Getting Back to Normal

It’s been almost a decade, but the Federal Reserve (Fed) is finally confident enough in the economy to begin actions to get back to normal after the “great recession.” This is good news, because getting the Fed’s balance sheet back in order is essential to future economic performance. As the global financial crisis unfolded beginning in 2007, the Federal Reserve stepped in to help lessen […]

100 Years Old and Just Getting Started

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has turned 100. Originally formed as the Texas Highway Department on April 4, 1917, by the 35th Legislature, TxDOT has become a vital part of our quality of life and economic growth. TxDOT now maintains more than 79,000 miles of farm-to-market, ranch-to-market, state, US, and interstate highways across the Lone Star State. TxDOT also takes care of more than […]


The US national debt has just topped $20 trillion. That’s 20 million millions or $20,000,000,000,000. It’s a large number, and people are (justifiably) concerned. While the federal government takes in taxes and other payments, these inflows aren’t enough to cover obligations ranging from national defense to health care to construction to wages. To make up the difference, the US Department of the Treasury sells US […]

Make that Five in a Row

The Lone Star State has once again prevailed in Site Selection Magazine’s “Governor’s Cup” competition. The Governor’s Cup goes to the state with the most major corporate location and expansion projects. To be counted, a project has to either involve a capital investment of at least $1 million, 20 or more new jobs, or 20,000 square feet of new construction. Texas had 642 major projects […]

Starting with a Bang

I have never been one to put much stock in a single monthly statistic. Economic data can fluctuate for all sorts of reasons, and it is normally best to see a pattern develop. In the more than 30 years that I have been writing this weekly epistle, I could probably count on one hand the number of times that I have focused on a single […]

Keeping It Real!!

Information is essential to decision making, whether for an individual, a family, a business, or a government. Without accurate input data, it is virtually impossible to draw meaningful conclusions and make effective decisions. When it comes to the data that we use to assess the economy, the watchwords are “Just the facts, ma’am!!” That is why I and my colleagues in the economics profession became […]

A Mind for the Ages

Economic theory can admittedly be simultaneously boring and incomprehensible at times, but is critical to our understanding of the functioning of markets, businesses, and consumers. Its concepts inform the structure and actions of governments and central banks, improve policies and social services, and enhance job markets. From the most rudimentary barter systems of trade centuries ago to the complex, multifaceted transactions common in the world […]

“Give Me Your Tired, Your…Never Mind!”

Immigration is once again at the forefront of American politics. Following President Trump’s infamous travel ban, the highly-publicized immigration raids, and the Day Without Immigrants protests in response, policymakers from both sides of the aisle are turning increasing attention to the need for immigration reform. It is important, however, before diving into the political rhetoric, to have an accurate understanding of the vital role that […]

Killing the Goose

Legislative noise has been heard in Austin about eliminating the Texas Enterprise Fund, a key aspect of the state’s economic development incentives. The Governor has asked that it be retained. Let me be very clear: scrapping this “deal closing” fund would be a major blow to the state’s future competitiveness, with the potential for major fallout over time. It would be like killing the goose […]

Economic Forecast for Texas’ Smaller Metropolitan Areas

By 2021, I am projecting that the 19 smaller Texas Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) will add a total of about 215,000 net new jobs to the state. The growth rates over the period, which spans the 2016 to 2021 time horizon, will vary markedly. Some areas will outpace the state rate of expansion, while others will grow more slowly. The state’s smaller metropolitan areas often […]