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Why economists fail to accurately forecast recessions

Why didn’t all economists know The Great Recession was about to hit, and why are alarm bells so difficult to accurately sound?

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Expectations on economists

Economists are expected to sound the alarm when we’re headed into a recession. They have extensive backgrounds in economic theories and analyzing trends, and therefore are entrusted with the job of keeping a watchful eye and monitor economic performance. But there’s another trend emerging: economists don’t appear to be too successful at forecasting recessions. In fact, their estimates are often way off, and as a nation, we’re well into a recession before we even know what hit us.

Why do economists have such a hard time with their forecasts? Part of the reason is that the markets are always changing, as they are directly affected by human interaction. If a story breaks that a company’s CEO has been let go, it can cause shareholders to sell their stocks, affecting the business and starting a domino effect as the decision ripples through the various ecosystems connected to the business. This wave of change can happen due to human anxiety or fear just as easily as it can due to happiness; however, these decision and resulting emotions can’t be forecast with a statistical model.

Additional variables taken into account

Along that same note, there are numerous variables that have to be accounted for in order to determine a recession is near. Economists often discover trends when they’ve been forming for a while and have had a chance to collect data. While they are ever vigilant, economists don’t necessarily have software that analyzes all of these variables across the globe in real-time. Instead, most economists are split into groups of macro and micro, and often narrow their focus area to specific industries. And even though macroeconomists are looking at the economy as a whole, it is still hard to drill down into all of these various systems 24/7 and determine that we’re headed for a recession.

A graphic recently released by The Big Picture shows just how off economists projects actually are. This under and over-forecasting could have to do with catering to extremes. And it may speak to a flawed calculation model. But with all of the moving parts that comprise our economy, at this point, no one entity can accurately forecast a recession; it will take the efforts of many to spot the trend.

Destiny Bennett is a journalist who has earned double communications' degrees in Journalism and Public Relations, as well as a certification in Business from The University of Texas at Austin. She has written stories for AustinWoman Magazine as well as various University of Texas publications and enjoys the art of telling a story. Her interests include finance, technology, social media...and watching HGTV religiously.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. jan de graaf

    November 23, 2012 at 7:15 am

    I agree with you. A good example is the forecast they made for Greece in Europe. The IMF expected every year a growth but they are wrong. You can see the graphic here: https://www.geenstijl.nl/archives/images/maarwatishetknoflooktechnisch.jpg.jpg

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Economic News

How small businesses can keep up with the changing workforce

(ECONOMIC) Trade schools are booming as career outlook grows. College enrollment is down. The workforce is changing. How can small business keep up?

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Trade employees in the workforce

College enrollment has dropped off by three million in the last decade, with a drop-off of one million due in the last several years as a direct side effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. This phenomenon clearly does not bode well for the future of the United States’ economy and workforce, with students who attend low-income schools and come from low-income families being the most affected. These changes are disproportionately affecting students from low-income schools and families, the very people who need higher education the most, and are erasing much of the work done in the last decade to help close the income and race gap between students, colleges, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Enrollment in trade schools is skyrocketing.

Recently, trade schools have seen a 40% bump in enrollment across the board. Many students are enticed by the fact that trade schools are affordable and offer a quick turnaround, with students paying $16,000 or less for their program, and their training taking a year or less to complete. Beyond that, those who complete trade school is all but guaranteed a job on graduation day. Their earning potential is often two or even three times higher than the initial cost of attending the program. As many have found, the same cannot always be said about those who pursue a college education.

While the average cost of college at an in-state and public institution hovers at around $28,775 per year (according to Forbes) and takes an average of four years to complete means that trade students have a cheaper educational cost, (between $16,000 to $33,000 for the entire program, or about equal to just one year of a public college tuition) can get work in their field more quickly, and can usually make more than their educational costs in their first year on the job. Tradespeople make an average of $54,000 fresh out of trade school, which rivals the role average college student’s first salary of $55,000. It’s no wonder so many people are choosing to forgo a formal education for trade school!

The almost insurmountable cost of college combined with ever-growing inflation and a lengthy list of requirements just to get a post-college job, all for a low salary and with students having hefty loans to pay back, also play a key role in the downturn in the popularity of college.

The implication of fewer college-educated people, however, means that over time, the United States as a whole could face an economic downturn, as it gives rise to many more blue-collar workers. This can irrevocably alter the makeup of the workforce. Despite current unemployment rates being among the lowest they’ve ever been, the American people are already starting to see a shift in the labor market.

Already, we see a strain in the labor market when 25% of skilled workers in the U.S. exited the workforce following the Covid-19 pandemic. The economy has become so highly specialized that if the U.S. were to keep up the trend of losing college-educated workers, there could irreversible damage to the United States’ economy, deepening the ever-growing divide between the middle class and the working class, further reducing the ability to affect the global economy, knocking the United States out of the classification of a “global superpower.” To make matters worse, much of the United States labor pool is outsourced, and we are seeing the rise of artificial intelligence and robotics taking over many jobs, especially minimum wage jobs. While none of these factors alone vastly affect the U.S. labor market, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

So what can employers do when the makeup of the workforce starts to shift?

Employers could shift the focus on the years of experience rather than the type of education the potential employees have, as well as offering more extensive on-the-job training, which is already commonplace in some industries. Even for those with a college education, the requirements for entry-level jobs seldom match the salary, with many employers requiring a four-year degree, two or more years of experience, and fluency in different programs which vary from company to company. Employers, if possible, need to offer higher salaries with fewer requirements, as many young people are finding the pursuit of college, plus the various other requirements just to be considered for a barely above minimum wage job, while they’re drowning in student debt fruitless, so they forgo college altogether.

A post-pandemic society looks vastly different, and employers must adapt to keep up.

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Economic News

Boomers retirement may be the true reason behind the labor shortage

(ECONOMY) Millennials and Gen Z were quick to be blamed for the labor shortage, citing lazy work ethic- the cause could actually be Boomers retirement.

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Older man pictured in cafe with laptop nearby representing boomers retirement discrimination.

In July, we reported on the Great Resignation. With record numbers of resignations, there’s a huge labor shortage in the United States. Although there were many speculations about the reasons why, from “lazy” millennials to the number of deaths from Covid. Just recently, CNN reported that in November another 3.6 million Americans left the labor force. It’s been suggested that the younger generations don’t want to work but retiring Boomers might be the bigger culprit.

Why Boomers are leaving the labor force

CNN Business reports that 90% of the Americans who left the workplace were over 55 years old. It’s now being suggested that many of the people who have left the labor force since the beginning of the pandemic were older Americans, not Millennials or Gen Z, as we originally thought. Here are the reasons why:

  • Boomers are more concerned about catching COVID-19 than their younger counterparts, so they aren’t returning to work. Boomers are less willing to risk their health.
  • The robust real estate market has benefitted Boomers, who have more equity in their homes. Boomers have more options on the table than just returning to work.
  • Employers aren’t creating or posting jobs that lure people out of retirement or those near retirement age.

As Boomers retire, how does this impact the overall labor economy?

According to CNN Business, there are signs that the labor shortage is abating. Employers are starting to see record number of applicants to most posted jobs. FedEx, for example, just got 111,000 applications in one week, the highest it has ever recorded. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the pandemic-induced increase in retirement is only temporary. People who retired due to the risk of the pandemic will return to work as new strategies emerge to reduce the risk to their health. With new varients popping up, we will have to keep an eye on how the trend ultimately plays out.

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Economic News

Is the real estate industry endorsing Carson’s nomination to HUD?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ben Carson’s initial appointment to HUD was controversial given his lack of experience in housing, but what is the pulse now?

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NAR strongly backs Dr. Carson’s nomination

When President-Elect Donald Trump put forth Dr. Ben Carson’s name as the nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, NAR President William E. Brown said, “While we’ve made great strides in recent years, far more can be done to put the dream of homeownership in reach for more Americans.”

At the time of nomination, the National Association of Realtors (the largest trade organization in the nation) offered a positive tone regarding Dr. Carson and said the industry looks forward to working with him. But does that hold true today?

The confirmation hearings yesterday were far less controversial than one would expect, especially in light of how many initially reacted to his nomination. Given his lack of experience in housing, questions seemed to often center around protecting the LGBT community and veterans, both of which he pledged to support.

In fact, Dr. Carson said the Fair Housing Act is “one of the best pieces of legislation we’ve ever had in this country,” promising to issue a “world-class plan” for housing upon his confirmation…

>>>>>Click to continue reading…<<<<<

#CarsonHUD

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