So J.T. and I discussed my post on tobacco bonds while I was on the radio today. One of the things that amazed him, and me too, was the notion the rate of smoking fell more than assumed. So, doing what I do, I went online and got some data, this time from the OECD.
The Washington Post had an excellent piece on states and how they handled their tobacco settlement dollars (available here). It is a longer article but well worth the read given that it is one of the first analyses of what states are doing with the money from this settlement. The answer for many: squandering it. I am not going to rehash all the details of the article but there are bigger issues to tackle.
I get a significant number of questions about markets and market interventions when I am on the radio. Part of this is due to the economic circumstances in North Dakota where significant growth is creating social tensions and frictions. Another key ingredient is the financial resources available to the state. Tax collections continue to do well, feeding the interventionist tendencies of politicians and policy makers.
The subtitle for this post could be why we need to resist the “temptation” to meddle with housing markets in North Dakota. There are times and places for interventions, but you need clear standards for action, clear goals, and clear exit strategies.
North Dakota’s economic performance and success is not news anymore. Well, alright, its news, but most people know about it. I have given interviews to media outlets around the country and the world about it, as have many others. So it is not a secret. So if there was an economic motive to migration, and there often is, people already know about it. Here is a graph of ND population change, migration in, and migration out. I calculate migration out as the difference between migration in and total population change.