Category Archives: Utah Business Columns

Uncertainty Creates a Greater Risk of Recession

Originally published in Utah Business.

Uncertainty. It’s something economists think about a lot. And for good reason―economies rise and fall based on the confidence of consumers and producers.

I recently read an economic summary distributed by an investment banking firm that quoted analyst Nancy A. Bush. She said: “The watchword at present is “uncertainty”–uncertainty about trade, uncertainty about the strength of economic growth, uncertainty about the start date of the next recession, and political uncertainty galore.”

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Utah has more millennials than any other state

Originally published in Utah Business.

Utah’s millennial population represents approximately 23 percent of the state (726,000 people). Roughly one in every four Utahns is a millennial―a  higher percentage than in any other state. As a cohort, Utah’s millennial population is 20 percent larger than the state’s Gen-X population and 39 percent larger than the state’s baby boomer population. Which begs the question: How does Utah’s large millennial population impact Utah?

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Parade for change

Originally published in Utah Business.

Bake the cake. Light the candles. The US celebrates 10 years of economic expansion this summer, making it the longest expansion on record, boding good news for our nation and state. There’s just one problem… we haven’t made much progress on the critical issues important to our long-term economy and its prosperity, leaving many to wonder how can we use this time of plenty to make needed reforms.

I’m fond of the saying, “The best time to fix the roof is before it starts raining.” During good economic times, it’s smart to address difficult issues such as entitlement reform, immigration policy, and infrastructure investment. But where to start?

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How to love your enemies

Originally published in Utah Business.

During a recent appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Democratic pollster Fred Yang summarized the modern political landscape by saying: “You get your reality from what channel you watch.”

His statement does not surprise me. If you watch Fox News, you celebrate our current president. If you watch CNN or MSNBC, you malign our current president. We are, in a very real way, what we watch.

In his new book, Love Your Enemies, Arthur C. Brooks, the former president at the American Enterprise Institute, provides an analysis of this type of “ideological siloing.” According to his writings, he says that not only do we stop interacting with people who hold opposing views but we hold contempt for them. He wants to start a countercultural movement to subvert the prevailing culture of contempt and open up our hearts to love more.  

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Utah’s economic commonwealth

Originally published in Utah Business.

Prominent Utah historian, Thomas Alexander wrote the Beehive State’s official history titled Utah, the Right Place, as part of Utah’s centennial celebration in 1996. Mr. Alexander, who is now a professor emeritus at Brigham Young University, specializes in western US history and frequently writes about economic themes. He coined the term “economic commonwealth” in describing Utah’s diversifying and evolving economy since 1980 and I think Mr. Alexander got it right.

While we typically think of a commonwealth as a US state (there are four of them) or the British Empire, the term dates back to the 15th century. The term describes a community founded for the public good and connotes a coming together of people to promote the group’s well-being.

In economic parlance, it represents an economy that is diverse, self-sufficient, and independent. It’s an economy that supports the general welfare, controls its destiny, and provides well for its citizenry. The Utah economy today is an economic commonwealth.

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Quality growth should be our north star

Originally published in Utah Business.

I recently moderated a panel for the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce about growth and Utah’s technology sector. The panel included Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Sandy City Mayor Kurt Bradburn, and Envision Utah CEO Robert Grow. We discussed the opportunities and challenges posed by quality growth, particularly around the Point of the Mountain at the intersection of Salt Lake and Utah counties. I gained several insights from the ensuing dialogue.

Mayor Bradburn governs at near ground zero for Utah’s growth: the tech-intensive corridor that stretches from Sandy to Pleasant Grove. When I asked him if growth pays for itself he said, “no” without hesitation. I wasn’t surprised.

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It’s time we combat America’s debt problem

Originally published in Utah Business

The late economist and former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Charles Schultze once said: “The deficit isn’t the wolf at the door; it’s termites in the woodwork.” This clever imagery reminds us that debt won’t blow our house down, but it will eat away at its foundation. Mr. Schultze’s keen observation stands in sharp contrast to a rising chorus of opinion leaders who argue that deficits don’t matter. I beg to differ.

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My political projections for 2019

Originally published in Utah Business.

While I love the start of a new year, I’m not sure if I’m ready for the dizzying array of political battles that will flood the airwaves and our electronic devices in 2019. We will be hit simultaneously with a capital city mayoral race and the beginning of a two-year battle for the White House and Utah governor’s office. Throw a new US Senator named Mitt Romney into the mix and it could be a lively year. Here are my 2019 political predictions:

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Tech vs. Coal. How Can Our State Share the Wealth?

Originally published in Utah Business.

Utah’s Carbon and Emery counties possess immense beauty between the slot canyons of the San Rafael Swell, the rock art in Nine Mile Canyon, beautiful pasturelands, and a historic rail town. However, beautiful scenery isn’t all these counties have to offer; the regions also possess vast coal reserves and a rich history of coal mining.

More than half of Utah’s coal production occurs in these two counties, but production has declined by 47 percent since its peak in 2001. In fact, the area suffers from a near decade-long recession and is now among the most economically disadvantaged regions in the state.

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Don’t Let The Bozos Grind You Down

Originally published in Utah Business.

We’ve all experienced it: a boss, a coworker, a friend, a family member, or some other person who grinds you down. They use their negative energy to thwart, hurt, offend, or stand in the way of your peace and progress. In extreme cases, you may even struggle to pick up the pieces and stand your ground.

Many names exist for these types of people. In a work setting, it may be a control freak, a jealous coworker, or a power monger. In a family setting, it may be a sibling or uncle who always says something critical or tries to manipulate you. Among friends, it may be the person who never pays back a debt, always seems to criticize, or lets their jealousy or insecurities derail or detract from a healthy relationship. In some (extreme) cases, it can be a full-blown narcissist who targets you, someone who has an exaggerated sense of importance and an inability to recognize your needs and feelings.

I’m fond of a saying coined by Silicon Valley marketing expert and author Guy Kawasaki. Writing to entrepreneurs he coined the phrase, “Don’t let the bozos grind you down.” Mr. Kawasaki’s message was directed towards business startups, but I like to apply the phrase to everyday life. Too often we let people who don’t have our best interests at heart bring us down. I call these people “bozos.”

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