July 16, 2008

Next Stop: the '70s

Justin Katz

The depressing thing is that the "bright spot" of this finding is that Professor Lardaro's index doesn't go back far enough to have captured pre-Reagan economic periods:

Economically speaking, Rhode Island is in the midst of the "worst year" in a quarter century, according to a local index released today.

After a brief uptick in April, the Current Conditions Index in May plunged back to its lowest value in the index's 25-year history.

Eleven out of 12 indicators deteriorated, as the unemployment rate spiked to 7.2 percent and consumers hit by rising food and fuel prices cut back on spending, causing retail sales to plunge, according to the index's manager, University of Rhode Island professor of economics, Leonard Lardaro.

Perhaps more depressing is that some of us believe Rhode Island could quickly rise at least to a sea-level float if it were to discard some of its all-too-familiar baggage.

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As Rhode Island circles ever-faster down the proverbial toilet bowl, perhaps we can capture that centrifugal energy as an "alternative energy source." ;-)

Posted by: Tom W at July 16, 2008 1:10 PM


I wonder how RI could shed state baggage prices like the following:

$4.45/gal regular gasoline self serve
$4.90/gal diesel fuel self serve
$4.749/gal oil for heat/hot water
National Grid 21.7% increase in electric rates
National Grid 10% increase in natural gas rates

Posted by: Ken at July 16, 2008 5:47 PM

RI Gov't (and it's taxpayers) don't have any direct control over gas & energy prices.

What they do have direct control over is the Unsustainable # of Public Sector employees and their attendant unsustainable pay & benefits, causing RI to be within the Top 5 highest taxed states in the nation with a Public Employee Pension System that has the second largest shorfall / deficit in the nation. (Oh that's right, Bob Walsh, using the famous, yet ludicrous, "Walshian Assumptions" told us the Pension system is sustainable and it will be back on track in 22 "short" years ...and Andrew "confirmed" that for him).

Of those making up the 7.2% unemployment, how many are Public Employees that were laid off??

Posted by: George Elbow at July 16, 2008 9:42 PM

George Elbow,

You failed to recognize over 1,000 state employees have retired, layed off or left per a press release from the Governor touting his accomplishment in reducing state employment by 1,000 employees making RI the #1 New England state with least amount of state FTE workers (maybe that is why it took so long for Bobby Oliveira to be served).

What is beginning to become unsustainable is basic tax supported government services because the state of RI technology infrastructure has not been substantially upgraded and a good number of those who have left state service have taken the knowledgebase with them.

Also, you continue to mix oranges and apples together like a 2 year old. Let me help you understand, there are state of RI workers and local city/town workers. NEA is a union that represents some but not all school teachers in state of RI that work for the local cities and towns.

RI taxes will rise because people like me are leaving the state and as we leave there are less sales tax, income tax and property taxes being paid to state and cities/towns. Also as the subprime foreclosure mess increases in RI, property tax income is diminishing as each city/town reevaluates their properties.

Less state, gambling and city/town income means less services and layoffs which also mean less federal matching funds, poor school, fire, police, EMT service and performance or higher taxes. Lets make sure RI gets rid of all the blood sucking union members but don’t you dare have a heart attack, need your children schooled, ask for help because you were robbed or try to get needed document from the state because service might be outsourced to another state and you’ll have to wait in line.

People on Smith Hill have been sitting on their thumbs for the last 6 years and even passed a budget this year knowing there will be $100 million or more short fall before en of year.

RI is in a recession which will get worst for the next 2 years and it has nothing to do with government employees and their benefits.

Listening to your rants really solidifies my reasons for moving out of the State of RI.

End of my conversations with you.

Posted by: Ken at July 16, 2008 11:43 PM


You wrote, "RI is in a recession which will get worst for the next 2 years and it has nothing to do with government employees and their benefits." Could you please elaborate on the logic behind this conclusion?

Thank you.

Posted by: John at July 17, 2008 12:31 AM


The public employees that RETIRED don't count as unemployed, as they CHOSE to retire. Primarily because they couldn't bear the thought of the gravy train coming to an end.

Every Public School Teacher in RI falls directly, or indirectly, under the umbrella that is the NEA. Wake up!

How about we let RI be a "Right to Work" state and get rid of the nutty collective "bargaining" laws that are artificially inflating Union hack wages and benefits?

In the real world, devoid of the Public Employee Union insanity that you so adore, wages would adjust to reflect the reduced ability to pay due to all the things you noted (including Retirees on lucrative RI Public Pensions leaving the state and not paying RI taxes).

It's real simple Ken, even for a simpleton like yourself: Let the Free Market determine the worth of all those "blood sucking union members".

Let the Free Market determine the worth of leeches like Providence Fire Dept. Union Pwesident Lazy-Ass Pauly "No Show" Doughty and Bob Walsh's flock of "Do it for the children" Union hack teachers.

Do that and we'll be fine.

Posted by: George Elbow at July 17, 2008 9:56 PM


Providence Business news January 9, 2008; “Leonard Lardaro’s 7:30 seminar at the Providence Marriott was entitled “Economic Forecast 2008: Will Rhode Island avoid a recession?” In fact, the URI professor told the gathering of SBANE members and others, the Ocean State recession may have arrived already.”

According to Providence Journal April 28, 2008, “Rhode Island is one of just nine states in recession -- the next closest is Ohio -- while Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut have growing economies, according to Steve Cochrane, senior managing director for Economy.com, which is owned by Moody’s Investors Service.”

The Boston Globe April 29, 2008 “Economists tell state officials Rhode Island is in recession: Providence, R.I. –Rhode Island’s high rates of unemployment and foreclosures as well as its slow personal income growth have made it the only New England state in recession, economists told state budget staffers.”

According to PROJO May 31, 2008, “Rhode Island is the only New England state among 11 states nationwide that are in recession, according to Moody's Economy.com, an economic forecasting company.”

The above was not something that happened over night. The fact of the matter, all indications were there and the powers on Smith Hill did nothing to help alleviate or soften the blow to RI population. They in fact played down the subprime, rising inflation and amount of people leaving the state. Where were RI Economic Development Corporation and RI Department of Labor and Training? These are the two main state agencies that suppose to work together creating jobs and keeping companies in the state or moving to the state.

The consumer prices rose 1.1% in June as weekly wages fell 0.9 percent Consumer prices are up 5% over the last 12 months, the fastest one-year change since 1991

RI heating oil is now at $4.749/gal which means a standard 250 gal will cost $1,187.25 to fill. National Grid increased electric rates 21.7% which will add about $25/mo to average customer bill and National Grid also raised natural gas rates 10%. Because New England is at the end of the supply chain, gasoline and diesel fuel prices are relatively high (above $4/gal) also. RI has no real public transit system and in fact is cutting back service.

The subprime loans have not tanked yet. All indications of tanking will be 3rd quarter 2009 with some recovery starting in 2010. The credit card defaults will continue to be a risk with continued bankruptcies adding to the subprime foreclosures blending into conventional mortgages. In any event, market values of housing will continue to decline causing local cities/towns property reevaluations to decline. RI residents will be paying mortgages of higher value than their house evaluated worth.

With the exodus of residents moving out of state, RI is projected to loose a representative sea around 2010.

In one of the most stupid acts of trying to balance the state budget, the Governor recommended killing totally and the GA partially saved the Commercial Historic tax credits that state and independent audits showed for every $1 in tax credit the state of RI received over $5 return, At a time when RI needed employment and expanded business causing increased sales, income and property tax receipts, Smith Hill put a moratorium in place.

Rhode Island also has created a negative image of the state over the last 6 years in the news and Internet media. I would not move to live or move my company to a state where the governor proclaims he is laying off 1,000 state workers to balance a budget deficit or school children left on school buses till 9 PM or a New England state that is grid locked by 6” of snow or must close down its beaches in tourist areas due to sewage flow into the waters and has some of the worst roads, bridges and infrastructure in the nation.

There is a lot more observations and comparisons I could make after living through three recessions in RI but I’m wasting my beach and happy hour time.

Posted by: Ken at July 17, 2008 10:03 PM


Less than 200 state employees have been eliminated, despite the Gov's best efforts.

And he was not trying to eliminate 1,000 jobs just to balance the budget, although that is reason enough. The fact is that our State employee rolls are way too bloated.

Go to any state agency and you'll see the waste, as too many employees just linger around doing nothing for the few hours (35) they are supposed to work.

The problem with fools like you is that you think Gov't exists in order to provide and create jobs.

You say RI Department of Labor and Training are the two main state agencies that are supposed to work together creating jobs. Huh??

Businesses & entrepreneas create jobs, NOT Governments, you misguided fool.

And with respect to the Historic Tax credit, it was a joke. It created, at best, temporary jobs (many for out of state businesses and employees) creating more condos & appartments that will ultimately become low-income havens. RI Taxpayers will be paying for years to service the debt on the bonds that created a short term / temporary stimulus.

Hopefully you can convince some of your RI Public Employee cronies to join you on the beaches of HI ...as you and your ilk have done enough damage to the state w/ your misguided "thinking".

Posted by: George Elbow at July 18, 2008 8:25 PM

" think Gov't exists in order to provide and create jobs."

For the most part, private companies create jobs. If government were the source of most jobs, who would pay for them?

But the state and federal gov't can play a big role in encouraging the creation of jobs by not over-regulating or over-taxing. Rhode Island has not done well in those areas. We have the 48th worst business climate which has trickled down to an uncomfortably high unemployment rate, as Justin notes above.

(Good comment, George E.)

Posted by: Monique at July 19, 2008 7:54 AM

Monique - you are right.

Gov't does NOT create jobs. At best, they get in the way with regulations, taxes and bad labor legislation (e.g. NOT allowing RI to be a Right To Work state).

As a result of their over-regulation, over-taxing and Union pandering, they end up having "agencies" that "help navigate" the mess they created and then, guys like Ken, delude themselves into thinking these "agencies" created jobs.

It's like tying someone up and laying them on the train tracks. Then when they train comes, they run over and cut them loose and claim "we save lives".

Posted by: George Elbow at July 19, 2008 9:50 AM
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