EconoMeter | 2015



December 25, 2015 -The economy in retrospect: Surprises in 2016?
SDUT’s Question: What was the most surprising economic news in 2015?
Gary London’s Answer: Oil prices. The biggest surprise was the continued tanking of oil prices to inflation-adjusted levels that the nation has not seen in over 40 years. In light of that, it is…Read the Article Here

December 18, 2015 -Low oil prices – good or bad for economy?
SDUT’s Question: Are there any economic risks to keeping oil prices low?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. There are many, not the least of which is the tremendous job cuts now going on in the domestic oil fields and their corporate headquarters. While great for gasoline consumers, the reduction in pricing…Read the Article Here

December 11, 2015 -Raise interest rates – by how much?
SDUT’s Question: Should the Federal Reserve raise short-term interest rates (currently 0-0.25 percent) and, if so, by how much?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. A discount rate increase is actually a good sign for our economy. It appears that the Feds will raise it, telegraphing that the move will…Read the Article Here

December 4, 2015 -Selling online: Does San Diego’s economy benefit?
SDUT’s Question: Economically speaking, does San Diego County’s economy benefit from increased online retailing?
Gary London’s Answer: No. Its revenue neutral. Local jurisdictions collect the same sales tax from the state, regardless of whether you purchase an item from a local merchant or…Read the Article Here

November 27, 2015 -Thanks for what in the local economy?
SDUT’s Question: What are you most thankful for in terms of San Diego’s economy this Thanksgiving weekend?
Gary London’s Answer: Jobs. I am thankful that the regional economy has added a ton of jobs over this past year. I would be more thankful if…Read the Article Here

November 20, 2015 -Are SeaWorld’s fortunes looking up?
SDUT’s Question: Will SeaWorld’s newly announced its plans to change to its killer whale show and build a new hotel improve the company’s fortunes?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. But I wonder why they do not simply make a clean start and dramatically reposition the orca show, as well as all of the other animal performance shows, as nature lectures. I believe that…Read the Article Here

November 13, 2015 -New transportation funding: A godsend for San Diego?
SDUT’s Question: Will the new $339 billion transportation bill, passed by the House, speed important infrastructure in San Diego County?
Gary London’s Answer: No. It will take a long time to filter that money to our region. The bigger point is that we are on the cusp of radically new and different transportation choices, which will…Read the Article Here

November 8, 2015 -Is San Diego really worst city for creating wealth?
SDUT’s Question: Do you agree with a recent survey that says San Diego is the worst city to create wealth?
Gary London’s Answer: No. I will not dignify these media obsessive spot polls as being meaningful in any way. This poll, and others, put forward what has always been a…Read the Article Here

October 25, 2015 -Should restaurants ban tipping? EconoMeter panel advises
SDUT’s Question: Should restaurants ban tipping and instead raise meal prices so they can pay their workers a higher wage?
Gary London’s Answer: No. For at least two reasons: I like rewarding good service, and NOT rewarding bad service. If the restaurant eliminates tips than they presumably…Read the Article Here

October 18, 2015 -US lifts oil export ban — now what?
SDUT’s Question: Will lifting the ban on exporting U.S. crude oil lead to higher prices?
Gary London’s Answer: No. Energy exporting could actually lead to lower global energy prices, since they would increase oil supply around the globe. If the U.S. is exporting, it effectively means …Read the Article Here

October 12, 2015 -Buy or rent: EconoMeter panel advises
SDUT’s Question: Are rents rising so high that home buying becomes a viable option for many tenants?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Some renters should be purchasing. In many neighborhoods rent levels can exceed a mortgage payment on a similarly sized, type and located unit. Low interest rates make this so. The problem is…Read the Article Here

October 2, 2015 -Fed shutdown an economic bummer?
SDUT’s Question: Would a federal government shutdown hurt San Diego’s economy?
Gary London’s Answer: No. There is not going to be a federal shutdown. Of course a shutdown would impact our economy. We have a substantial…Read the Article Here

September 24, 2015 -Qualcomm layoffs: A bad sign for high-tech?
SDUT’s Question: Do job cuts at Qualcomm signal a tougher time for high-tech workers in the near future?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Products and needs change at a relatively rapid pace in the technology sector, and there are more disrupters. So, this year’s layoffs are…Read the Article Here

September 18, 2015 -Refugees: A boon to Europe and the U.S.?
SDUT’s Question: Do the arrival of Syrian refugees in Europe and possibly the U.S. offer an economic upside to the host countries and communities?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. The majority of the refugees are young, and will enter a European workface – once an initial investment is made in their stability and education – that has been rapidly…Read the Article Here

September 11, 2015 -Interest rates going up this month?
SDUT’s Question: Should the Federal Reserve raise short-term interest rates this month?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Such a rate increase would reflect confidence in a growing and strong economy. They may not, however, in light of the stock market decline which reflects a…Read the Article Here

September 4 2015 -High-paying job prospects: Skills count
SDUT’s Question: Will the employment picture improve enough to get a high-paying job with good benefits in the months ahead?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. The employment market continues to improve at a measured, but consistent pace. If you are highly educated and focused in certain high potential sectors, such as technology, medical services, etc., you are obviously much better off. The good news is that…Read the Article Here

August 28, 2015 -Does stock market decline signal a recession?
SDUT’s Question: Does the recent stock market decline signal a coming recession?
Gary London’s Answer: No. The stock market predicted 14 of the last eight recessions, so it is a dubious track record! It is far more important to look at…Read the Article Here

August 21 2015 -China currency drop: Any impact on U.S. economy?
SDUT’s Question: Does China’s currency devaluation signal worsening times for its economy with some impact on the U.S.?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Of course it signals worsening economic times for the Chinese economy, reflecting a slowdown in their export trade. But I don’t see it having…Read the Article Here

August 14, 2015 -Parental leave: A bonus to business?
SDUT’s Question: Are extended parental leave policies good for employers?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. This sends the right signal to employees, although I understand that they seldom over-indulge because of competitive peer pressure. I would …Read the Article Here

August 7 2015 -Does peso’s drop affect San Diego and Tijuana’s economy?
SDUT’s Question: Will there be a local impact from the declining peso on San Diego or Tijuana’s economy?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. A declining peso greatly impacts a Mexican’s cross-border purchasing power in all sectors, including housing, professional/business services and retailing. But I think that it mostly impacts…Read the Article Here

July 31, 2015 -Raise capital-gains rates?
SDUT’s Question: Should the capital gains tax rate be raised to discourage short-term investing, as Hillary Clinton suggests?
Gary London’s Answer: No. I expect that such tax-avoidance interference in the stock market would cause unnatural and unnecessary aberrations, and could take the focus off of pure investment decisions as more investors look …Read the Article Here

July 24, 2015 -Is Chargers stadium EIR a wise expense?
SDUT’s Question: Is it economically wise for the city to spend $2.1 million on an expedited EIR to replace Qualcomm Stadium?
Gary London’s Answer: No. This expenditure is mostly about politics, not economics. This feels more like a form of “going through the motions” so that city policymakers can tell the electorate that they tried! I’m thinking the better political approach now is to …Read the Article Here

July 17, 2015 -Are local CEOs paid too much?
SDUT’s Question: Is CEO pay too high?
Gary London’s Answer: No. It’s a “bundled” salary, demonstrating that most of the pay corresponds to stock holdings, and cashing in on those, not actual salary. They can…Read the Article Here

July 10, 2015 -What to do about Greece, Puerto Rico
SDUT’s Question: Should we forgive some of the debt burden on Greece and Puerto Rico?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. But conditionally. Surely the emphasis should be on debt restructuring, with the long-term goal being a prosperous and more…Read the Article Here

July 3, 2015 -Comic-Con: Lower hotel rates to keep the con?
SDUT’s Question: Should hotels agree to limit their room rate increases during Comic-Con to keep the convention in San Diego?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Yet ultimately this is a market-driven decision and must be voluntary. I would think that the concern from hoteliers is that they are, in effect, exchanging one potentially occupied room by…Read the Article Here

June 26, 2015 -Raise taxes for infrastructure?
SDUT’s Question: Must taxes be raised to fund the ever-increasing bill for infrastructure and deferred maintenance throughout the country?
Gary London’s Answer: No. I am frankly tempted to say yes, but well before taxing the general public, the users should pay, if possible, through user fees, tolls, etc. Technology opens up…Read the Article Here

June 19, 2015 -Overtime pay: Should more get it?
SDUT’s Question: Should more people be made eligible for overtime pay?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. As a matter of principle, I am in favor of people being paid for the hours they invest. Perhaps there will be unintended consequences with the new rules, including…Read the Article Here

June 12, 2015 -IMF to Fed: Raise rates?
SDUT’s Question: Do you agree with the International Monetary Fund that the Fed should wait until next year before increasing interest rates?
Gary London’s Answer: No. The U.S. is an economic island of prosperity within a sea of global economic storms. The IMF is reflecting their concerns about the problems in Europe, the slowing of Pacific Rim and…Read the Article Here

June 5, 2015 -FIFA corruption: Is sponsor boycott the answer?
SDUT’s Question: Should businesses withdraw endorsements from FIFA’s soccer events because of alleged kickbacks and corruption?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Endorsement money is what has fueled this bribery ring, and it is presumably the lack of it, or new rules about it, that will effect overall change. To put it more bluntly…Read the Article Here

May 29, 2015 -Online apps vs retail: Who’s the winner?
SDUT’s Question: Are you concerned that online service delivery apps will crowd out traditional retail and service businesses?
Gary London’s Answer: No. Look at retail “bricks and mortar” vs. Internet retailing: They find a way to merge and complement. Retailers shrink their physical store sizes and offer Internet sales. Some retailers, such as…Read the Article Here

May 22, 2015 -New questions on stadium plan
SDUT’s Question: Are there any outstanding questions you have on the financing plan for the new Chargers stadium?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Why was it necessary to choose between site locations — downtown vs. Mission Valley? It seems to me that the city and Chargers could…Read the Article Here

May 15, 2015 -Slow consumer spending a concern?
SDUT’s Question: Are you concerned that consumer spending is not increasing at the same healthy rate as job growth?
Gary London’s Answer: No. The consumer spending numbers are impacted by income growth. Achieving post-recession profitability was the first order of business. That set the stage for expansion. Job growth has been…Read the Article Here

May 8, 2015 -Should we ban building during the drought?
SDUT’s Question: Is there a point at which San Diego water agencies should impose a building moratorium due to the drought?
Gary London’s Answer: No. Imposing moratoriums, which would cut to the heart of economic prosperity, is about the last thing they should do. Such a water-imposed moratorium would be based on multiple erroneous assumptions, including:…Read the Article Here

May 1, 2015 -Ready for ‘The Big One’?: EconoMeter’s reality check
SDUT’s Question: In the wake of the earthquake in Nepal, is California ready for the potential economic devastation of the “Big One”?
Gary London’s Answer: No. Droughts, earthquakes and fires top the list of prospective natural disasters in our state, yet there is relatively little foresight. It is human nature, and a lot of politics, which forces…Read the Article Here

April 24, 2015 -Death to ‘death taxes’?
SDUT’s Question: Should Congress eliminate all estate or “death” taxes, which now apply to only about 5,500 taxpayers with estates worth at least $5.4 million?
Gary London’s Answer: No. This is a tax that hurts no one – unless you believe in the afterlife; that everyone subject to it plans for in advance; and that if eliminated only benefits the heirs who didn’t earn the taxable gains in the first place. In fact,…Read the Article Here

April 17, 2015 -Apple Watch: A good economic investment?
SDUT’s Question: Is it economically wise to buy an Apple Watch or similar first-generation products?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Just because things always get better, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t buy it now. There is the “opportunity cost” of missing the enjoyment of having it early, just to…Read the Article Here

April 10, 2015 -Social responsibility: An EconoMeter view
SDUT’s Question: Is there an economic bonus for outspoken corporate social activism, as witnessed in the recently passed religious freedom laws?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. I think that it is important that businesses weigh in as they best can, by exercising their influence through their community presence. No doubt this will…Read the Article Here

April 3, 2015 -Land-use votes – good for economy?
SDUT’s Question: Is there an economic impact from land-use referendums and initiatives, such as the current drive on the One Paseo project in Carmel Valley and last year’s Barrio Logan community plan update?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. And it is resounding. The cost of running these referendums and initiatives is reflected in project feasibility, including the actual costs of running a campaign, plus the costs of extended time delays and increased costs if and when the project…Read the Article Here

March 27, 2015 -Will high utility rates hit our economy?
SDUT’s Question: Do San Diego’s relatively high utility rates pose a long-term problem for continued economic growth?
Gary London’s Answer: No. My answer is by no means an endorsement of high utility rates, nor the monopoly on the delivery system which contributes to this, both of which I find disturbing. However, what matters more…Read the Article Here

March 20, 2015 -Fast track trade authority: A must for U.S. economy?
SDUT’s Question: Do you support granting President Obama fast track trade negotiating authority?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. The U.S. has been stubbornly slow on overall integration with modern global economic trends. This not only includes trade deals, the focus of this legislation, but also…Read the Article Here

March 13, 2015 -Interest rate hike ahead?
SDUT’s Question: Do the latest favorable job numbers mean higher interest rates are just around the corner?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. These were the economic signs that the Fed was anticipating. We are now experiencing the initial catalysts to inflation, which will ultimately cause all interest rates to…Read the Article Here

March 6, 2015 -New recording fee for affordable housing?
SDUT’s Question: Do you support the proposed $75 per real estate transaction fee to fund affordable housing?
Gary London’s Answer: No. The amount of housing this would build statewide is deminimus — think 5-7,000 units — around the state. I know subsidized housing advocates would say…Read the Article Here

February 27, 2015 -Water shortage: An economic challenge?
SDUT’s Question: Despite some rainfall, will San Diego’s economy have to make radical changes if the current drought continues indefinitely?
Gary London’s Answer: No. It will be more like incremental adjustments, many of which are in process. For instance, Poseidon in Carlsbad will be online later this year, providing our…Read the Article Here

February 20, 2015 -Does a new stadium make economic sense?
SDUT’s Question: Is there an economic argument in favor of building a new Chargers stadium?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. But it is an ephemeral argument. Certainly construction and permanent jobs are created. There is a tax upside. There is the “image” upside, and the positive…Read the Article Here

February 13, 2015 – Do you deserve a raise?
SDUT’s Question: Should employers start raising pay for employees again
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. And they apparently are, although very slowly. Generally, employees have had little leverage… Read the Article Here

February 6, 2015 – Tax, spend and no sequester?
SDUT’s Question: Do you agree with President Obama’s proposal to end budget sequestration?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Sequestration has been a sticky wicket for the president and Congress, since it began two years ago as the legacy of the budget battle. Its “slash and burn” approach… Read the Article Here

February 2, 2015 – Should paid sick time be required?
SDUT’s Question: Should all employers be required to provide paid sick leave?
Gary London’s Answer: No. It should be up to the employer to offer paid sick leave as an added attraction for hiring employees or talent. I highly doubt that the majority of the population… Read the Article Here

January 23, 2015 – Are higher capital gains taxes a good thing?
SDUT’s Question: Reacting to President Barack Obama’s tax proposals, do you agree that high-income capital gains taxes are too low and middle-class taxes are too high?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Capital gains are too low. Since the uber-wealthy derive most of their income from capital gains, the rates should be raised. Same goes for the inheritance tax for… Read the Article Here

January 16, 2015 – Can U.S. help Europe out of its econ hole?
SDUT’s Question: Can the U.S. do anything to rev up Europe’s stagnating economy?
Gary London’s Answer: No. We can visit as tourists, or buy their goods and services, but it is all relatively inconsequential. Europe has deep economic issues that… Read the Article Here

January 9, 2015 – Hike taxes for road repairs?
SDUT’s Question: Should the state gas tax be raised to close the $59 billion gap in maintaining the state’s highways and bridges?
Gary London’s Answer: No. I prefer user fees, e.g. tolls, so that the actual beneficiaries of those improvements, in effect, pay for them. If we have to… Read the Article Here

January 2, 2015 – Cybersecurity: A job for the feds?
SDUT’s Question: In light of the Sony hacking episode, should the federal government get actively involved in securing private sector networks and systems?
Gary London’s Answer: Yes. Or at least somebody should, such as an independent regulatory standards board or entity. What happened was horrifying because although it was just… Read the Article Here