Top Florida economic advisor lacks econ degree, avoided using real data because it’d look bad

I’ve made fun of Florida’s propensity for giving its sports teams lots of money based on doofy economic impact studies before, such as when Pinellas County moved forward with a plan for giving the Toronto Blue Jays $65 million for a new spring training facility in Dunedin based on an economic report that assumed that every single ticket sold went to a different person who traveled to Florida just for that game. But this, this, from WTSP’s Noah Pransky, takes the damn cake:

10Investigates found the author of so many economic impact reports that support public sports subsidies may not be the expert economist state leaders believe he is.

The resume of Mark Bonn, Ph.D., a professor at Florida State University’s Dedman School of Hospitality, boasts of dozens of reports compiled for municipalities all across Florida, including some statewide organizations.

Bonn’s side company, Bonn Marketing Inc., recently received $23,000 from just one study, commissioned by the Toronto Blue Jays and city of Dunedin to show the economic impact of spring training…

Nobody on the committee questioned Bonn’s qualifications.

But 10Investigates did, asking if Bonn considered himself an economist.


12 comments on “Top Florida economic advisor lacks econ degree, avoided using real data because it’d look bad

  1. The real question, though, is whether his reports were any more (or less) outlandish than those prepared by “actual” experts. I bet not too much!

  2. Con artistry is hard work. That’s why I’m so glad I’m in the Club of 32. We don’t have to commission goofy studies from fake experts, though some of my brethren have probably tried this. No, all we have to do is say the M word… “move” and it’s like yelling fire in a dark, crowded theater. The scramble to pay us is on!

    • Ben, I did not know that, and I am always interested in the story behind the story, so to speak. Could you please point out a few specific examples? Many thanks!

      • A real economist is at risk of losing his/her job if his/her economic projects are wrong. The econ profs quoted in this and many other articles on this site are mere pontiffs.

        • I’ve never seen that definition of a “real” economist.

          Poking around the web:

          “[Economists] conduct research, collect and analyze data, monitor economic trends, and develop forecasts on a wide variety of issues, including energy costs, inflation, interest rates, exchange rates, business cycles, taxes, and employment levels, among others.”

          “Economists study the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services by collecting and analyzing data, researching trends, and evaluating economic issues.”

          “An economist is someone who studies the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services. A generally accepted interpretation in academia is that an economist is one who has attained a Ph.D. in economics, teaches economic science, and has published literature in a field of economics.”

          “Economists apply economic analysis to issues within a variety of fields, such as education, health, development, and the environment. Some economists study the cost of products, healthcare, or energy. Others examine employment levels, business cycles, or exchange rates. Others analyze the effect of taxes, inflation, or interest rates.”

          Nothing in any of those involves losing their jobs, but I imagine if one does poor analysis and study time and time again, one could lose their job, even in academia.

          But since it appears that its the academics (the pontiffs) that don’t float your boat, i believe there is a probably worse counter issue with the “real” economists in this area of analysis: They make stuff up to benefit the teams trying to pull on over on the public. Their projections are overly optimistic and have no basis in historical reality. They get their money and can walk away. They do it over and over and don’t seem to lose their jobs because there is always the next team looking for a handout.

  3. I don’t have an economics degree and do EIS analyses all the time. Then again, I always disclose my credentials (Physics and Mathematics degrees) and never claim to have an economics degree. Plus I don’t use any of the so-called economic models (RIMS II, etc) because they are highly inaccurate and based on ridiculous financial assumptions.

    • The issue isn’t having a degree but being honest about the analysis. Nobody claiming that every single visitor was going to be from out-of-state and distinct is being honest. That’s not even a “mistake” it’s willfully lying.

      • You are correct. You should read some of the EIS coming out of Nevada. No wonder corporations are moving here because of the hundreds of millions (in Tesla’s case, billions) of dollars simply forked over to them because of these rosy financial projections. Dummies out here don’t even know the difference between net revenue earned and tax revenue generated.

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