What are the forces moving the Minnesota economy? Adam Belz tries to identify the trends and show the connections between Minnesota and the larger U.S. and global economies. You can connect with him on Twitter: @adambelz

Opening Belz, Oct. 21

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: October 21, 2014 - 9:15 AM

Property market a drag on Chinese economy, still grew  7.3% in 1Q – Reuters
Met Council members don’t ride much transit – StarTribune
Small towns in Iowa are dying, power moves to the cities – NY Times
Kay Sexton, influential former VP at B. Dalton Bookseller, dies – Pioneer Press
Feds charge BostonSci engineer with stealing firm’s designs – StarTribune
French oil exec dies in Moscow plane crash – BBC
Kieran’s sues Block E over downtown construction – StarTribune
St. Cloud takes a look at its comprehensive plan – St. Cloud Times
Lake Elmo city council race becoming battle over growth – Pioneer Press
“The act of taking a photograph actually impaired their memory” – Rotarian
“Officer-created jeopardy” cited in cop firing after fatal shooting – Journal-Sentinel
A short documentary about a young Midwestern couple in the 2000s – Aeon

Chart: Minnesota muni bonding on the rise, not so other Midwestern states

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends, Economics Updated: October 20, 2014 - 10:33 AM

I had a straightforward little story in the Sunday paper about how Minnesota communities are starting to issue more municipal bonds. It didn't say much other than that this is the case, and that it's likely a result of economic expansion and communities getting more comfortable with issuing debt.

The national trend for muni bonding is still downward though, as is the trend in much of the Midwest. Here's a chart that shows, through September of each year for each state, how the amount of bonding has moved in the past 10 years:

Opening Belz, Oct. 20

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: October 20, 2014 - 8:49 AM

Making sense of China’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea – Atlantic
Schools scramble to catch up on coding – StarTribune
Russia, Venezuela, Gulf states are hard hit when oil prices fall – Economist
Majority in ND believes oil patch counties deserve more government $$ – Fargo Forum
Developers say Mall of America office tower getting intense interest – StarTribune
Missouri home care workers push for higher wage, silence from governor – Post-Dispatch
Manufacturers scramble to recruit women for factory jobs – Journal-Sentinel
Superior, Michigan, Huron lake levels rising in the fall, which is unusual – Detroit Free Press
In-depth, explanatory look at Ebola and those fighting it – New Yorker
Geothermal energy makes a comeback in California – LA Times
First Avenue folks set to manage Palace Theater, nightclub guy wants it – Pioneer Press
Pizzeria Lola (best pizza in town) plans northeast Mpls location – Biz Journal

Opening Belz, Oct. 17

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: October 17, 2014 - 7:59 AM

Duluth port starts with niche cargo, a “direct flight” to Europe – News Tribune
As in Minnesota, medical pot draws diverse applicants in Illinois – Chicago Tribune
Klobuchar urges inquiry into Canadian Pacific/CSX merger talks – StarTribune
House GOP presses for temporary ban on travel from West Africa – Yahoo
Rent-to-own stores offer middle class lifestyle at unsustainable cost – Washington Post
Bill that would prohibit direct Tesla sales in Michigan hits governor’s desk – Crain’s Detroit
Europe “balks” at austerity, Germany’s gospel of belt-tightening – NY Times
UnitedHealth eyes growth on state insurance exchanges – StarTribune
Colleges try to figure out why students don’t go to football games – StarTribune
The job of junk removal, in a hoarder’s house – Harper’s
Bret Easton Ellis on Millennials, who he calls “Generation Wuss” – Vanity Fair
If you don’t look at the NY Post’s cover every day, you’re missing out – Newseum

Stinson: Don't judge a governor on the economy until the end of the second term

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends, Economics Updated: October 16, 2014 - 5:54 PM

I had my monthly phone call this afternoon with Tom Stinson, the mild-mannered, bipartisan and very quotable former state economist, now working quietly at the University of Minnesota.

The ability (or inability) of a governor to single-handedly change the course of a state's economy has been discussed a bit lately, and I asked Stinson what he thinks. Here's a transcript of part of our conversation:

Stinson: “My perception is that governors really can’t have much impact in their first term. By the end of their second term, that’s when it’s beginning to show up. (chuckling) By that time, nobody’s running again.”

Me: I should do a story about that and quote you on it. You comfortable with that? It’s the second term that the governor’s impact starts to be felt?

Stinson: “It’s the end of the second term. It’s six, eight, ten years later. My thought is: What do you do about job conditions and the workforce? You can’t change the quality of the workforce in two or three or four years, and it takes the changes in the underlying business climate more than four years to show up. Governors and the president get too much credit when the economy’s doing well and too much blame when it’s not doing well.”

Me: It seems to me that in a 7 or 8 year timeline, towards the end of the second term, aren’t there a lot of cases where it’s not even clear by then what the governor’s impact was?

Stinson: “Oh yeah, I think so. Think about somebody’s whose term was coming to a close in 2008, you have the Great Recession starting in 2008 or 2009, you can’t blame the economic downturn on a particular governor, so it just wouldn’t be clear at all. Or if you had some kind of boom and it took off.”

Me: Who were the politicians most responsible for the increase in education spending in Minnesota in the 50s and 60s? (I was referring to the argument that Minnesota's prosperity stems from education investment in the middle of the 20th century.)

Stinson: “I’m not sure as it was politicians. I think it was a combination of public sector and private sector people. The big cigars in downtown Minneapolis were strongly in favor of education spending, spending on K-12. That just seemed to be a widely held belief across the state. We spent a good bit on education.”

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