Author: Ed Lotterman

Economic estimates usually imprecise at best

No, the Green Line light rail project did not result in $4.2 billion in economic growth for the Twin Cities. That someone at the Metropolitan Council recently suggested this shows how hard it is to measure and attribute economic results…






Economists skeptical about $15 minimum

There is remarkable agreement among economists on two effects of a minimum wage: (1) As long as it stays within the inflation-adjusted range it has been in for most of the last 75 years, it has little negative effect on…






For-profit college Latin lesson — caveat emptor

Twelve state attorneys general, including Minnesota’s Lori Swanson, have asked the federal government to revoke the accreditation authority of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, the largest body that certifies the academic credentials of for-profit post-secondary schools. And…






Breaking up is hard to do — for banks

Neel Kashkari, the new president of the local Federal Reserve bank, shows great energy in his campaign to break up big banks and other financial institutions designated as “too big to fail.” The most recent move was a star-studded conference…






Tractor rollbars may illustrate tempest in a teapot

Sometimes the mundane cases best exemplify economic ideas. That is true of a bill introduced in the Minnesota Legislature this session to appropriate $250,000 to reduce farm deaths in tractor rollovers. This may or may not be a good idea,…






Tide is flowing against multilateralism

There are tides in the affairs of the globe as well as those of nations and of individuals. Right now the tide of international cooperation and of multilateral institutions is ebbing. Preference for national autonomy is flowing. For some, these…






Size matters in producing, consuming markets

Size matters, at least in many economic sectors, if not in the personal attributes of GOP presidential candidates. Candidate debate comparisons aside, there were three examples of this in the news last week: The effect of rising oil prices on…






Will global prices undermine PolyMet?

Copper-nickel mining in northeastern Minnesota remains in the news as PolyMet’s environmental impact statement was deemed adequate by the state last week, putting the project one step further on a long path, with many needed permits yet ahead. But Twin…






Fiscal process often misunderstood

U.S presidents do not have the authority to spend money from the federal Treasury. That is primarily a congressional function. Keep that in mind as presidential candidates from any party tout what they will do if elected. History shows us…






Separating economic myth from history

International economic relations seem in disarray right now, and there is no consensus on how they might be improved. In such a situation, history often beats economic theory as a source of insights. Philosopher George Santayana’s 1905 assertion that “those…