Most recent discussion of oil markets focused on prices and the volatility of price movements. These are surely very important, and the driver of almost everything else happening in energy markets. Looking at North Dakota here is the percentage change in labor force (year-over-year) for North Dakota as a whole and for the four core Bakken oil counties.
The news of arrests and the booming scandal in world soccer was not a surprise today. FIFA is not an organization known for transparency and good governance. This led me to consider the situation in other sporting leagues, and I think they are all prone to scandal. I am not talking about the silliness related to Tom Brady and football security, I mean real scandals. Domestic abuse in the NFL. Concussions in the NFL. Steroid use in baseball. There is probably something in hockey but most people are not watching and do not care.
The issue of property tax valuations is a familiar one to most people in North Dakota. I came across this article about the situation in Michigan through a tweet. It is about a month old but it raises some interesting questions. The focus of the debate in North Dakota, as far as I ever heard, has been property taxes paid by individual homeowners. In Michigan businesses are challenging valuations, winning, and the local areas are dealing with revenue shortfalls as a result.
This is something of a followup to the discussions from the radio last week. I did some looking at the “Comprehensive Annual Financial Report” from the North Dakota Retirement and Investment Office to see what I could find related to the position of the pensions in North Dakota. For those not aware, pensions are a huge issue across the country these days. They came under fire in the case of Detroit; unfairly blamed in my opinion for the eventual bankruptcy of the city. Recently the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution prevented a renegotiation of the retirement benefits. We will see how that proceeds as Illinois is in a dire fiscal situation.
With the semester drawing to a close and the summer session getting ready to start soon my thoughts turned towards population issues. (I teach a population analysis class in the summer for the graduate students.) One of topic coming up in that class on a regular basis is pensions, particularly the math behind pensions. I thought a little post about the issues surrounding defined benefit pensions in order. JT also asked about alternative uses of the $3 billion available in the legacy fund when it becomes available in the future. So let’s start with this issue.