Midwest Economy Blog
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By William Testa       February 14, 2006

Electric power is often considered the most transformative technology of the past 100 years. Its near universal adoption in our homes and workplaces (e.g., to power appliances, communications, and computers) is indeed remarkable. As a result, the electric industry today boasts $600 billion in assets in the U.S., as well as yearly sales of $260 billion (double that of the telecom industry)... Read More

By William Testa       February 7, 2006

Recently, companies from China have begun to explore direct investments in the Midwest and elsewhere around the world. Direct investment differs from portfolio investment, such as investment in U.S. Treasuries, in that direct investors have an equity interest that allows them to have some hand in the operation of the enterprise and its assets. Though direct investment from China is minisc... Read More

By William Testa       February 2, 2006

Necessity is the mother of invention, and if ever invention was needed, it is in today's rural America. This is especially true in the portion of the Midwest stretching from central Illinois westward to Kansas and Nebraska and, from there, north and south from the Dakotas in the north to west Texas in the south. There, declining population, disappearing towns, and falling incomes plague m... Read More

By William Testa       January 30, 2006

Sample-based estimates of payroll employment are among the most prominent and timely indicators of regional economic performance. Recent trends in reported payroll data indicate lagging economic performance in the Seventh Federal Reserve District, which comprises all of Iowa and major parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Payroll job growth over the past year varies among t... Read More

By William Testa       January 24, 2006

State and local government pension obligations have been growing at a rapid rate. Payouts from major public pensions rose by 50% from 2000 to 2004 to $118 billion according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While this payout only represented a little less than 2.5% of total 2003 state and local government spending, the picture may worsen as aging government work forces reach retirement age in gr... Read More

By William Testa       January 18, 2006

Many Midwest businesses are scrambling to adapt to the rise of China's economy in world trade and financial markets. Import competition is especially keen. Some Midwest automotive parts suppliers are watching with concern as China has climbed to the number four exporter to the U.S. behind Japan, Mexico, and Canada (CFL). How can U.S. businesses successfully adapt to the expansion ... Read More

By William Testa       January 13, 2006

So far this decade, the Chicago metropolitan area's economic performance has been disappointing. As in the surrounding Midwest, job declines during the recent recession were worse here than in the nation as a whole, and this area's job growth during the expansion has since been lagging. With this lackluster performance, there has been a special disappointment for Chicagoans; the metropoli... Read More

By William Testa       January 6, 2006

From the slow progress being made on the Doha round of global trade liberalization, it would seem that globalization is slowing down. Yet, this is not the case at all. As the 2002 Economic Report of the President articulated, globalization continues to be enhanced by ever-falling costs and technical advancements in communication and transportation. Such developments are magnifying trade f... Read More

By William Testa       December 1, 2005

The Council of Great Lakes Governors convenes December 13, 2005, in Milwaukee. At that time, the governors will discuss progress on region-wide procedures to regulate, protect, and control diversions of the waters of the Great Lakes basin, the largest single body of surface water in the world. Such actions are laudable for their foresight in sustaining the health of the Lakes ecosystem. I... Read More

By William Testa       November 22, 2005

The Midwest economy is lagging the U.S., but some states are doing better than others. These differences may help us understand the reasons for the region's lagging economy. Last week in Indiana, I presented some evidence that the entire region is growing more slowly than the nation. Payroll job growth in our Seventh Federal Reserve District is up only 0.6% for September from one ... Read More

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