The Economic Cost of Harvey – What We Know Now

Hurricane Harvey has affected lives across the state and nation. The catastrophic storm not only caused significant damage when it made landfall near Corpus Christi, but has also gone down in history as the wettest ever in the continental United States, with devastating flooding in and around Houston. In addition to the tragic loss of life, the destruction of homes and businesses is causing further […]

Harvey – A First Look

Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Rockport late on Friday, August 25th as a Category 4 hurricane, the strongest storm to hit the US since 2004. Although the weather system was soon downgraded to a tropical storm, the record-level torrential rains that continued to circle the Gulf Coast caused devastating flooding and damage in Houston and the surrounding areas. Federal officials estimated that 30,000 people would […]

Six Reasons Not to be Concerned that the Texas Unemployment Rate is Higher than the US

The Texas unemployment rate is now higher than the national rate. Should we be concerned? The short answer is “no,” and here are six reasons why. First, there are problems with the unemployment rate as a measure of the health of the job market. Back in my academic days, my poor students often had to endure a 50-minute rant on the subject. For one thing, […]

Flushing Future Fortune

Growing an economy and encouraging prosperity is difficult work, and the last thing Texas needs is to shoot itself in the foot over a bathroom bill. The state has a lot of things going for it – a large and growing workforce, abundant natural resources (particularly oil and natural gas), a central location, a competitive cost of living, and excellent incentive programs. We also have […]

The Economics of Winning

The most fundamental thing that occurs in a market economy, no matter how primitive or how sophisticated, is exchange. Centuries ago, beads, shells, shiny pebbles, or deer skins (from which we get the word “buck” as slang for a dollar) were traded for goods or services. Even before that, goods or services were bartered for others to the benefit of both parties. In our modern […]

Productivity and Compensation

If a rising tide is supposed to lift all boats, why have we seen worker productivity rise so much faster than wages? From the 1940s through much of the 1970s, productivity growth and wages followed a generally similar pattern. However, since the 1970s, productivity has been increasing faster than compensation, and some use the gap to argue that we need proactive policies to deal with […]

Trade You Can’t See

A large and growing component of international trade won’t fit in a tanker, container, barge, or crate. In fact, no matter how hard you look, it is nearly impossible to find some of it with your eyes; much of it is lodged in the cranial cavities found between millions of pairs of ears. The United States has long run a trade surplus in the services […]