What is the importance of the oil industry to employment in North Dakota? This is a really good question, and one that is not necessarily the easiest to answer. In the last year this same question generated all kinds of arguments about the relative importance of agriculture versus oil in the North Dakota economy. That debate is not the purpose of this post though.

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I would file this under the heading, we need to be seen doing something. The Fed has come up with a limit to the size of banks based on the amount of liabilities of the firm (WSJ story). This is where the combination of free market ideas and risk mitigation come into conflict. One of the first questions I ask my students in bank regulation is, “Is big necessarily bad?” What we do going forward is not clear, but this regulation isn’t going to affect current banks, as in make them get smaller. So how have we really changed things? We haven’t, but it looks like we are doing something.

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You can tell it is an election year. There are all kinds of polls being done (my household answered more than a few) about all types of issues. I heard some discussion (and if I can remember where I will post any available link) about how is North Dakota doing, as in an attitudinal survey. My guess is that people will say, overall, that North Dakota is doing well. I am not a huge advocate of such surveys because they typically seem too vague to me. I prefer to track more definite numbers when possible. Here is median income in North Dakota and the United States.

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