Blogging with RFC
Please enjoy and comment on our blogs.
We continue looking at our juvenile population starting with Wyoming’s child wellness as reported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, (AECF), a private non-profit foundation dedicated to juvenile and family issues, and its subsidiary, Kids Count, which publishes an annual report ranking states according to measured child wellness indicators.
In previous parts of this series we’ve examined Wyoming’s overall rating (19th in the nation, worsening from 15th in 2013.) Additionally we have highlighted the troubling issue of Wyoming’s dropouts and deaths. Another factor that is widely believed linked to decreased juvenile achievement and increased antisocial behavior is juvenile drinking and drug abuse.
Next month the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) will present yet another quarterly report on the state government's finances. It is not exactly a wild guess that the report will reinforce the gloomy lookout for the state budget. Little if anything has changed for the better since the January report.
More than likely, the next CREG report will reinforce the prediction of a deficit in the state budget that will not go away in the foreseeable future. Even though CREG has not spelled it out yet, their data clearly indicate that Wyoming has a deeper state budget problem than what can be managed with short-term policy fixes.
As I explained last week, one of the effects of the comparatively strong U.S. economy is that the dollar grows stronger vs. other major currencies. The appreciation of the dollar has been particularly noticeable vs. the euro: in May last year a euro cost almost $1.39; last week the exchange rate was down to $1.06 per euro.
A stronger dollar has two effects on the U.S. economy. The first is related to inflation: while our imports are small as a share of GDP compared to other major industrialized countries, there is nevertheless a direct tie to household cost of living. Much of our daily consumer goods are imported, and not just from China. Increasingly, major retailers like Wal-Mart are buying from South Asian and African countries. A stronger dollar will reinforce this trend, with the effect of continued downward pressure on consumer goods prices: in addition to the lower production costs the strong dollar allows foreign manufacturers to sell at low prices in the United States and still rake in good profits.
In this part of the Wyoming Wellness series we look a bit more closely at a few of the specific wellness indicators related to child and teen deaths and teens who are not in school and not employed. Our starting point for following these wellness metrics is the 2014 Child Wellnessreport published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count initiative.
The big news in the global economy right now is that the U.S. dollar and the euro are very close to parity, in other words one dollar for one euro. Since its launch a decade and a half ago the euro has been the higher valued of the two currencies, with an exchange rate in the $1.20-$1.30 bracket for most of the time.
This global currency event is not only important for investors and businesses in general, but it will have an impact on the Wyoming economy as well. Our natural resources industry is exports-oriented; the combination of plunging oil prices, a business-cycle downturn in China and the persistent stagnation in Europe has already put our biggest industry under pressure. The heydays of 2003-2008 are long gone. A stronger dollar adds another bitter pill to the menu.