The Morning Economic Report | WYPR

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.

There are some positive things that can be said about the U.S. economy.  Officially, unemployment is below five percent.  Wage growth has begun to accelerate.  Home prices are rising more forcefully and fewer Americans are underwater on their mortgages.  But many continue to struggle. 

After a number of years of remarkably low inflation, at least according to official government statistics, inflation appears to be firming in America.  In June, prices excluding food and energy were up two point three percent from a year earlier, matching the highest level since May of twenty twelve. 

Low interest rates are not simply an American phenomenon – they are a global one.  A growing body of evidence suggests that these low interest rates are beginning to fuel housing bubbles – the types of bubbles that created so many issues beginning about a decade ago.  For instance, in Canada’s hottest real estate market, Vancouver, the benchmark home price recently rose by thirty two percent over a recent twelve month period. 

Many observers of the economy are aware of the stress that diminished oil prices have placed on nations like Venezuela and Russia.  But there are a handful of U.S. states that are also under duress due to the availability of cheaper oil, and one of them is Alaska.  Governor Bill Walker, an independent, recently imposed one point three billion dollars in state spending cuts in Alaska. 

One might think that the normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba would have significantly brightened the island nation’s economic outlook.  A number of airlines are planning regular routes to Cuba, an indication that commerce between America and Cuba is set to expand. 

Despite economic risks presented by slowing growth in China, recessions in Brazil and Russia, and the recent British decision to leave the European Union, Airbus and Boeing, the world’s largest planemakers, continue to remain bullish.  As reported by Reuters, rising air travel and demand for new fuel efficient planes raised the industry’s order backlog to a record thirteen thousand five hundred planes by the end of last year. 

Many key U.S. industries are becoming more concentrated, meaning that leading companies are increasing their market share and acquiring greater market power. 

Taking care of and educating children is hard work, and that’s true irrespective of a child’s age.  As indicated by writer Melanie Trottman, some people are far better compensated for their work overseeing children than others.  In many states, the average worker who cares for three year olds earn half what a worker earns teaching a five year old. 

Two states, Maine and Florida, will probably end twenty sixteen with more elderly residents than children.  That’s unprecedented in U.S history, but which will soon be replicated in a number of other U.S. states.  As reported by the Wall Street Journal, newly released Census Bureau estimates that pertain to July twenty fifteen indicate that a year ago, Maine was home to just two percent more children under the age of eighteen than adults aged sixty five or older. 

The conventional wisdom is that many of world’s most advanced economies are stuck in a rut.  This includes many European economies that are barely expanding, Japan’s near recession economy, and America’s two percent expansion.  But as pointed out by writer Adam Creighton, one could embrace a different view of the data – one that suggests that by some measures, the job market in wealthy nations is faring better than at any time since the nineteen seventies.