Thursday, May 28, 2015

Good news for labor economists: LA raises minimum wage to $15!

The LA city council recently decided to raise the minimum wage to $15, joining San Francisco and Seattle in the battle to help the working poor.  I was resisting further commentary on the minimum wage until I saw todays Robert Samuelson column in WP.

Each side on the minimum wage debate cherry picks the economics research to support their politics. Samuelson provides a good summary of mainstream findings: there is some job displacement but it has been modest.  However, this is based on historical evidence for the nation as a whole or for entire states.  What is unique about these cases is that (1) the increases are quite large (67%) compared to historical changes (10 to 15%) and (2) there is much more room for employers to move jobs across city boundaries as compared to state or national boundaries.   Samuelson speculates that restaurant employment will not be affected as much as hotels and manufacturing.  (Who wants to drive 10 miles in LA traffic to save 50 cents on a cheeseburger?)

One guaranteed winner from all this: labor economists who will have a lab experiment for evaluating the impact of the $15 minimum wage.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Would we better off without PowerPoint slides?

WP headline: "PowerPoint should be banned."  Click through to see slides from actual presentations that should never have seen the light of day.  Slides are useful tools for summarizing information, but not so useful for audience engagement (but maybe that's the point).  Amazon and LinkedIn have banned slide presentations. Is this the beginning of a trend?  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Has the financial sector fully recovered from the Great Recession?

So says NYT financial columnist Neil Irwin.  The evidence:

  • Employment has returned to 2007 levels
  • The pay gap between financial services and the rest of the economy has recovered; it is now a 3.6:1 ratio!
  • Entry level pay for Ivy League grads at investment banks went from $70k to $85k this spring
  • Vacancy rates at prime Wall St real estate are down to 5%
This is obviously good news for those with aspirations of working in this sector.  But is it good news or bad news for the economy?  The article cites research by economists at the Brandeis, Chicago and NYU b-schools which suggests that the size of the financial services sector does not appear correlated with economic performance.  Financial markets are supposed to reallocate capital to firms with profit-making opportunity from those that are tapped-out.  In theory this should lead to increased productivity, but in practice the data show that a large financial sector leads to weaker productivity growth.  

One fear is that the recent rebound in employment is associated with regulatory compliance in an industry that now bears a more than striking resemblance to a public utility, thanks to Dodd-Frank.  If so, then the allocation of more resources to financial services should be lamented, not cheered.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

John Nash has passed away

Nobel laureate John Nash passed away yesterday in an auto accident on the New Jersey Turnpike.  Veterans of MBA 505 will all certainly recall the Nash equilibrium concept in game theory.  Others will remember the movie "A Beautiful Mind," where Nash was played by Russell Crowe.  See the NYT obit for a solid recap of Nash's contributions to economics and mathematics.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Another top 20 ranking for NC State Jenkins MBA

Princeton Review today released its first ranking of the top 25 online MBA programs.  The NC State Jenkins MBA came in at #20.  This is the third top 20 ranking the program has received in the last year and a half, joining a #9 online MBA ranking from US News this year and a #20 ranking of the Professional MBA from Bloomberg Businessweek in November 2013.

Princeton Review's rankings are based on surveys of students and school administrators.  UNC-Chapel Hill was rated the #1 online MBA, followed by Indiana, IE (Spain), Arizona State and Temple.

Click here to see what NC State Jenkins Online MBA students have to say about academics and here to see what they say about how the program has helped their careers.