PERC Blog


Authored by PERC staff, the PERC Blog focuses on policy issues including economic trends, fiscal policy, Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs, income inequality and Federal Reserve policy.

It’s Time to End the Eviction Moratorium

Posted: August 19, 2021 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
Amid controversies and legal challenges, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention recently extended the federal eviction moratorium once again, this time to October 3, to cover areas with high levels of Covid-19 (which are about 80% of U.S. counties as of August 18, 2021). A few states, including California and New York, have also im...
Tags: Fiscal Policy

Is There a Limit to Government?

Posted: August 03, 2021 by Dennis W. Jansen, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
A central tenet of a free enterprise market economy is limited government. In this limited role, the government protects and ensures property rights, individual freedoms, economic opportunity, and competitive markets largely through an agreed-upon and enforceable set of rules. Government also has a limited role in addressing the provision of goo...
Tags: Fiscal Policy

Tariffs as Crony Capitalism

Posted: August 03, 2021 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
At a time when the lumber prices are skyrocketing, the Biden administration is considering increasing tariffs on Canadian lumber from the current 8.99% to 18.32%. The announcement was immediately cheered by the U.S. Lumber Coalition, but criticized by Canadian authorities, who called the increase a “tax on the American people,&rdq...
Tags: Fiscal Policy

U.S. Farm Subsidies: A Prime Example of Crony Capitalism

Posted: July 29, 2021 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
Nearly a century after the Great Depression, why are we still subsidizing farmers? U.S. farm subsidies are designated in the “Farm Bill” that is updated every five years. The latest version of the Farm Bill was signed into law in December 2018, and the federal government is currently paying about $25 billion annually to farmers prima...
Tags: Fiscal Policy

Supply Chain Risk: Is Government the Solution?

Posted: July 09, 2021 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu, and Andrew J. Rettenmaier
According to Kaygisiz (2019), active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) intended for the U.S. market are overwhelmingly manufactured outside the U.S. with India and China supplying 26% and 18%, respectively.  In addition, India is currently supplying 21% of prescription drugs in final dosage forms (FDFs) that the U.S. market consumes. This r...
Tags: Fiscal Policy

Federal Government ‘Debt’: Much Larger than You Have Been Told

Posted: June 14, 2021 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
When we think of the federal government’s liabilities, we primarily think of the debt held by the public, but its liabilities encompass much more. Each year, the Treasury publishes the Financial Report of the United States Government (FRUSG) which is intended to include the accounting of all liabilities. The liabilities reported in the FRU...
Tags: Fiscal Policy, Medicare

Texas has a Balanced Budget Requirement, Except When it Doesn't

Posted: June 11, 2021 by Dennis W. Jansen
As is widely known, Texas has a balanced budget amendment and our legislators are required to pass a balanced budget. Our legislators are even now writing budget bills that will apply to the coming biennium, the two fiscal years from September 2021 – August 2023. However, forecasting future tax collections and even spending for the next tw...
Tags: Fiscal Policy

Should the Corporate Income Tax Be Raised?

Posted: April 26, 2021 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
Negotiations among lawmakers of both parties over President Biden’s infrastructure plan have centered on two issues. First, the Biden administration sticks to a large $2.3 trillion spending program that includes not only many broadly-defined infrastructure spending items but also spending items that can hardly be regarded as spending on in...
Tags: Fiscal Policy

Trade-Offs in Winterizing the Texas Power Grid

Posted: March 17, 2021 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu, and Andrew J. Rettenmaier
On February 8, a Monday, ERCOT notified power generators that freezing temperatures were on the way, and at that time were forecast for February 11 to 15, Thursday through Monday.  Versions of this warning were repeated on future days.  On February 11, Thursday, ERCOT announced that there could be record peak demand for winter power du...
Tags: Fiscal Policy

The Comptroller and the Texas Budget: A Primer

Posted: January 13, 2021 by Dennis W. Jansen, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
The Comptroller's Duties The Texas legislature is meeting again beginning Tuesday January 12, to set the budget for the coming biennium.  As part of this budgeting process, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar is on the news discussing revenue forecasts for the next two years. What is a comptroller, an...
Tags: Fiscal Policy

Federal Fiscal Aid to States: Insurance or Bailout?

Posted: December 16, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu
One major reason for the difficulty of arranging a second major federal Covid-19 relief package is disagreement between the Senate majority and the House majority regarding federal fiscal aid to state and local governments.  The issue of providing fiscal aid to states has been so difficult that the proposed legislation is now split into two...
Tags: Fiscal Policy

"U.S. GDP Grew 33.1% In the Third Quarter!"

Posted: October 29, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen, Carlos I. Navarro, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) just reported that U.S. Real (or inflation-adjusted) Gross Domestic Product, U.S. Real GDP, grew at a record rate in the third quarter. This follows a record decline in the second quarter of 31.4%. What does this all mean with respect to our current economic condition? First, note that th...
Tags: Fiscal Policy

Forecasting Recovery from the Covid-19 Recession: The Long (and Winding?) Road

Posted: August 04, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
The nation’s output, real GDP (i.e., GDP adjusted for inflation), took a big hit in the second quarter, falling almost 10%. Looking forward, should we expect an improvement in economic conditions for the remainder of 2020? The second quarter includes the months of April, May, and June. Up to this point, April was the hardest...
Tags: Fiscal Policy

GDP Fell 32.9% in the Second Quarter! What Does that Mean?

Posted: July 31, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported yesterday that in its preliminary estimate the U.S. Gross Domestic Product – GDP – fell at an annualized rate of 34.3% in the second quarter. (The BEA also reported that Real GDP – GDP adjusted for inflation – fell at an annualized rate of 32.9%.) These are unprecedented...
Tags: Economic Trends, Fiscal Policy

New U.S. Unemployment Insurance Claims Drop to 2.1 Million for the Week Ending May 23; Number of Insured Unemployed Decline

Posted: May 29, 2020 by Carlos I. Navarro, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
For the week that ended on May 23, 2020, 2,123,000 workers filed unemployment insurance (UI) claims. This is the eighth week that initial weekly claims have declined from the previous week. Initial claims averaged a week-to-week decrease of 13.5% since April 4th. The highest initial claims were recorded the week ending March 28 when they reached...
Tags: Economic Trends, Fiscal Policy, Interactive

Regrets? Yes, Regrets About the CARES Act

Posted: May 20, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen
An article in The Wall Street Journal says that Bill Gates has regrets that the world was not better prepared for the pandemic.  While clear when vision is 20-20, would we make the same statement without the benefit of hindsight?  Should the world have been better prepared?  Quite possibly, although it is hard to predict the occur...
Tags: Federal Debt, Fiscal Policy

Private-Public Partnership in Fighting Covid-19

Posted: May 18, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu
Mitigating the Covid-19 pandemic is a public health campaign that requires the joint efforts of both the private sector and the government.  Private enterprises provide creative solutions to a host of problems encountered in the pandemic, whereas appropriately placed government interventions take a social perspective in the fight against Co...
Tags: Fiscal Policy, Health care

This Time Is Different: Women's Unemployment Rate Tops Men's

Posted: May 13, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen, Carlos I. Navarro, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
Starting with the recession of July 1981 to November 1982, and continuing with the three subsequent NBER-dated recessions of July 1990 to March 1991, March 2001 to November 2001, and December 2007 to June 2009, the unemployment rate for men has increased more during (or immediately after) a recession compared to the increase in the unemployment ...
Tags: Economic Trends, Fiscal Policy

Texas: the 2020 Fiscal Crisis

Posted: May 08, 2020 by Carlos I. Navarro
Contrary to what may be suggested, it is very difficult to assess public performance in an unprecedented situation. However, the natural law is constant in any equation. It is natural for humans to thrive in freedom. The right to enterprise, work and trade freely has been the most important variable when measuring the increase in real income in ...
Tags: Economic Trends, Fiscal Policy

Unemployment Rate in the US Hits Historic High Since Great Depression

Posted: May 08, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen, Carlos I. Navarro, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
Every month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases an Employment Situation Summary for the United States. The summary released on May 8th, 2020, includes national unemployment estimates for the month of April 2020. The unemployment data depicted below are seasonally adjusted and are reported by the BLS. The last reported data point for t...
Tags: Economic Trends, Fiscal Policy

Over 30 Million Unemployment Claims During the Last Six Weeks

Posted: May 01, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen, Carlos I. Navarro, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
For the week that ended on April 25, 2020, 3,839,000 workers filed unemployment insurance (UI) claims. The revised count for the week ending April 18 is 4,442,000 claims. The highest initial claims were recorded the week ending March 28, when they reached 6,867,000. In the last six weeks, we have seen over 30 million initial claims, a number whi...
Tags: Economic Trends, Fiscal Policy, Interactive

Unemployment Claims Over the Last Four Weeks Top 22 Million

Posted: April 17, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen, Carlos I. Navarro, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
For the fourth week in a row, millions of U.S. workers filed unemployment insurance (UI) claims. For the week that ended on April 11, 2020, 5,245,000 workers filed UI claims. The revised count for April 4 is 6,615,000 claims. For the weeks ending on March 28 and March 21, the number of initial claims were 6,867,000 and 3,307,000, respectively. I...
Tags: Economic Trends, Fiscal Policy

The U.S. lost 10% of its workforce in only three weeks; Texas lost almost 6%!

Posted: April 09, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen, Carlos I. Navarro, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
For the second week in a row, seasonally adjusted initial Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims topped 6 million workers. For the week that ended on April 4, 2020, 6,606,000 filed UI claims. Last week’s revised count is 6,867,000 claims, and for the week ending on March 21, the revised number of initial claims is 3,307,000. In the last three ...
Tags: Economic Trends, Fiscal Policy

Unemployment Insurance Claims Reach Another Record High

Posted: April 03, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen, Carlos I. Navarro, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
Seasonally adjusted initial UI claims reached an unheard mark of 6,648,000 for the week that ended on March 28, 2020. This more than doubled last week’s record of 3,283,000, which has been revised upward to 3,307,000. The initial claims over these past two weeks are as large as the first 28 weeks, or almost 7 months, of the Great Recess...
Tags: Economic Trends, Fiscal Policy

A Staggering Increase in Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance

Posted: March 26, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen, Carlos I. Navarro, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
The figure below presents the seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance in the U.S. for the first week of 2007 through the week ending March 21, 2020.  As is evident, there was an unprecedented increase in claims last week, to 3,283,000.  This is an increase of 3 million over the previous week, and this weekly numbe...
Tags: Economic Trends, Fiscal Policy

Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance

Posted: March 19, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen, Carlos I. Navarro, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
The figure below presents the seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance in the U.S.  beginning the first week of 2007 to the week ending March 14, 2020.  As is evident, there was an abrupt increase in claims last week by 70,000 workers from the previous week. While the initial claims reported for the past week will ...
Tags: Economic Trends, Fiscal Policy

Covid-19 and the Cost-Benefit Analysis

Posted: March 19, 2020 by Dennis Jansen, Liqun Liu
The novel coronavirus "Covid-19," first found in December 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has as of the morning of March 18, 2020 spread to 157 countries/regions with 207,615 confirmed cases and 8,249 deaths.  The corresponding numbers for the U.S. are 7,324 confirmed cases and 115 deaths, respectively.1 March 11 the...
Tags: Fiscal Policy

Riding the Spending Wave

Posted: July 06, 2018 by Andrew J. Rettenmaier
The Congressional Budget Office’s recently released long-term forecast does not paint a pretty picture of the federal government’s financial future.  Deficits are expected in all future years as federal spending grows faster than tax revenues. The aging of the US population combined with rapidly growing per capita health care sp...
Tags: Fiscal Policy

Fiddling While Rome Burns?

Posted: June 05, 2018 by Dennis W. Jansen, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
Economists often counsel that we should look at 'revealed preferences,' the idea that actions speak louder than words.  What does this viewpoint tell us about our commitment to fiscal responsibility since last January? Recent actions by Congress have both lowered tax revenues and raised previously set spending caps....
Tags: Fiscal Policy

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