Michael T. Owyang is an economist and assistant vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. His research focuses on business cycles and time series econometrics. He joined the St. Louis Fed in 2000. Read more about the author and his research.
Fed forecasts have generally been more accurate than private forecasts, but the reason isn’t clear.
Residual seasonality in gross domestic product can make it difficult for policymakers to know whether weak first-quarter GDP growth is due to an actual downturn or a reported number that is understated.
Find out why accurate reporting by China on its economy is important and how doubting outsiders are stepping in with their own measurements.
Before there is discussion on what can and should be done about income inequality, interested parties should understand the different methods that can be used to measure the gap. Knowing when the gap has been particularly wide or narrow over the past 50 or so years would also be helpful.
Some countries’ business cycles are in sync with the world’s, while other countries’ cycles follow the ups and downs just of their neighbors’. This regional connection is even more prevalent if a region is defined not by geography but by common cultures and institutions.
Given that Americans still spend a considerable portion of their budget on gasoline (just under 4 percent in 2012), it’s important to understand why gas prices don’t always move in sync with oil prices. The latter are determined in a more-or-less centralized market, but the market for gas is often local, with prices affected by location, season and taxes, among other factors.
Fifty years ago, Arthur Okun examined the relationship between output growth and the unemployment rate. The empirical relationship of the resulting “Okun’s law” has remained largely intact since then, including during the Great Recession. However, while the law does fit our intuition about economic relationships, it should not necessarily be taken to be causal.
In measuring the returns to education, economists usually focus on the number of years of schooling. But many people would say that the quality of schooling matters, too, even at the high school level. Does the type of high school attended make a difference in future income?
Studies found the obesity wage gap holds for women not men. Should the body mass index (BMI) be used to indicate if someone is overweight?
Oil can be derived from oil sands and oil shale, but the job is both economically and environmentally costly. How high must the price of oil be in order to make these alternatives cost-effective?
Satisfying a need to get out in the field, some economists are studying sports. Their topics have included racism in the NBA, coaches’ maximization of their chances of winning, and the direction that soccer players and goalies should move during penalty kicks.
According to the 2004 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), the percentage of families holding debt rose from 72.3 percent in 1989 to 76.4 percent in 2004. Among families holding debt, the median value of the debt more than doubled during that time from $22,000 to $55,300 (in 2004 dollars). These numbers reflect both a rise in collateralized debt (e.g., mortgages) and uncollateralized debt (e.g., credit cards).
Not only are more American families in debt, but the median value of the debt more than doubled between 1989 and 2004. Credit cards and payday loans are two of the favorite tools for digging the hole deeper.
New studies have looked at the impact of easier divorce on everything from women working outside the home to children’s education to spousal violence.
Although Americans appear to be spending less time on the job than they were a hundred years ago, there's some question as to whether they have more leisure time.
The ranks of women in the workfoce jumped by more than 24 percentage points between 1955 and 1999. Credit labor-saving devices at home (such as the dishwasher), the birth-control pill and the preference by some men to marry a woman who works outside the home.
One study shows that Kenya and Hakim might have more trouble getting their résumés noticed than Allison and Brad do. But another study indicates that distinctively African-American names don’t lead to worse economic outcomes in adulthood.
If you think that your career advancement is based solely on your productivity, think again. As hard as it may be for Horatio Alger fans to accept, workers who are taller, thinner or better looking than the rest of us can have an edge.
Having the same job for one's entire career has become much less common over the past quarter-century. Many people switch jobs voluntarily; others, not. Behind this trend are changes in demographics, changes in technology and changes in such institutions as unions and international trade.
Becoming a wife. Becoming a mother. Read how these critical life decisions affect the salary women take home.
The target set by the FOMC for the federal funds rate applies to the entire country. But that single policy has a different impact on different parts of the country, depending on their concentration of interest-sensitive industries.
Defined benefit pensions fall while defined contribution plans jump.
Whether it's because of employer bias or their own hard work, men who've married are paid more than those who've never said "I do."
Technology usually gets the credit for the unusually low unemployment of the not-too-distant past. But baby boomers, with all their years' experience, also played a role.