economics

How to Win in a Winner-Take-All World

Every ambitious professional is trying to navigate a perilous global economy to do work that is lucrative and satisfying, but some find success while others struggle to get by. In an era of remarkable economic change, how should you navigate your career to increase your chances of landing not only on your feet, but ahead of those around you?

In How to Win in a Winner-Take-All World, Neil Irwin, senior economic correspondent at the New York Times, delivers the essential guide to being successful in today’s economy when the very notion of the “job” is shifting and the corporate landscape has become dominated by global firms. 

Irwin shows that the route to success lies in cultivating the ability to bring multiple specialties together, to become a “glue person” who can ensure people with radically different technical skills work together effectively, and how a winding career path makes you better prepared for today's fast-changing world. 

Using insights from global giants like Microsoft, Walmart, and Goldman Sachs, and from smaller lesser known organizations, How to Win in a Winner-Take-All World illuminates what it really takes to be on top in this world of technological complexity and global competition.

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Fiscal Therapy

Keeping the economy strong will require addressing two distinct but related problems. Steadily rising federal debt makes it harder to grow our economy, boost our living standards, respond to wars or recessions, address social needs, and maintain our role as a global leader. At the same time, we have let critical investments lag and left many people behind even as overall prosperity has grown. 

Our latest guest, William Gale, is a leading authority on how federal tax and budget policy affects the economy, and in his latest book, Fiscal Therapy: Curing America's Debt Addiction and Investing in the Future, Gale provides a direct discussion of the challenges posed by the imbalances between spending and revenue. 

America is facing a gradual decline as debt accumulates and delay raises the costs of action. But there is hope: fiscal responsibility aligns with both conservative and liberal goals and citizens of all stripes can support the notion of making life better for our children and grandchildren.

We face significant fiscal challenges but, if we are wise enough to seize our opportunities, perhaps we can strengthen our economy, increase opportunity, reduce inequality, and build better lives for our children and grandchildren. We do not have to kill popular programs or starve government. 

As the book discusses, one main goal of fiscal reform is to maintain the vital functions that government provides. To act responsibly, pay for the government we want, and shape that government in ways that serve us best.

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"Jill on Money" theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.

Solid Jobs Report Justifies Powell’s Case

Solid Jobs Report Justifies Powell’s Case

The government reported that the economy added a better than expected 263,000 jobs in April. It was the 103rd straight month of job growth, the longest streak on record. Nearly ten years into the expansion, job creation is 205,000 for the first four months of 2019, just above the monthly amount added since the labor market bottomed out in 2010.

Inversions V2.0

Inversions V2.0

Three different producers contacted me about the following headline, which appeared last week in the Wall Street Journal: “Inverted Yield Curve Is Telling Investors What They Already Know.” You may be forgiven for that case of déjà vu, because we last discussed the inverted yield curve in December. Here’s a refresher from my post on the topic:

How America Works

The February jobs report was a mixed bag. Let’s get the bad news out of the way: the economy added only 20,000 positions, the smallest gain since September 2017. The number was much lower than last year’s average monthly amount of 223,000 and far below expectations for 190,000. 

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What explains the drop? There is no single answer, but here to help us break it down is Chip Cutter, a reporter at the Wall Street Journal who recently worked on a story called, How America Works: Inside the Hottest Job Market in Half a Century

Some possible culprits include a statistical anomaly, exaggerated by seasonal oddities that are unlikely to persist; spooked employers, who sat on their hands as growth slowed in the beginning of the year amid the government shutdown; bad weather, which hurt construction and maybe just a weird one-off, much in the same way that the huge January number may have also been an outlier. In fact, if we take the first two months of the year, job creation averaged about 165,000, an amount that would be consistent with a slowing economy in Q1.

However, there was also good news. Average hourly earnings increased by 3.4 percent from a year ago, the best annual gain in almost a decade (April 2009). Additionally, the headline unemployment rate returned to 3.8 percent, which is where it was before the government shutdown. 

Finally, the broad measure of unemployment (aka “U-6”, which includes unemployed; discouraged and marginally attached workers; and those who are working part-time, but seek full time) declined to 7.3 percent from 8.1 percent, its lowest point since December 2000. These numbers seem to indicate that the labor market may be slowing this year, but it is still relatively tight and healthy.

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Powell's Two Words Move Markets

Powell's Two Words Move Markets

Two words from Fed Chair Jerome Powell moved markets last week: “JUST BELOW.” He was talking about short-term interest rates, which are just below neutral, a Goldilocks level that is designed to neither speed up-nor slow down-economic growth. Powell’s assessment was a change from a comment he made in early October, when he said rates were a “long way” from neutral. 

State of the Economy with Diane Swonk

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You guys know I’m a sucker for chatting with a rockstar economist, especially when it’s a woman! We did it earlier this year with Linda Yueh, and this week we’re doing it again with Diane Swonk.

Diane is one of the most respected macroeconomists, who maintains a unique perspective on the inner workings of Main Street as well as Wall Street. She is an expert on the economics of the labor market, monetary policy and structural changes that are distinct from economic cycles.

All of this came in handy as we chatted about global and domestic economic conditions, touching on a variety of topics such as:

  • Will there be more interest rate hikes?

  • Are we on the verge of another recession?

  • What is the biggest threat facing the global economy?

With a network that includes economists, industry leaders and geopolitical experts, Diane advises policy makers at all levels of government, including central bankers.

For her outstanding contributions in the field of economics, Diane has been named a Fellow of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE). She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, serves on the Sitting Committee to the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago and advises the economics department at the University of Michigan.

She has testified before Congress to improve the quality of economic data and on the causes and consequences of income inequalities.

If you’re a Twitter user, Diane is definitely one to follow.“Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

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