EconoMeter | 2012


December 28, 2012 – EconoMeter panelists look back at 2012
SDUT’s Question: What surprised you most about the key economic indicators in 2012?
Gary London’s Answer: Less growth than expected. Given the more robust figures in the first quarter of 2012 I frankly expected an overall better economic growth year, which would have been reflected in stronger GDP growth and better gains in the job market.... Read the Article Here

December 21, 2012 – Time to get back into stock market?
SDUT’s Question: With the stocks rebounding in recent days, should big and small investors return to the stock market
Gary London’s Answer: No. While it is a good bet that there is further upside in the market, and it always is a good idea to have portions of your investment/retirement portfolio in the stock market, the time to invest would have been at the bottom – March 2009 – or thereafter!… Read the Article Here

December 7, 2012 – Should we replace $1 bill with a coin?
SDUT’s Question: Should the U.S. replace the dollar bill with the dollar coin and save a projected $4.4 billion over 30 years?
Gary London’s Answer: No. We should be going technological cold turkey by phasing out paper and coin money altogether. I buy coffee with my iPhone at Starbucks. I ought to be able to pay for anything, anywhere that way…. Read the Article Here

November 30, 2012 – Will you get a raise in 2013?
SDUT’s Question: Given the weak labor market, can workers hope for higher wages and benefits anytime soon?
Gary London’s Answer: No. Although it depends on the company and the sector. Certainly there is no future in Twinkies. Hopefully the 18,000 jobs lost to making and delivering useless, empty food can be picked up in the yogurt sector…. Read the Article Here

November 23, 2012 – Anything to be thankful for in this economy?
SDUT’s Question: Is there something you’re particularly thankful for, economically, this Thanksgiving weekend?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. I am thankful that we had another peaceful election. But I am mostly thankful that it is over because many business decisions have been frozen in place for almost a year pending the election outcome…. Read the Article Here

November 16, 2012 – What Tax Loopholes to Cut?
SDUT’s Question: Is there one deduction or tax break Congress and the president should reduce or eliminate to generate substantially more federal revenue?
Gary London’s Answer: No. But a combination of deductions and incentives would, coupled with contraction. One seemingly unnecessary tax credit is to the oil companies, who have combined traditional sources with fracking to create enormous new wealth…. Read the Article Here

November 4, 2012 – Are We Better Off This Election Day?
SDUT’s Question: Are voters better off economically this election day than they were on election day 2008?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. The crash of 2009/2010 occurred in between the elections, and we’ve already accounted for the losses and dead bodies. The worst is behind us. No one wants to turn back the clock four years and go through this again…. Read the Article Here

October 26, 2012 – Is China a currency manipulator?
SDUT’s Question: If China is officially labeled as a “currency manipulator,” as Mitt Romney proposes if he wins, is there an economic upside for U.S. consumers?
Gary London’s Answer: No. The Chinese are very sensitive about controversy. And, we owe them a lot of money. So, it will hurt trade relations and drive up the cost of repayment of debt to them…. Read the Article Here

October 12, 2012 – Will gas spikes hit the local economy?
SDUT’s Question: Will the temporary spike in gas prices have any longer-lasting impact on consumer confidence and the San Diego economy?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. It will be a good one. Recognizing that this is a temporary spike (and we have VERY short memories) these ever more frequent events help us to reconsider our relationship between where we live and where we work…. Read the Article Here

October 5, 2012 – EconoMeter panel debates the debate
SDUT’s Question: Did the presidential candidates’ comments satisfactorily address the many issues facing the economy in 2013 and beyond? (Please give each a grade for their answers on the economy.)
Gary London’s Answer: No. Obama: C  Romney: C  I would give an “F” to the useless moderator. I didn’t hear much about economically retooling America: What will we manufacture? What skills will be required? What sectors do we encourage?… Read the Article Here

September 28, 2012 – Consumer confidence a good indicator?
SDUT’s Question: Does higher consumer confidence point to an upturn in the economy? (Is the Conference Board’s index a good indicator because it fluctuates from month to month?)
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. I believe that consumer confidence ultimately drives the recovery. Here is my algebra: Confidence = spending = upsurge in economic activity = GDP growth… Read the Article Here

September 21, 2012 – Do tax cuts lead to economic growth?
SDUT’s Question: Do tax cuts lead to economic growth
Gary London’s Answer: No. I do not believe that most people and businesses look to the taxing system as overly prescriptive in determining their business strategies or their consumption. Less taxes are always more appealing, but historically lower tax rates have not produced jobs or increases in GDP… Read the Article Here

September 13, 2012 –
Fed’s actions enough?
SDUT’s Question: Will the Fed’s latest moves to keep interest rates low and expand the money supply stimulate the economy enough to produce much more job creation?
Gary London’s Answer: No. This stimulus is not a weapon of mass destruction. The consensus is that the Fed had to act, and this is the only act they have. It can’t -—in and of itself — be sufficient. This latest move should be better viewed as a message to Congress to legislate… Read the Article Here

September 7, 2012 – Are we better off? EconoMeter panel knows
SDUT’s Question: Is the U.S. better off today than it was four years ago? How about individual Americans?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. While I am aware that this question tempts us to get political when all I can offer is an economic perspective, the U.S. is far better off today than we were four years ago when we were positioned atop an economic cliff, tottering, at the end of the Bush administration… Read the Article Here

August 31, 2012 – Will workers get raises next year?
SDUT’s Question: Besides CEOs, can rank and file workers expect a raise in the next 12 months and, if so, in what sectors?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. In general, better educated persons — think college educated – mostly can expect to receive pay raises, lesser educated less so. Those sectors most promising are in the engineering/bio-med/high tech sectors… Read the Article Here

August 24, 2012 – EconoMeter asks Obama, Romney about the economy
SDUT’s Question: Do you have one question on the economy that you would ask President Obama and Mitt Romney – and if so, what would it be andwhy?
Gary London’s Answer: This is tough because both candidates are shadow boxing and not engaged in substantive dialogue at the moment… Read the Article Here

August 17, 2012 – EconoMeter takes pulse of VP choice Ryan’s budget
SDUT’s Question: With Rep. Paul Ryan’s selection as Mitt Romney’s running mate, will Ryan’s budget plan effectively reduce the federal deficit?
Gary London’s Answer: No. While any budget efficiency efforts are laudable, deficit reduction is mainly achieved through accelerated taxable spending on new housing, capital goods and consumer items made in the U.S. So it all comes back to the state of the economy.And on that matter over the past week the designation of Mr. Ryan appears to have taken the slate off message… Read the Article Here

August 10, 2012 – Will the Olympics return London’s investment?
SDUT’s Question: Will the London Olympics, which cost $14 billion to put on, yield the projected $20 billion economic payback?
Gary London’s Answer: No. At least not in the strictest economic measure. The down payment for infrastructure of the Olympic games is paid back over time. As Americans we usually measure such an investment through a return expressed over a 7-10 year holding period. In Great Britain they measure return over a much longer period, often a generation or more. By that measure the investment will pay off… Read the Article Here

August 3, 2012 – Should the Fed have acted?
SDUT’s Question: So the Federal Reserve decided not to do anything at its meeting Wednesday. Was that the right decision?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. At this point, the FOMC can only purchase government securities – an act that would keep the cost of borrowing low in an effort to extend credit in the U.S. economy. But that is unfortunately not the problem, as costs of money are already historically low. The problem is that economic growth is sluggish at record low costs of money… Read the Article Here

July 26, 2012 – Boot Greece out of the eurozone?
SDUT’s Question: Should Europe simply give up on debt-ridden Greece and let it leave the eurozone?
Gary London’s Answer: No. It is my understanding that six of the 17 EU nations are now in recession. Eliminating Greece would simply kick the fiscal can to the other nations, either further increasing the economic stress on the continent or accelerating the demise of the EU, and foisting continued global economic malaise… Read the Article Here

July 20, 2012 – Save defense jobs, damn the deficit?
SDUT’s Question: Considering the defense industry’s role in San Diego’s economy, should Congress reverse the defense cutbacks enacted in last year’s budget battle? If so, what countermeasures should be taken, such as cutting other programs, raising taxes or increasing the deficit?
Gary London’s Answer: No. It is entirely appropriate to cut defense spending, particularly as it relates to outmoded and bloated programs. No reasonable progress can be made to balance the budget without defense cuts. And the world doesn’t need to be stewarded by our big presence. Moreover, San Diego will not suffer… Read the Article Here

July 13, 2012 – EconoMeterists take pulse of economy at midyear
SDUT’s Question: What bright spot do you see in the economy and what worries you? What score, on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being best), would you give for the current state of the economy?
Gary London’s Answer: 5. The bright spot is that corporations have lots of money saved up and likely will spend it eventually. Interest rates are low. The spirit of entrepreneurism is particularly robust. The lackluster economic indicators should worry me: While pointed mostly in the right direction, most of the metrics are not sharply pointed upward. They are sort of sloping upward. But eventually demand will cause growth at a more robust pace… Read the Article Here

June 29, 2012 – Will AZ immigrant ruling give SD economic boost?
SDUT’s Question: Will the “show us your papers” decision by the Supreme Court on Arizona’s immigration law lead to many of those worried workers moving to California and boosting local growth and the economy?
Gary London’s Answer: No. Loss of job prospects is scarier to an illegal than a Supreme Court ruling. By far the greater impact on illegal immigration, which has resulted in fewer border crossings, is the recession, and, specifically the decline in the construction industry… Read the Article Here

June 22, 2012 – What impact does Greece have on the U.S.?
SDUT’s Question: Does the outcome of the Greek election bode well for a resolution to the European debt crisis and general economic improvement in the U.S. as well?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. In the sense that their crisis was temporarily averted. But obviously it’s only a stop gap to a bigger problem with the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain) that will keep impacting us until there is a permanent fix. I note that Greece has nothing to do with U.S. economic improvement. If there was not a Greek crisis, the U.S economy would still be sluggish… Read the Article Here

June 15, 2012 – Can Americans recoup drop in net worth?
SDUT’s Question: Can families recover the net worth they lost from 2007 to 2010 in the expected economic upturn? If so, how many years will it take?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. But don’t believe the errant government formula. The net worth numbers do not really measure income, which have declined, nor expenses, which are rising faster than the CPI. Investment returns are quite low, but the stock market and pension funds have recovered most of their losses… Read the Article Here

June 8, 2012 – Will pension vote result in ‘brain drain?’
SDUT’s Question: Will the election results on pensions in San Diego and elsewhere lead to a brain drain in government workers as benefits are cut to balance budgets?
Gary London’s Answer: No. The election results edified citizens belief that government has grown beyond our ability to support it. The original concept of the guaranteed and higher pensions was that it was coupled with the tradeoff that people would work for salaries generally lower than in the private sector… Read the Article Here

June 1, 2012 – EconoMeter panel looks for safe, lucrative investments
SDUT’s Question: With the financial prospects so muddied, is there a safe and lucrative place to put your savings and investment dollars?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Real estate. You would expect me to say this since I am focused on this sector. Yet, I truly see this moment as the inflection point: The economy is slowly recovering, interest rates are very low, activity levels are mounting and Realtors are reporting multiple bid offers amid declining inventory. The investment focus at the moment should be on residential real estate (homes as well as investment grade properties) and in the urban and coastal neighborhoods… Read the Article Here

May 25, 2012 – Will there be a run on Greek banks?
SDUT’s Question: Do you expect a run on banks in Greece or other European countries in the next six months?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Greece is “the mouse that roared.” While small (Greece has an economy about the size of New York City) the problem is the possibility of Greece folding its hand and giving the signal for others to follow. There will be a run on all of the PIGS’ [Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain] banks if the European Central Bans stops backing them… Read the Article Here

May 18, 2012 – Is there a magic budget bullet?
SDUT’s Question: Is there a short-term fix to the state’s budget woes that varies from the cuts and higher taxes being considered?
Gary London’s Answer: No. But there are many longer-term fixes. I have one specific idea: the state should tax business and professional services, a big and rising part of our economy which so far have escaped taxation. The economy, of course, has to grow to increase all sorts of currently missing revenue. Yet, the greater fixes must answer the question “What is the purpose of government?”… Read the Article Here

May 11, 2012 – Is income inequality a threat to America’s prosperity
SDUT’s Question: Is income inequality a threat to America’s prosperity?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. The core of our economic health is rooted in our tradition of the dominance of the “middle class” in our society, however defined under a broad umbrella of economic circumstances, from prosperous to struggling. It is mostly not about the good fortune of the “one percenters”… Read the Article Here

May 4, 2012 – Are unpaid internships worth it?
SDUT’s Question: Should students or unemployed people accept an unpaid internship with the hopes of getting a paid job in a few weeks?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Many accounts show that persons who enter the workforce as unpaid interns are considerably better positioned to achieve paid employment. It shows commitment, hones and updates skills, and opens up a network to potential employers… Read the Article Here

April 26, 2012 – Should we cap interest rates on student loans?
SDUT’s Question: Is it wise economic policy to cap college student loan interest rates?
Gary London’s Answer: No. While the ramifications to current holders of these loans can be apocalyptic, from an economic policy perspective capping interest rates is a subsidy that sends the wrong message to universities… Read the Article Here

April 20, 2012 – Tax refund – spend or save
SDUT’s Question: Should taxpayers spend their refunds to boost the local economy?
Gary London’s Answer: No. Since 75 percent of taxpayers receive a refund, spending it might slightly boost the local economy. This would also be a windfall for local and state government receiving retail sales tax revenue . Yet, what we purchase is mostly not produced here so those purchases wouldn’t translate into manufacturing employment… Read the Article Here

April 13, 2012 – What letter grade did experts give economy?
SDUT’s Question: What letter grade would you give the national economy and local San Diego County economy for the first quarter of 2012?
Gary London’s Answer: U.S.: C San Diego: B+. I am reverting to the average. While the direction of the recovery seems to be good, the pace is still relatively anemic. Growth is better and we are adding jobs. The broad strength and flexibility of the U.S. economy are again making the difference relative to other nations… Read the Article Here

April 6, 2012 – Does the lottery have any economic benefit?
SDUT’s Question: Do lotteries have any economic benefit? (Did you play the Mega Millions?!)
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. In a sense it’s a voluntary contribution to a good cause – schools — and as such not all that different from Warren Buffett’s voluntary contribution to the reduction of the federal Treasury. However, lotteries are disproportionately played by people with big dreams and less income… Read the Article Here

March 30, 2012 – If Supreme Court rejects Obama care does it matter to economy?
SDUT’s Question: If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns or sharply scales back the Obama health care law, will there be serious economic implications for those who again would not be able to afford health insurance?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. The 78 million aging baby boomers are a ticking time bomb. As they get sicker so will the federal budget. The health insurance system currently allows the dumping of the very sick, places limitations on the pre-existing sick and imposes onerous premiums. Spreading the financial base would be highly beneficial and would contribute to economic prosperity, as it has in Germany… Read the Article Here

March 23, 2012 – Is GOP’s budget plan the answer?
SDUT’s Question: Is the latest Republican plan to reform income tax rates and cut federal spending a credible way to reduce the deficit?
Gary London’s Answer: No. The Republicans want to cut taxes and not raise revenues. The Democrats want to raise revenues and not touch entitlements. Each wants to play in their own sandbox and not invite the other to play with them. Washington policy makers like to appear to act without actually addressing real budget problems with real solutions. We must re-legitimize compromise… Read the Article Here

March 16, 2012 – Their secret indicator? EconoMeter panelists reveal theirs?
SDUT’s Question: Do you have any noneconomic indicators that tell you how the economy is doing?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. I call it the “Cocktail Party Inverse Correlation Matrix.” It goes like this: When I attend a social event attended by “one percenters,” such as doctors and lawyers, I listen to their conversations. When talk is dominated by investment braggadocio about how much real estate or stock prices have increased (theoretically), that is my measurement cue… Read the Article Here

March 8, 2012 – Is Dow a good indicator of US economy?
SDUT’s Question: Does the Dow Jones average topping the 13,000 mark for the first time in four years signal that the economy is on a sustainable upward swing?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Dow 13k hasn’t yet proved to be sustainable. Stock growth may only mean that there is a lack of better investment alternatives for investors. The Dow is only a narrow measure of a few stocks –and even fewer larger investors– who can easily skew results… Read the Article Here

March 2, 2012 – As gas prices go up, will economy go down?
SDUT’s Question: Are you concerned that the economic recovery will be threatened by rising gas prices?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Any dollars put in the tank detract from dollars that could be spent elsewhere. The ripple effect will be felt throughout the economy as prices for many commodities will rise. The main beneficiaries of rising gas prices are the oil companies and the Middle East potentates and Russia: the U.S. consumer gets screwed…. Read the Article Here

February 24, 2012 – Greek bailout strategy right in Europe?
SDUT’s Question: Does the Greek debt solution provide a good model for handling other European countries’ financial problems and getting the European economy growing again?
Gary London’s Answer: No. It’s not a model. It’s a bailout. A true model of reform would be an “all-in” united Europe, not the European Union’s half-baked structure of political sovereignty, yet financial alignment. The Greek bailout is probably only good for a few months, even with the latent fiscal reform… Read the Article Here

February 17, 2012 – Will Obama’s new tax plan help economy?
SDUT’s Question: Do you think President Obama’s proposed tax structure, which includes higher taxes for the wealthy, in the new federal budget will benefit the economy?
Gary London’s Answer: No. However, I am only on page 1,247! It’s an election year and this president or, for that matter, any congressman or senator, will be looking at the budgeting process with an eye toward re-election, and utilize it to promote their agendas. I would want to emphasize that the best way to boost federal revenue is to continue to get people back to work…. Read the Article Here

February 11, 2012 – What are the pros and cons of Fed policy?
SDUT’s Question: Is the economic payback from the Federal Reserve’s low-interest-rate policy worth the minimal returns to seniors and others dependent on fixed-income investments?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. While the low rates of return are catastrophic for seniors, many of whom have the greatest parts of their liquid assets in CDs, these same low rates keep inflation down, provide economic stability and fuel the recovery… Read the Article Here

February 4, 2012 – How much should the wealthy be taxed?
SDUT’s Question: Is raising the effective federal tax rate on the wealthy to 30 percent, regardless of income source, good economic policy?
Gary London’s Answer: No. I would classify this as more of a political approach than an economic solution because taxing the wealthy just wouldn’t bring in enough additional revenue, and could very well be economically counterproductive. We need to be far more focused on simplifying the tax code and closing loopholes. And charging rates to all taxpayers that reflect movement toward a more balanced budget… Read the Article Here

January 27, 2012 – Does the $1.5 billion stadium proposal make economic sense?
SDUT’s Question: Is a proposed $1.5 billion stadium complex on the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal an economically wise investment for the San Diego region?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. And I like the vision, but let me inject some sobriety into the discussion. There are inherent — almost insurmountable– entitlement obstacles that this project will encounter. Assuming that you could ultimately overcome such monumental issues as the California Coastal Commission’s priority status for water-dependent uses such as the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal, loss of union jobs, etc… Read the Article Here

January 21, 2012 – Do S&P downgrades in Europe matter?
SDUT’s Question: Does it matter that S&P downgraded European bonds in terms of the economic impact both there and in the U.S.?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. But perhaps not much. The U.S. is recovering, and accomplishing this without a strong Europe. The real risk lies in the long term, tightening credit and negatively affecting both public and private investment in Europe, and halting economic growth. Because there is global economic interconnectivity, there can be some domestic impact… Read the Article Here

January 14, 2012 – Should schools invest in teachers or tablets?
SDUT’s Question: Should school districts use construction dollars for computers and other equipment when there are so many maintenance and capital needs?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. The new course of education is arguably the cornerstone issue of our time, locally or nationally. While the choices are sobering, the new educational paradigm requires a transformation of what is a classroom and how we teach inside of it. My view is that we probably have too many schools, too many old schools and too much maintenance of the status quo– all of which are up against fiscal impossibilities… Read the Article Here

January 7, 2012 – Will home prices rise in 2012?
SDUT’s Question: Will San Diego County median home prices rise in 2012? They dropped 6 percent from $335,000 in November 2010 to $315,000 in November 2011.
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. 2011 prediction, $350,000; 2012 prediction, $324,500. I was substantially off last year, principally because the market clearing of distressed properties coupled with the festering real and perceived problems in the global economy, caused the “Want to” sellers to stay on the sidelines for another year and concede an anemic year to the “have to” distressed part of the market. This year the clearing should be completed (an end of the so-called “shadow inventory”), although now I have lost all courage and will only predict a modest increase of 2-3% increase in the median overall, but selected ZIP codes will experience a 4-5% increase and possibly more as foreclosures decline and the economy improves….. Read the Article Here