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David Flynn: Barter is Evil

Barter is Evil is an economics blog where the author, Professor David Flynn (University of North Dakota) encourages the exchange of ideas on economics, economic history and statistics. His blog places an emphasis on the North Dakota economy, which provides us with great insight on the impact of the oil industry boom there.

Estimating Oil Industry Revenue

The importance of the oil industry to the North Dakota economy is well known. We looked at production and prices in the past. I thought a look at estimated revenue was in order. This is simply the product of average monthly price and the monthly production. Clearly it is an approximation, but it is likely a good overall approximation for industry revenue in North Dakota right now. If a picture is worth a thousand words, let’s start talking: Revenue levels dropped back to levels...

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North Dakota Economy Reset

A new school year is starting at UND and it seems an appropriate time to engage in a reset of what we know about the state economy. The fact is these situations are subject to change very quickly and for reasons well beyond the control of economic actors in the ND economy. With commodities comprising a significant share of ND economic activity it is a global price that really impacts profitability. What can we say that is going on at this point? Labor Markets Labor constraints...

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Defining Economic Resilience

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic there was frequent discussion of “economic resilience.” In particular I saw constant efforts to define the term. Now I am not trying to quibble around the edges here but I am not sure “economic” is needed as a modifier for the term resilience really but we will move on to other issues. At its heart we are talking about an issue of capacity or ability. To do what? Recover from an adverse event. The frequency of adverse events, or at least the...

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ND labor markets still in flux

We are not out of the woods yet in North Dakota when it comes to labor market adjustments. Businesses and entire industries are still making changes to circumstances and situations so it should not be a surprise that it is happening with labor as well. This is a complicated dynamic with feedback between businesses and their customers that will present some problems. What is happening in the state is pretty apparent. The fact is that after seeing initial claims decline from their...

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North Dakota Labor Update

Back after a hiatus to depressurize after 9 years as department chair. I switched roles slightly so I am now a research director with the new NCoBPA Institute for Policy & Business Analytics. I am looking forward to it, but I needed some time to step back after the long stint as chair. The labor situation in the country is a source of constant attention, as it should be. We cannot afford to be wrong right now. The situation is dire for many households, and it is dire for the...

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“The Letter of the Day” – US Economic Forecast Edition

There are many people out there right now talking about the path forward for the economy and the letter it will represent. The amazing thing is that I would trust a forecast from the cast of Sesame Street more than these characters. Will it be a “V’ shaped recovery? Will it be a “U”? While I cannot dismiss a “V” shape completely the blind adherence to it is more political cheerleading that is not followed up by any real coherent policy. Let’s talk keyboard characters and how they might...

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Grand Forks Sales Tax and COVID-19

We have not truly hit the point yet when the data will truly show the impacts of COVID-19 on the Grand Forks economy. That is, what we see is just the beginning. With lots of concern turned toward the ways the economy will show these issues and will change going forward it pays to pause and take a look before we get too deep into the weeds. To that end I created a smoothed out graph of sales tax collections by removing the seasonal component. It makes it a bit easier to see the...

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Legislative Acts v. Executive Orders

As part of a different research project I was thinking about executive orders versus Congressional action. There are some political scientists I know who might now accuse me of not listening to them and that is fine, because I probably was not. I was under the impression that for the last several presidencies executive orders occurred with higher frequency than before. I found that was not the case. Going back to the 104th Congress you can see that executive orders are remarkably...

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ND Wages and Unemployment Benefits

There are lots of stories around unemployment benefits and the good or bad aspects of the policy enacted through the CARES act, specifically an additional $600 in benefits per week. Why that dollar value in particular? There was an intent to make it more of a locally based number, but that quickly became an intractable problem that would delay, arguably needlessly, necessary aid. As a result the legislation used more of a national average number. The upside is it should help maintain...

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Different Looks at Initial Claims in ND

While there are no shortages of economic issues to tackle these days the circumstances surrounding unemployment get a great share of the attention. I am not going to argue with that given the difficulty I have envisioning an economy doing “alright” with 20 million unemployed. Since the claims numbers sky rocketed people ask me less frequently (yes, that is less frequently, not stopped asking) if we are in a recession. It is also the case that the fiscal policy arguments right now in...

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