Economics International

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Unexpected gain in factory orders points to improving economy

Just one week after strong GDP growth, June durable goods orders point to an improving economy. The factory sector surged with much higher-than-expected 1.6 percent growth, following May’s decline.

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More mixed messages from the housing market: Prices up, sales down

The housing market provides more mixed messages about the economic recovery. On the one hand, home prices, as measured by the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index, are up just under 7 percent over the same time last year. Increasing home prices may boost consumer confidence and help accelerate economic growth. On the other […]

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A lesson from the worst paper of the year and a Turing test for economists

The popular press loves marijuana research. Even more so because much of it is dreck. I was reading a review of what has been called the worst paper of the year in marijuana research: I noticed that the principal investigator Hans Breiter was claiming to be a psychiatrist and mathematician. That is an unusual combination […]

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Higher education: You might get what you pay for, but probably not

College is expensive and it’s getting more expensive every year. Over the past five years, according to the College Board, in-state tuition and fees at Oregon’s public universities has increased 30 percent, while private institutions have seen a 19 percent increase. Over the same period, average student debt in the U.S. has increased 31 percent […]

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Employment situation stagnating in developed countries

The rate of unemployment across the 34 nations that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development rose in February. After three months of slowly declining unemployment, the recent uptick is viewed as a setback for the global economic recovery. The OECD reports the unemployment rate for its members—made up mostly of countries […]

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Ups and downs in Oregon employment

First, the good news: In 2013, Oregon outperformed the nation in job growth. Add to that, the good-but-don’t-too-excited news: U.S. employment is now back to where it was before the recession. And finally, the news that makes the first piece of good news look pretty weak:  Despite last year’s growth, it’ll likely be nine months to a […]

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The jobs and profits connection: Does it exist?

Under the headline of Soaring Profits but Too Few Jobs, the Wall Street Journal’s William Galston complains that “Companies have not boosted hiring in line with revenues, or wages in line with productivity.” This somewhat new line of thinking seems to ignore the observation that productivity gains have allowed businesses to increase sales without adding workers. […]

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Mixed messages in durable goods orders

Durable goods provided a mixed message on the economy. Last month’s strong performance pointed to continued growth. This month, however, suggested slow growth with the big bump aircraft and transportation new orders almost entirely offset by a drop in other capital goods orders, especially in fabricated metal products. Orders for durable goods show how busy factories […]

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Portland home prices: Recovery with seasonal slowing

  Portland home prices are up 13 percent from last year, despite seasonal slowing. Prices remain down 14.5 percent from the peak in mid-2007, Portland area home prices are up 23.5 percent from the bottom of the market in early 2012. While the Portland area has seen three months of declining home prices, this seems […]

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Oregon employment trends: Things look different here

State employment numbers came out this week. This ultimately leads to press releases and prognostications that now, things are starting to look better for job seekers. The good news: At 6.9 percent, Oregon’s unemployment rate fell its lowest rate in more than five years. The not-so-good news: Oregon’s employment growth is lagging the nation. The bad […]

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