My posting has been light, well nonexistent, as I am switching to a different web host. That should be finished soon and posting will continue. However, I looked at some labor market data for North Dakota cities and had to put together a quick post.
I am paraphrasing our President in the title obviously. At the point of making too much of a political observation, the President’s comments about insurance could be expanded into many other areas so I cut to the chase and suggest the larger lesson learned should be economic policy in general is not easy.
JT and I are devoting a portion of my weekly appearance to the Grand Forks Flood of 1997, and the business and economic consequences of the event. The consequences of some events are best understood with the perspective of time, and natural disasters are clearly this type of event. For today’s post I chose to look at unemployment, but in a slightly different way.
Last week on the Jarrod Thomas Show there was a caller suggesting some inconsistency between the data on Grand Forks sales tax and local economic events. I do not think this was an allegation of malfeasance, just that the numbers were not making sense. Sales taxes reached a record level in February of 2017, but the caller cited three factors seemingly at odds with this circumstance: » Read more
I think it hardly needs mentioning again, but I guess I will: the legislative process in North Dakota probably makes it even more important that we have some confidence in our revenue forecasts. Our legislators are meeting for three months to determine budgets for the next two years. There is always the possibility of a special session if need arises, but you want that to be the truly exceptional case. Now I am not suggesting that anyone will ever get the numbers spot on, 100% accurate, but we can get closer.
While I have yet to read the budget document in its entirety I think people are short-changeing the strategic aspects to budget announcements. I include a typical news article below. Offering up a particular suggestion for direction and then being willing to give on some aspects likely gets you back where you wanted to be originally.
The state released an updated forecast from Moody’s today along with some slides that make little sense (found here). I would go into the details of the forecast but why bother? We have absolutely no insight into the forecast process followed, the assumptions underlying any model relationships, or even a list of variables employed and the time period considered. Seriously, if this were my forecasting class, they would fail.
For the last few days I focused on state level tax data. The release of a new forecast and the general state of the forecast process promises many more posts to come on this topic. I thought for today I would turn toward a more local number. Grand Forks had its largest month for sales tax collections in its recorded history. What does this look like?
I continue to think about the tax situation in North Dakota right now, particularly trying to understand what the data are trying to tell us. Obviously I want to avoid a situation of torturing the data until they confess, but that should not stop us from slicing and dicing the data to find something meaningful.
We are getting a new forecast this week for tax revenues in North Dakota. Or so we are told. I’ve written about the problems with these forecasts in the past, but there is a further issue here needing discussion. The simple fact of the matter is a lack of good practice in the overall approach, particularly with how forecast results are disseminated.