Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Looking at the nature of Wyoming's economy again

The Casper Star Tribune has started a series looking at the Wyoming Economy.

As you know, dear reader, we did that some time ago:

The Wyoming Economy. Looking at it in a different way. 

 Big Horn foothills. There's a reason why I've posted this here, but you'll have to slog through the post to discover why.
I thought about starting this thread just the other day.  On what must surely be a "Great Wyoming Minds Think Alike" type of day, Neil Waring, on one of his blogs (like me, he keeps more than one blog) posted this item on the same topic:
Wyoming Fact and Fiction: Bring on the Tourists: Must Be In Wyoming With Wyoming coal now suffering at the hands of environmentalists, the downturn in crude oil prices, and natural g...
So he got there first.
The article includes some interesting analysis, including this:

Can it be done?

Colorado School of Mines professor Graham Davis said that if the Cowboy State was going to become a hub for non-extractive industries, that already would have happened. “I can tell you there have been many, many regions and nations that have tried to diversify away from natural resources through planning exercises,” Davis said. “None have succeeded.”

He said Colorado, a state that moved from mining, oil, coal and precious metals to boasting a variety of major industries including high-tech, did not takeconcerted steps to diversify its economy.“It’s just market forces,” Davis said. Denver, San Francisco and many other metropolitan centers in the United States were creations of gold rushes or other mining booms — essentially random events that can lead to a thriving region. Wyoming’s borders were e effectively drawn in the 1860s as an act of corporate welfare meant to subsidize the railroad.
And the article goes on from there.

Is it correct?

Well, I don't know about statehood being drawn as an act of corporate welfare. That strikes me, FWIW, as an example of (and this won't quite sound the way its going to sound) as something from the Marxist school of history and it doesn't really square, in my view, with the historical record.  But otherwise, I think he may be on to something, that something being that geography matters and, in addition, state lines aren't really natural lines.

Indeed, looked at that way, the region is doing well economically even if the state might not be.  The regional economic capital is Denver, by that analysis, with perhaps Salt Lake and Calgary being contenders.  That doesn't mean states down have their own unique characters and even cultures, but it would also be the case that they're part of a larger geographic entity.

If that's right, that doesn't mean that the state should just ignore the economy, in my view.  But it might mean that the analysis that I set out above might be closer to being correct than some of what the legislature and others may have been looking at recently, taking the long view.

No comments: