Hot and Dry
Column Published in syndication July 13, 2022

Virtually all of Texas is now abnormally dry. Comparisons to the bone-dry days of 2011 have begun, and it's not looking good. In fact, given the scope of the drought and the higher costs of inputs, agricultural losses across the state are likely to top 2011's record $7.6 billion total.

Changing Channel
Column Published in syndication June 08, 2022

A few years ago, I was asked to name the major events that shaped the Texas we know today. High on the list was the development of Allen's Landing and the Port of Houston during the early days of the Republic and the subsequent efforts at the dawn of the twentieth century to develop a deep-water channel in the area just as the oil industry was emerging. Without this critical infrastructure, Texas could not have become a vital hub of global commerce. I am tempted to say "and the rest is history" – but, in reality, it is also the future.

On the Path
Column Published in syndication February 16, 2022

The US economy continues to recover from the pandemic. Even in the midst of challenges both domestically and internationally, our latest projections call for expansion over the next five years. Here's an overview of some key patterns influencing the outlook.

What Goes Up...
Column Published in syndication September 01, 2021

Housing prices are up. Way up! The robust market reflects a variety of factors, including population growth, job opportunities, and interest rates. During the pandemic, demand increased as people looked to upsize to allow more room for at-home work and/or school. Remote work also allowed many households to relocate, while stimulus funds helped many with down payments. At the same time, the pandemic slowed construction due to production shutdowns, logistics bottlenecks, and resulting shortages (and price increases) of some building materials – and a tight labor market didn't help. In other words, in our highly complex modern economy, the basics of supply and demand are alive and well.

How to Fix It
Column Published in syndication March 10, 2021

Now that things are getting closer to normal after the extreme weather and blackouts, attention has rightly and rapidly turned to actions to ensure that we never have a repeat.

The Short‑Term Forecast for the Texas Economy
Column Published in syndication August 05, 2020

The last two (May and June) Texas jobs reports were encouraging, reflecting the fact that, as businesses began to reopen, what was essentially a sound economy before the pandemic responded relatively quickly. However, even with these gains, Texas is nonetheless almost 700,000 jobs below a year ago and about 900,000 below the level just before the outbreak began.

Tourism in Turmoil
Column Published in syndication July 01, 2020

Texas is struggling to strike the appropriate balance in the tragic choice between effective public health measures and restoring vitality to the economy. Moving ahead with reopening before recommended safety milestones were met has led to reversals and setbacks on the path to progress. Physical health and economic health are both essential. Nowhere is this tension more intensely evident than in the tourism industry.

Nondiscrimination
Column Published in syndication June 17, 2020

The US Supreme Court recently ruled that employers cannot discriminate against gay or transgender persons under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Discrimination in employment, housing, and access to public places such as restaurants, hotels, and shops leads not only a loss of dignity and opportunity for those on the receiving end of such treatment, but also involves significant economic costs stemming from both a diminished ability to attract knowledge workers and reduced opportunities for tourism, conventions, and related activity. As we emerge from the pandemic, these concerns will be magnified.

Leading the Pack
Column Published in syndication August 28, 2019

Recently released data on employment and wage growth by county indicates that several Texas counties fall near the top of the list. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiled statistics for the 355 largest counties across the United States with annual average (2018) employment of 75,000 or more for the March 2018 to March 2019 time period. Four of the fastest growing 10 counties in the country in terms of employment were in Texas.

Mortgage Milestone
Column Published in syndication August 14, 2019

After more than a decade, the amount of household debt (including mortgages) has surpassed pre-Great Recession levels. Sometimes, an upswing in debt of certain types can be a negative signal, such as rising credit card debt in an economic downturn as people try to deal with financial setbacks such as job losses. However, rising debt can also reflect economic strength as increasing numbers of households are willing and able to purchase big-ticket items such as homes and cars.