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Articles by Patrick Barkey

ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Taking the ultimate step in K-12 accountability

Everyone in business today knows that customers have choices, and that making and keeping customers happy with your product has always been a big part of the game. These days dissatisfied customers have many more options than simply walking away-they can go online and blast your product in cyberspace, attacking the image and reputation you may have spent a lifetime trying to build. That's the daunting prospect American businesses face every day. Yet as difficult as that sounds, here's one...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Scoring political points can cost state in long run

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about economic cycles-the boombust patterns of everything from housing to commodity prices-is that they keep economists and forecasters gainfully employed. John D. Rockefeller tried to eliminate them by controlling production and distribution. Franklin Roosevelt tried to cut them short by using the federal government checkbook. And Alan Greenspan, and now Ben Bernanke, keep trying to talk and cajole financial markets in the direction they think they should go. It hasn't worked. Or,...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Wireless world making research more difficult

If you're thinking of getting a job as a researcher, you should know it is a lonely life we lead. The world outside our offices sees issues in black and white that appear to us as infinite shades of gray. And when we occasionally emerge from our cubicles to deliver our results to the public, we are told either that we have a stranglehold on the obvious or that we have no concept of the real world. But the world...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Employers hope to save by promoting healthy living

"Mandates are a form of love," a state legislator once said, explaining a vote that added requirements to privately funded health insurance programs statewide. And our governments evidently love all of us-businesses, individuals, and even other governments-very much. Our legislatures tell us the lowest wage we can pay our workers, the questions we can and cannot ask during job interviews, and how many gallons of water we use to flush our toilets. To the admittedly narrow-minded thinking of an economist,...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Signs of economic trouble are beginning to surface

There is a character in an old Hunter S. Thompson novel who shows up in every scene sweating profusely. Halfway through the book, he finally explains it-sweating is normal. It's when he stops sweating that the alarm bells should sound. It's a little like that with bankers. Except it's not literally sweat, but worry. Bankers are always worried-about loan quality, interestrate spreads, renewed inflation, you name it. After all, the banking business is really business in general. How we collectively...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Does growth in health care drive our state's economy?

Indiana households, businesses and governments spent more than $33 billion on health care products and services in 2004. We don't have current data yet, but you can be sure the amount is higher today. That's because growth in health care expenditures in the state has averaged a whopping 8.6 percent per year since 1980. In 2004, spending on hospital care, physician services, prescription drugs, nursing homes, and every other kind of health care product or service gobbled up 14.4 percent...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: State's growth in incomes is still lagging the nation's

It was 1980 when then-presidential candidate Ronald Reagan asked audiences whether they were better off than four years earlier. It was smart politics-1980 was a recession year. But politics aside, it's always a relevant question. For if the economy is not growing the pie that we all share, then those who manage it, not to mention those in political leadership roles, have cause for concern. But how do we answer such a question? With the due date for tax filings...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: The Great Society meets fiscal reality

Someone wise in matters of politics once said programs for the poor are poor programs. It remains true today-initiatives aimed at helping the most vulnerable in our society, be they privately or publicly funded, seem to be perpetually starved for funds. And so the genius of those who created the Social Security system-originally aimed at older Americans whose assets were devastated by the Great Depression in 1935-was to make the program available to all, regardless of income. In a few...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Jobs news is negative however you slice it

What's the news on Indiana employment? Odd as it might seem, that phrase is almost a contradiction in terms. For while we do receive very timely, detailed information on how many jobs are carried on Indiana employers' payrolls each month, the practical challenges in keeping close tabs on the latest zigs and zags in the 3 million-strong Hoosier labor force make the interpretation of the fresh data difficult. Only after the data have sat on the shelf for half a...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Why economists don't get invited to parties

To borrow a phrase from religion, there are among us a number of people who can be called "supermarket economists." These are individuals who pick and choose the portions of economic doctrine they like, and ignore the conclusions of economics that do not suit their purposes. In public discourse, supermarket economists so greatly outnumber genuine economists that when one first encounters the real animal-usually in a college classroom-the reaction can be a mixture of shock and disappointment. Maybe that's why...
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