sidshowbob

Ban the box backfires

“Ban the Box” laws prevent employers from conducting criminal background checks until well into the job application process. (“Ban the Box” comes from the check box on many job applications asking, “Have you every been convicted of a crime?”) Proponents of “Ban the Box” claim that by ignoring an applicant’s criminal record until late in the application process, ex-cons would have better employment opportunities. A secondary goal is to reduce racial disparities in employment. New research suggests that “Ban the Box” has backfired. We find that [Ban the Box] policies decrease the probability of being employed by 3.4 percentage points (5.1%) for young, low-skilled…

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Global trade stalls while protectionism expands: Are you ready for a trade war?

Global trade is slowing and protectionism is growing. Trump and Clinton will make it worse. Are you ready for a trade war? In October, our newsletter sent up a warning flag that growth in global trade seemed to be slowing down. Now, it appears the growth in global trade has stopped.   In the U.S., it’s even worse. As shown in the figure above, U.S. exports have decreased by 4 percent over the past year. That’s a reduction of $95 billion. Recent research finds world export volumes peaked and flattened in early 2015. The same finding holds for import volume and for total volume (export…


PokemonBiz

Thriving in the face of change: 3 business lessons from Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based mobile game available on iPhones and Android devices. The game allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on device screens as though in the real world. It makes use of GPS and the camera of compatible devices. The game’s been out a week, and it’s a huge hit. But, a lot of people – including business people – seem downright hostile to the game. Big mistake! The unexpected success of this game provides three lessons for businesses faced with change and innovation. Lesson #1 – Accept. It’s natural…


BrexitBalloon

Britain’s exit from the EU will rattle the U.S. economy

U.K. voters elected to exit from the European Union. This is a major shake up for the U.K. and the rest of Europe and is almost certain to rustle, rattle, and otherwise jolt the U.S. economy. The first impacts will be seen in foreign exchange markets as skittish investors pull out of U.K. and European markets to put their money in the safety of U.S. assets. Several economists predict the impacts of Brexit on the U.S. will be confined to our financial markets. Nevertheless, the result will be a rising dollar relative to the pound and the euro. Many economists expect some…


Power-Pose-Fail

About that whole power pose thing, it’s BS

Remember when striking a power pose would solve all your problems? With this “no tech lifehack,” anyone can “embody power and instantly become more powerful.” Power pose promoters say all you need to do is to get yourself in the Wonder Woman stance, and *BOOM* you’ll get “elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk.” There’s a hitch, though … It’s B.S. According to Tim Harford, the “Undercover Economist,” a later—and bigger—study found that high-power poses were correlated with slightly lower testosterone and slightly higher cortisol. In other words, the opposite findings from what the Power Posers…


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Should I stay or should I go? Labor market mobility and Millennial stress

  Economists say too few people are moving away: Labor market mobility in the United States has declined. Interstate migration is down (graph from Molloy, Smith, Trezzi and Wozniak) and so is in-state-migration, especially for the less well educated. Where once people responded to shocks by moving to opportunity now they are likely to stay put and retire early or take-up disability insurance. Pop psychologists say too many people are moving away: But the real change comes in the freedom of movement that has made it easy for people to leave families far behind. Studies have shown that having limited family in close proximity can…


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Newsflash: Trump is wrong about undocumented workers

Donald Trump launched his Presidential campaign in June 2015 with the insult heard ’round the world: When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. Trump missed the biggest stereotype of all—undocumented workers work and they work a lot. Research published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that undocumented workers tend to work more hours in a year than…


New study concludes: There are few things as expensive as free federal money

Please download and read the new study: Impact of Federal Transfers on State and Local Own Source Spending. “Free is a very good price” announced the 1980s pitchman for a local appliance store known for it’s buy-one-get-one offers. But, like most things in life, the BOGO offers had some hitches (Like you had to spend $399[!] on a 19-inch color TV in order to get a 12-inch black-and-white TV for “free”). Regardless, almost 35 years later, “free is a very good price” is part of the Portland lexicon. But, Portland’s not alone. Throughout the U.S., state and local officials pick up…


Exchange-Featured

Obamacare 2016: Where even a Ph.D. economist cannot get a good deal on health insurance

As the calendar flips to November, the Halloween decorations go back to the garage and the Thanksgiving decorations come out. Now, there is a new special day in between that takes a piece of both holidays. November 1 is the day that the new Obamacare health insurance plans are unwrapped. In a tribute to Halloween, the premiums are quite scary. In anticipation of Thanksgiving, most of the plans are turkeys. The Healthcare.gov website is still clunky. When I looked this morning, I could not log on, but I could look at plans. The website said that 87 plans were available in my state (Oregon), but…


EconMinute-TuesdayMemo-Podcast-1

Taxes, more taxes, and … “recreational” marijuana

With the ink barely dry on Oregon’s costly Low Carbon Fuel Standard law, Portland city commissioner Steve Novick bets than a 10-cents-a-gallon gas tax will be his ticket to re-election. Along the way, Ann asks the question: What if we can say how our tax dollars are spent? We wrap with the one “sin” that’s not subject to a “sin tax.” That’s right, “recreational” marijuana in Oregon is not taxed. Who will be the first politician to come out of the ganja closet? Here’s how you can hear more: Listen on Podbean, the podcasting platform. The podcast is now available on…



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Three takeaways from the Fed’s forecast

The print version of the Wall Street Journal provides a graphic showing that Fed policy makers have reduced key economic forecasts during their latest meeting in which the decided not to raise interest rates. Three takeaways from the graphic: Growth is expected to slow over the next few years. After taking out inflation, the economy is expected to grow at roughly 2 percent a year. Inflation is expected to increase to 2 percent a year. Adding inflation to the real rate of GDP increases, yields an economic growth of 4 percent a year, but half of the growth is from…


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TuesdayMemo/EconMinute podcast: Win-win

“Win-win” is the topic for this week’s podcast because it’s “game on” for Portland’s election season. Oregon state treasurer Ted Wheeler enters the Portland mayor’s race, facing off against incumbent Charlie Hales. The candidates are virtual twins: both are former Republicans turned Democrats, each trying the show that he is the most serious progressive candidate (or the most progressive serious candidate). What is the one issue on which they differ? A majority of city council is up for grabs. Where are all the candidates? Where are Portland’s Trumps and Sanders? Mayor Hales has a plan to make housing more affordable…


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TuesdayMemo and EconMinute team up for a very Portland podcast

TuesdayMemo and EconMinute team up for a very Portland podcast. We bring together politics, economics, and a dose of common sense into the conversation about what’s happening in Oregon’s biggest city. This episode, for the first week of August 2015, covers a wide range of topics: Greenpeace vs. Flugtag: The contrast between how officials treat protestors illegally blocking the Willamette River and how they treat those who jump through the hoops to get a permit. For a bonus, we learn what Portland Mayor Charlie Hales was doing while river was shut down. Then we talk about the mayor’s friends in…


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Growing population, shrinking streets: A very Portland formula for traffic congestion

It’s not an illusion. Portland traffic is getting worse: Longer drive times, more congestion, angrier drivers, and “active transportation” that should be renamed “aggressive transportation.” And, it’s no accident. It’s all part of the City’s Vision Zero plan for transportation. One consequence of Vision Zero is that while Portland’s population is growing, its street network is shrinking. Miles go missing on Portland streets In a Friday afternoon bad news dump, the Portland Bureau of Transportation revealed (PDF) that the city’s streets have deteriorated over the past year (more on that in another post). The miles of unpaved streets and streets in…


Oregon’s low carbon fuel standard: Messy policy, bad economics

The extension of Oregon’s low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) was crammed through in the early days of the 2015 legislative session. Supporters of the low carbon fuel standard hope that Oregon can free ride off infrastructure already in place in California and British Columbia to reduce the impact at the pump. Reality is less hopeful: Every aspect of Oregon life will be affected by higher fuel prices that will do nothing to slow, stop, or reverse global warming or climate change. Even worse, even experts who have spent years studying the low carbon fuel standard have no idea how suppliers…


Some things in life are free: Learn economics from one of the best

This summer Stanford will be offering an open online version of John Taylor’s on-campus course Principles of Economics.  Professor is considered one of the most influential economists today and is likely in line for a Nobel prize. People can find out more and register for the course, Economics 1, on Stanford’s free open on-line platform. The course starts on Monday (June 22). The  first week’s lecture and study materials are now posted. Basic economics The course covers all of economics at a basic level. It stresses the key idea that economics is about making purposeful choice with limited resources and about people…


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Podcast – Hillary Clinton, jobs, Big Bird, and trolls all in one short podcast!

Big issues in this week’s Econ Minute Podcast: Hillary Clinton gets it wrong on the economy jobs connection. Don’t blame Baby Boomers for the shrinking labor force. Does Big Bird make kids smarter? Does Spongebob make them stupid? Some lessons in pop culture and pop science. Are all Internet trolls bad? Can they be a force for good? All these topics are covered on one short podcast. The podcast is now available on iTunes. Please subscribe to make the most of your weekly Econ Minute.


laborforcecouchpotatoes

Labor force participation and a working age population that won’t work

FRED is the go-to place for a bunch of economic data. A service of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the site is easy to use and has a huge amount of data. FRED also runs a blog that uses its data to answer—or at least address—some of the big data-driven questions of the day. FRED’s blog is now looking at labor force participation. But, first let’s see why labor force participation is important. Let’s begin with with unemployment. Unemployment is a simple concept: The number of people who don’t have a job, divided by the number of people in…


good-job-guys

Bad troll, good troll

  First there’s this story about Putin’s “Troll House,” a secretive group of dozens of online “trolls” based in Russia who propagate lies and misinformation aimed at the U.S., Ukraine, and other supposed enemies of Russia. For example, last September 11, this “news” broke on Twitter: “A powerful explosion heard miles away happened at a chemical plant in Centerville, La., #ColumbianChemicals.” Another tweet linked to a screenshot purporting to show the story featured on CNN. Another pointed to a YouTube video of ISIS claiming responsibility. It took two hours for Columbian Chemicals to catch up and put out the truth:…