Columnist: Mike Walden

Jan. 10, 2015 @ 11:20 PM

Building infrastructure – pay me now or pay me later?

My wife recently bought a new car. Well, not exactly “new new,” but “newly used.”  Some experts say this is the best way to purchase vehicles because you get an almost-new car without paying for the excessive depreciation that occurs when a brand-new car is driven off the lot.


Jan. 03, 2015 @ 11:23 PM

What will 2015’s economy look like?

Economists receive much attention at the beginning of a new year. Understandably, people want some insight into how the economy will perform. Of course, no economist can predict every individual’s economic outlook. Instead, what we do is try to forecast the general trends in the economy so that households and businesses can make more informed decisions about their personal situations.


Aug. 10, 2014 @ 08:51 AM

Is inflation ready to take a leap?

Two key concerns in our economy are unemployment and inflation. We want both to be low. When unemployment is low, more people have jobs and earn income. When inflation is low, the dollars we earn don’t lose purchasing power as fast. That is, our dollars buy more with low inflation than with high inflation.


May. 24, 2014 @ 03:18 PM

You Decide: Can gray become green in rural areas?

Retired people are on the move. They’re going to resorts, towns and cities where their children and grandchildren live, or simply to locations with a lower cost of living. And they’re not just visiting -- they’re staying.


May. 10, 2014 @ 05:38 PM

You Decide: Do we live in the most interesting times?

I like looking back. I love to read and talk about history. I initially wanted to become a history teacher before being smitten by economics. While my wife might take a crime novel to the beach, I’ll carry a history book.

One of the cherished memories from my youth is talking to my paternal grandmother about her life. 


Apr. 12, 2014 @ 11:12 AM

More sunny or cloudy days ahead for the economy?

Economists love numbers -- some might call it an occupational hazard. Numbers are our window into the workings of the economy. Without numbers, we’d have a difficult time understanding how the economy is changing, both in positive and negative ways.


Feb. 20, 2014 @ 02:48 PM

Why is state's unemployment still so high?

There’s good news and bad news about the North Carolina job market. The good news is that more jobs have been created in recent years. Since the job market began to turn around in early 2010, both monthly surveys of the labor market in the state show job and employment gains totaling near 250,000.


Jan. 05, 2014 @ 06:19 PM

Up, down, sideways -- what direction will the economy go in 2014?

It’s that time of year again when economists are asked to polish their crystal balls and peek into the economic future.


Oct. 27, 2013 @ 09:16 AM

You Decide: Can growth solve our economic problems?

I recently had a very interesting conversation with a prominent state leader. The person was picking my brain about various economic issues, one of which is our low rate of economic growth. The leader wondered if boosting the growth rate could be one of the keys to solving many of our problems.


Oct. 25, 2013 @ 12:21 PM

You Decide: Can growth solve our economic problems?

I recently had a very interesting conversation with a prominent state leader. The person was picking my brain about various economic issues, one of which is our low rate of economic growth. The leader wondered if boosting the growth rate could be one of the keys to solving many of our problems.


Oct. 07, 2013 @ 12:43 PM

You Decide: How can we help low-wage workers?

My first paying job was with a fast-food restaurant chain in my hometown. I started as the french-fry assistant, standing over a deep fryer cooking a basket of potato strips, emptying the basket when they were cooked, salting them and finally bagging the fries for customers.


Aug. 04, 2013 @ 11:56 AM

You decide: What's the best gauge of North Carolina's economy?

How do we know what's happening to our state's economy? Certainly we can rely on our personal experience, but there's no assurance that what's happening in our own economic life is representative of the entire state.


Jul. 21, 2013 @ 07:01 PM

Is it possible for inflation to be too low?

I was listening to Fed chairman Ben Bernanke the other night speak at a press conference (I know, I need to get a life). Anyway, he said something that struck me as very contrary to the way most people think. He said -- and I am paraphrasing -- that while inflation can certainly be too high, it can also be too low.


Jul. 07, 2013 @ 05:14 PM

You decide: What ails North Carolina's economy?

Information technology has spawned entire new industries, rendered many older industries obsolete and has replaced brawn-power with brain-power as the most significant worker characteristic. What’s more important now is how workers think, solve problems and create new solutions. This means that college-educated workers, particularly in the scientific, technological and management fields, are the hottest commodity for companies.


Jun. 21, 2013 @ 02:01 PM

You decide: Are interest rates headed higher?

In the years right before his death, my father became very interested in investments. Maybe it was because he wanted his financial affairs in good order before he passed. Or maybe he became caught up in all the discussions about investing during the Great Recession. But for whatever reason, he continually peppered me with questions about where he should put his money and what was going to happen to different kinds of investments.