Is there really only one economist in North Carolina?

Watching how the media rely on Mike Walden at the NC State Department of Economics, you'd think he was god's gift or something. When in fact, he's really Art Pope's gift. A regular contributor to the Carolina Journal, Walden has been associated with Mr. Pope throughout his career, bringing free-market happy talk to the table at every turn.

So when Deputy Assistant Governor McCrory declared economic victory this week, WRAL's Mark Binker predictably turned to Walden to dish out more of McCrory's sunny outlook.

"What I tend to look at is job creation," Walden said. Over the past four years, he said, the number of jobs available in the state has been growing.

Binker's not alone in his reliance on Walden for economic insight. The News and Observer is even worse, if that's possible. Which means the top two sources of news about economic policy in North Carolina both depend almost exclusively on the same biased source for expertise. Art Pope's multimillion dollar opinion manufacturing machine is alive and kicking.

I'm sure Make Walden is a fine person who means well, but his long-standing ties to the state's budget director make him a questionable resource for any reporter trying to get a honest picture of economic trends in North Carolina.


As I wrote on Binker's FB timeline

Walden is a wholly owned subsidiary of Art Pope, Inc. The influence of the Puppetshow runs deeper than ever.

Most journalists are lazy

They only quote one source for anything. Walden on economics, Bob Hall on campaign finance or election reform, etc.

Reporters in other parts of the country do the same thing.

But surely here in NC, there has to be more than one professor of economics who has an opinion on our state's economic condition.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

Right you are

With Bob, at least the disclose his affiliations. With Walden, one would never know he's been in the pocket of Pope forever.

It wouldn't take much to find others happy to opinionate on economics in North Carolina.

Affiliations are different than pockets.

Bob is affilated with DemocracyNC - he's the Executive Director. Walden is affiliated with NCSU - they pay his salary.

Now while I agree with the agenda of DemocracyNC on most issues, there are some I do not agree on. Like Instant Runoff Voting which thankfully DemocracyNC isn't pushing anymore because their are much bigger fish to fry.

Funding drives the agenda of non-profit organizations. Meaning if some trust or other bigger non-profit funds you and wants you to advocate for a position, you do it.

It might be tough to find an economist at any university who wasn't taking money from some foundation that supports their research. Tough but not impossible.

Perhaps we should be making a list of economists and other experts who don't take money from rich people alone to fund their research - perhaps we should find folks who are funded by unions? I suggest unions because I can't think of any other group of people who could possibly put together enough spare cash to fund economic research that advocates for working people other than the few that are still funded by rich people and wouldn't have an interested in self-perpetuating economic policies.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

Walden's credentials

I try not to be an elitist and not to pay too much attention to credentials or degrees. However, in Walden's case I will make an exception, as the NC media trots him out as an expert on any and all kinds economics issues. I wrote a letter to the N&O about this years ago. No answer from them.

Dr. Walden is an agriculture economics expert. If I recall correctly former Governor Jim Hunt also had an advanced degree in agricultural economics. For "balance" maybe folks like Rob Christiansen or others could use Hunt, too.

Here is the posting on the NCSU website with Walden's expertise:

Title: Wm Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor
Department: Agricultural and Resource Economics
Research Interest: Consumer economics, regional economics, public policy, North Carolina economy
Degree From: Cornell University (1978)

Martha Brock

thanks for digging this up,

thanks for digging this up, Martha.

Walden's agricultural background may have been important 20 years ago, but clearly the base of North Carolina's economy has shifted. And even if he's kept up with the times, he still brings biases to the table ... as does any economist.

What's so dangerous about Walden is that he brings Art Pope's biases to the table.

Poor reporting is the

Poor reporting is the regurgitation Binker sadly shows above when actual data is publicly available for this WRAL market.

Let's take Wake County employment numbers where the labor force SHRINKS from 2012 to 2013:

Labor Force Employed Unemployed Rate
July 2012 501,184 461,064 40,138 8.0%
July 2013 496.962 461,179 35,783 7.2%
YTD change -4,222 +133 -4,355 -0.8%

Aug 2012 492,636 454,346 38,290
Aug 2013 487,089 454,758 32,331
YTD change -5,547 +412 -5,959

Oct 2012 495,354 459,880 35,474 7.2%
Oct 2013 488,907 459,999 38,908 5.9%
YTD change -6,447 +119 -6,566 -1.3%

If this is the result of NCGOP policies, they need to be fired immediately.

Anyone crowing over the loss of THOUSANDS in the labor force every month needs to be shown the door.

Take a look at that first column again.


I agree. We need to hear from

I agree. We need to hear from a broader group of specialists.