Puerto Rico – Statehood or Bust

You’ve probably read about the troubled finances of Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory in the Caribbean that has issued more than $70 billion in municipal bonds, with no visible way to pay out the interest, much less the principal. Now Puerto Rican have overwhelmingly voted that they want their island territory to become the 51st […]

Banking Retreat

Low interest rates and added regulation designed to head off another global financial crisis has made it more expensive and complicated to run a banking operation these days. Gone are the heady days when banks were building 200 new brick and mortar locations a month in the U.S. market, leading up to the market top […]

Navigating NAFTA

You probably know that representatives from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are meeting at this moment to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—and, in the words of President Trump, get “a better deal for America.” But what IS NAFTA, and what are the chances that this time around the provisions will favor jobs […]

Pictures That Tell a Story

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and that means, to an economist, that sometimes it’s easier to communicate something complicated with a chart or a graph rather than a lot of explanatory text.

So it is with three charts and a picture, selected for the eye-opening perspective they offer. The first, in […]

Border Security: Safer but Poorer

In an effort to secure the U.S. borders, the President has attempted to ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, and is meanwhile quietly instituting “extreme vetting” of visitors from other nations—asking them to turn over their phones, social media passwords and financial records. Even U.S. citizens are experiencing more scrutiny when they attempt to return […]

Higher Rates: Tempest in the Teapot

Anybody who was surprised that the Federal Reserve Board decided to raise its benchmark interest rate this week probably wasn’t paying attention. The U.S. economy is humming along, the stock market is booming and the unemployment rate has fallen faster than anybody expected. The incoming administration has promised lower taxes and a stimulative $550 billion […]

Global Debt Overhang

You haven’t heard much about the U.S. government’s debt, in part because, as a percentage of the economy, the growth of our national debt has slowed dramatically. (See chart) But measured on a global scale, the world’s $152 trillion of debt—from consumers, corporations and governments worldwide—is more than double the balance at the start of […]

Internet Participation Rates

Pretty much everybody has access to the Internet. Don’t they? The actual global median of all countries is 67% of citizens, but access is not evenly distributed. In the U.S., 89% of adults use the Internet at least occasionally, according to the Pew Research Center. Only South Korea (94%), Australia (93%) and Canada (90%) report […]

Buying a Credit Score On the Cheap

Your kids graduate from college and face an immediate dilemma: they have no credit history, which makes it harder for them to rent an apartment or get a credit card. Is there a way the parents can help them without risking their own credit score?

An article on the website Nerdweallet suggests a solution that […]

Whither BREXIT?

More than three months after British voters elected to extricate their economy from the European Union, Brexit still hasn’t actually happened. What’s going on?

Apparently nothing more than a careful process designed to minimize damage on both sides of the English Channel. British Prime Minister Theresa May recently announced a target of late first quarter […]