Category Archives: Utah Business Columns

An economist walks into a bar…learning from economic humor

Published originally in Utah Business.

Winston Churchill once said if you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three opinions. It’s a clever way of saying economics is an inexact science, and economists are known for equivocating. But do they also possess a sense of humor? Let’s consider both equivocation and humor and see if there are lessons to be learned.

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Hispanic Business is Utah Business

Originally published in Utah Business.

We should always walk like one family.
We are all in the same cause and need.
Together we make up the same future.
Alone we are not worth anything.
Together, we have great value.

                                     – Cesar Chavez

If you ever get the chance to interact with Javier Palomarez, take it.

Palomarez is the president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He not only sees the future, but he is also living it as the leader of America’s largest Hispanic business association. Our country’s economy benefits from his vision, hard work and commitment to commerce. By heeding his counsel to harness the strength of this country’s young, growing, creative and hard-working Hispanic population, we will be more prosperous as a state and nation.

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World Cup Soccer Fever

Originally published in Utah Business.

I love World Cup summers. It’s a time to give your work-a-day life a pause and pay attention to what really matters in life—futbol, or what us yanks like to call soccer. It turns out I’m not alone—far from it. The cumulative viewing audience for the 2014 World Cup will exceed an estimated 5.9 billion people, making it, by far, the world’s most watched sporting event.

Get ready for the global GDP to take a temporary hit as human productivity suffers. Here’s one soccer fan and economist who really doesn’t mind.

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Summer Reading: Insights from the Lessons of History

Originally published in Utah Business.

There must be hundreds of business books worthy of reading this summer. I recommend you add to this list a 1968 masterpiece I pull off my shelf from time to time called The Lessons of History. Authored by Will and Ariel Durant, this gem of a book will refresh your thinking, challenge your intellect and feed your soul.

Be forewarned … this is no ordinary book. The authors spent 40 years writing an 11-volume set on the history of civilization. As if that wasn’t a daunting enough task, they then distilled the lessons learned into this single-volume, 100-page book that includes profound insights about our world. It’s certain to give you more of a sixth sense about your business and your life.

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A Diversity of Gifts

Originally published in Utah Business.

I recently met with a business leader who shared an instructive thought about the value of diversity in an organization. She said, “When I’m in a meeting and all the people are the same, I think, ‘What’s the point?’ Someone could leave the room and you would make the same decision.” She told me she valued diversity because it brought needed perspective to her leadership.

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Income Inequality Less of a Problem in Utah

Originally published in Utah Business.

“Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.”

That classic line was made famous by Barry Switzer, the well-known Oklahoma football coach who was raised poor and went on to win a college football championship and the Super Bowl. And while I don’t hold him up as a role model, his famous quote about inequality and hubris hit a chord with me. We are all born into different economic circumstances and income inequality is a problem.

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Going to Pot

Originally published in Utah Business.

I read with interest New York Times writer David Brooks’ recent column on the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado. In typical Brooks fashion, he “smoked” the issue by pointing out that legalizing weed makes it “a bit harder to be the sort of person most of us want to be.”

I agree, and it got me thinking about the economic development advantage Utah will now have over Colorado because of its recent actions. The legalization of marijuana will make it harder for the Centennial State to be the kind of state it wants to be.

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Fast and Furious: Utah’s economy is ready to rock in 2014

Originally published in Utah Business.

I love the start of a new year. It’s a time to begin anew and take a fresh look at life. I find it’s also agood time to take a pause, learn from the past and build a better tomorrow.

The Utah Legislature understands the value of this type of introspection and long-term thinking. Last month they took time out of their busy schedules to attend a Legislative Policy Summit hosted by the David Eccles School of Business. It was my job to brief them on Utah’s current economic positioning. Here’s what I told them: Continue reading Fast and Furious: Utah’s economy is ready to rock in 2014

The Productive Middle

The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes observed that without government, the life of man becomes “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” Lately it’s seemed just the opposite—with government our economic lives are at risk. It’s as if we have a heart attack every three months, gradually ruining our economic health, causing self-imposed economic pain and diminishing our standing in the world.

There’s got to be a better way.

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