people wonder if the U.S. is as open to people from other parts of the world as it once was. Apparently, many people, including students, have come to the conclusion that America has, at least for now, become a less desirable destination.

Anirban has more. 


Tax Incentives

Mar 28, 2017
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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. 


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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.


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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
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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.


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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. 


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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. 


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