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The Economic Perspective 03/22/2024

The Latest Trending Economic, Environmental and Demographic News Curated for You By The Balmoral Group

The Balmoral Group provides practical, professional and precise Economics, Data Analytics, and Engineering Consulting services and is part of a globally integrated team.

Happy Friday!

While earlier this week St. Patrick's Day was observed with many sporting green in their attire for the day, according to estimates from the National Retail Federation spending for the holiday crossed the seven-billion mark for the first time, increasing by 57% since 2015. While this holiday is often at the forefront of celebrations in the third week of March, several other non-official holidays receive a little less attention including a few favorites of staff here at TBG as these days all cross areas of our work here at The Balmoral Group: Global Recycling Day (March 18), National Renewable Energy Day (March 20), World Water Day, National Ag Day, and Manatee Appreciation Day (March 22). A very notable date on our calendars this week (March 20) includes a very special 15th Anniversary for Balmoral Group Australia!

As previously mentioned with the plethora of "Day of" options for the third week in March, our chart of the week features the 2024 World Happiness Report released to mark the UN's International Day of Happiness (March 20) revealing the global geographic differences of where people are the most (and least) happiest. Articles included in this week's Economic Perspective feature a new consideration in Florida's Wildlife Corridor, new EPA rules to cut emissions, the recovery of the Architecture Billings Index, and more!

We hope you enjoy the read and let us know what you think! Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested. If you’d like to view previous editions please click here, or to subscribe please click here!


Florida Cabinet Considering $122M Land Deal in Florida's Wildlife Corridor

Governor DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet met this week to consider a land deal in which the state would purchase approximately 25,000 acres in the Caloosahatchee-Big Cypress Corridor in Hendry and Collier counties. The purchase would be the first acquisition in a series of land purchases authorized by the Legislature in this area of the Florida Wildlife Corridor that would provide a lease-back option to sellers that reduces land management costs to the state, including a 10-year initial lease term with options for two 5-year renewals. The land purchase will help ensure continued connectivity of habitat for the Florida panther and other wildlife species in the Corridor. Read more here.

EPA Issues New Rules Aimed at Cutting Carbon Emissions

The new rules will relax initial tailpipe limits but eventually return to the same strict standards. The EPA’s goal is to cut emissions from vehicles by ensuring 56% of new vehicles sales are electric between now and 2032. These rules come after record high EV sales last year have slightly slowed this year. The standards are designed to be technology-neutral and performance-based with the goal of giving auto-manufacturers flexibility to choose pollution-control technologies that are best suited for their customers. Read More.

Architecture Billings Recovering

The AIA Architecture Billings Index was 49.5 in February, the highest result in several months. Although still under 50, the score that indicates an increase in billings, the jump from January’s low 46.2 result “suggests that the recent slowdown may be receding” according to the AIA. The reversal was credited to easing inflation pressures and the potential for lower federal interest rates in the coming months. New project inquiries saw a marketed improvement to an index value of 56.0 in February, up from 53.8 in January. Read More Here.

Rebuilding Trust in Carbon market through nature-Based Solutions

Nature-based climate solutions play a critical role in addressing nature loss and climate change. This is needed for the world to achieve net zero. In 2021, the World Economic Forum research estimated that they could provide around 7 Gigatons of carbon removal, and at a lower cost than other forms of CO2 removal. Four nature-based climate solutions are identified in the study, and these are tropical forest conservation; temperate forest conservation; tropical forest reforestation; and temperate forest reforestation. Carbon finance also played a vital role in developing nature-based solutions. It enables companies to move towards net zero. Read more here. 

USDOT Issues 'Reconnecting

Communities' Grants

On March 13th, the U.S. DOT awarded more than $3.3 billion via its Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhood Access and Equity discretionary grant program to 132 infrastructure projects across the country. These seek to reconnect communities cut off in the past by transportation infrastructure. 2 capital grants were awarded in Florida: one in Miami for the I-395 underdeck and heritage trail, and the other for the emerald trail in Jacksonville. Also, 2 planning grants were awarded: one for the Miccosukee Tribe to enhancing connectivity, safety, and mobility, and the other in Broward County to improve 5 railroad intersections by tunneling roads under the railroad. AASHTO

Harnessing Drone Swarms for Rapid Fire Response

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) published a study detailing the usage of coordinated drone swarms to combat escalating global rates of forest fires, spurred on by climate change showing promise for disaster responses beyond forest fires. The researchers introduced a novel algorithm enabling drones to communicate and make autonomous decisions that is inspired by marine predator foraging behavior. The algorithm optimizes swarm-based search patterns in order to identify areas of wildfire and dispersing the required number of drones to treat the area with decentralized decision-making ensuring resource allocation matches fire severity. While specific components of the approach, such as the AI-enabled fire detection using thermal cameras, and accurate payload drop mechanism for fire extinguisher deployment have been tested, full-scale search and mitigation by the swarm is yet to undergo field-testing. Read more here.

Washington Explores Climate Market Partnership with California, Quebec

On Wednesday, Washington’s Department of Ecology, California’s Air Resources Board, and the Gouvernement du Quebec released a joint statement signaling their interest in linking Washington’s carbon market to the combined California-Quebec market. Linked since 2014, California and Quebec share emission allowances through their cap-and-trade programs for use in both jurisdictions. The market merger would extend this to allowances from Washington’s cap-and-invest program, which has operated since January 2023, and promote jurisdictional cooperation in future climate change regulations. The partnership would require joint auctions for selling allowances, but is expected to give businesses a larger pool of allowances to draw from and provide a larger market to resell excess allowances. You can read more here.

Data Visualization of the Week

2024 World Happiness Report

The United Nations released the 2024 World Happiness Report on Wednesday to mark the UN's International Day of Happiness, which aims to promote awareness for "more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all people". While subjective parameters, the team behind the report produced a country-ranking map revealing clear geographical differences. To map satisfaction, 143 countries were surveyed with participants rating current-life satisfaction levels on a 10 point scale. The chart shows that the United States is ranked 23rd out of the 143 counties in the 2024 evaluation, with residents of Finland (7.74), Denmark (7.58) and Iceland (7.53) among the most satisfied. The authors analyzed GDP per capita, life expectancy or social system quality as "supporting factors" but do not have influence on the scores reported. Read More.


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