Arizona Investment Council Arizona Investment Council Sun, 12 Dec 2010 17:47:48 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Sorting Out Winners and Losers in Climate Change The study of economics is a lot like a film by Joel and Ethan Coen – you know the ending will be bad, very bad for somebody, but you can’t look away as the story rolls on and sorts-out the winners and losers.  I need to admit two things right up front:  sometimes I hang out with economists (having joined that “club” years ago in college), and I haven’t seen a Coen Brothers’ film I didn’t like.

]]> (Gary Yaquinto) Blog Fri, 10 Dec 2010 07:00:00 +0000
It’s Been a Long Road: Are We Headed for Recovery? On Wednesday I attended the 47th Annual Economic Forecast Luncheon presented by the Department of Economics at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business and JPMorgan Chase.  Overall, I came away optimistic about next year.  Not giddy, but optimistic.

Outlook for the national economy

Both economists who gave the national forecast, Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors and James Glassman of JPMorgan Chase, were optimistic about growth in the second half of 2011, and their forecasts for next year were quite similar:

  • 2-2.5 percent GDP growth through mid-2011
  • 3.5-5 percent GDP growth in the second half of 2011
]]> (Gary Yaquinto) Blog Fri, 03 Dec 2010 23:48:22 +0000
U.S. Competitiveness: The “Gathering Storm” Part 2 Warning: This blog post, second in the series looking at America's competitiveness, doesn't get any sunnier.  Gathering storm, indeed.

Earlier last month the World Economic Forum (WEF) released its annual Global Competitiveness Report.  This year, we are the fourth most competitive country in the world, behind Switzerland, Sweden, and Singapore.  Last year we were second.

Fourth place doesn't sound so bad, you say?  Oh, it gets worse.

Look at the table below comparing the United States' competitiveness scores with China's.  That's where it gets really scary.  Now, I'm not picking on China just because it's the thing to do.  I think that China should be our leading benchmark simply because it is the only economy in the world today with the size and might to rival the U.S. (no offense to Switzerland, Sweden, and Singapore).

]]> (Gary Yaquinto) Blog Wed, 17 Nov 2010 20:32:55 +0000
U.S. Competitiveness: The “Gathering Storm” Part 1 American competitiveness has been on my mind lately.  Last month, The National Academies released a frightening update to the "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" report it issued five years ago.  This iteration, subtitled "Rapidly Approaching Category 5" basically concludes that we weren't listening then, and now the problem is really bad.  Seriously this time, folks. 

Key takeaways and startling factoids from the Gathering Storm report:

]]> (Gary Yaquinto) Blog Fri, 12 Nov 2010 23:28:29 +0000
The Great Wyoming Wind Tax Debate Last week in my post Google Likes Wind. Shouldn't Arizona? I briefly mentioned the fact that the Wyoming legislature passed a new tax on wind producers in that state - the first move of its kind in the nation.  The new tax, set to take effect in 2012, has set off a windstorm (I couldn't help it!) about the pros and cons of taxing wind energy.

First, the details.  The new tax is a wind electricity generation tax of $1 for every megawatt-hour of electricity produced.  Also, Wyoming's policymakers have allowed the state's sales tax exemption on renewable energy equipment to expire as of 2011; so sales/use taxes of up to 6 percent will be required on wind turbines.  Finally, lawmakers have actually been talking about increasing the generation tax from $1 to $5 or $7 per megawatt-hour.

]]> (Gary Yaquinto) Blog Wed, 27 Oct 2010 23:53:35 +0000
In Memoriam: Jorge Luis Garcia I was saddened to learn last weekend of the death of a truly great Arizonan, Jorge Luis Garcia.  Jorge, the state Senate minority leader, was one of two Democratic candidates on the ballot for Corporation Commissioner.  He was, as the Arizona Republic well said, "a quiet champion of the little guy."

In his years at the Capitol (he served in the state House of Representatives from 1993 to 1997 and in the Senate since 2003) Jorge often eschewed partisan politics to do what he felt was right for Arizonans.

]]> (Gary Yaquinto) Blog Thu, 21 Oct 2010 23:40:52 +0000
Google Likes Wind. Shouldn’t Arizona? According to a new research report by the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory (LBNL), the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the "stimulus bill" as most of us know it) did a lot of good for America's wind industry:

  • The Treasury Department's 1603 cash grant program restarted stalled projects and saved or created 50,000 jobs in the U.S.
  • A record-breaking 10,000 megawatts (MW) of new wind capacity was built in 2009, thanks in large part to the 1603 cash grants.

Wind is hip, too - in May Google invested $38.8 million in two North Dakota wind farms.  And last week the company announced that it will invest in the Atlantic Wind Connection - a massive new project off the East Coast (see the map here).

]]> (Gary Yaquinto) Blog Wed, 20 Oct 2010 21:17:25 +0000
Does High-Speed Rail Between Tucson and Phoenix Make Sense? I don't know anyone who would classify the drive on I-10 from Phoenix to Tucson as particularly enjoyable.  There are often construction delays, traffic is always heavy (but still travelling at 75 mph), semi-trucks abound, and it seems like stretches of I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson are regularly closed due to accidents (it happened again just last week).

It all makes the idea of a high-speed rail line that would deliver me from downtown Phoenix to downtown Tucson in 30 minutes incredibly compelling.  It's an idea we've been talking about in Arizona for many years now.  Governor Napolitano talked about it in her first term.  A year and a half ago, Arizona-based Solar Bullet LLC proposed a 220mph solar-powered bullet train.  (In its first phase, the train would connect Tucson and Phoenix at an estimated cost of $27 billion).

The concept of high-speed intercity rail has been buzzing around nationally, too.  In early 2009, Congress added $9.3 billion in the American Reinvestment and Economic Recovery Act for development of high speed rail and other intercity rail.  And just yesterday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a Las Vegas gathering of transportation officials from western states that he expects 80 percent of American cities to be connected by high-speed rail in 25 years (at a total cost of $500 billion).

]]> (Gary Yaquinto) Blog Fri, 15 Oct 2010 13:12:51 +0000
A Short-term and Long-term Solution for Arizona’s Jobs Problem We got some good (or, at least, not so bad) jobs-related news last week: the Arizona Department of Commerce has revised its 2010 job loss forecast from 2 percent to 1 percent - meaning that analysts expect a loss of 25,700 Arizonan jobs this year rather than a loss of 50,400.  The Republic quotes the department's director of economic analysis as saying that since April, when the last forecast was published "the economy has actually improved."

The report cites $255 million in federal stimulus dollars and improved private sector hiring as reasons for the smaller job loss figure.  For 2011, the department has forecasted a net job gain of 0.7 percent, or 16,500 jobs. That will be the first annual net job gain Arizona has seen in 3 years.

Yet according to the Republic "while Arizona is losing jobs for the third year in a row and its 9.7 percent unemployment rate is at a 27-year high, there are thousands of job openings., for example, listed about 7,300 jobs in Arizona on Thursday."

]]> (Gary Yaquinto) Blog Mon, 11 Oct 2010 22:24:10 +0000
Is Arizona’s Water Crisis Headed Toward Catastrophe? "Gary, let's keep the water crisis from becoming a catastrophe!"

I thought about that comment, dated August 20, 2009 and signed Robert Glennon (on the inside flap of my copy of his book, Unquenchable) yesterday when I read this headline in the New York Times: "Water Use in Southwest Heads for a Day of Reckoning."

Every so often and we get frenzied about the water crisis, vowing to reduce our water consumption, increase water reclamation, and search for other sustainable supplies.  Then we turn our attention somewhere else and forget all about changing our water use habits.  If we keep doing the same thing, it is inevitable that the crisis will become a catastrophe.  That's when we'll really pay attention, but by then our options will be far less attractive than they are today.

]]> (Gary Yaquinto) Blog Thu, 30 Sep 2010 19:06:41 +0000