California State Capitol (Photo: Morguefile)
Now the World’s 5th Largest
But there’s a downside, too
By Dan Walters | CALmatters Columnist
California was in a bragging mode last week because the state’s economy has climbed in global rankings to 5th place behind only the United States as whole, China, Japan and Germany.
It’s a remarkable factoid, certainly, that one American state generated so much economic production – $2.7 trillion last year – that it could rank among global leaders.
It’s even more impressive that California produces so much even though in terms of population, its 40 million residents would be considered a fairly small country, about the size of Iraq.
California moved into 5th place by slipping past Great Britain, which has 63.5 million people, after previously topping France (65 million) and Italy (61 million).
Even more dramatically, California outproduced Russia (142.5 million) and even India, which has 32 times as many people (1.3 billion).
Okay, so it is something about which Californians should feel proud. It might even fuel those semi-serious efforts to separate California from the rest of the nation and restore the nationhood it briefly had in the 19th century.
However, it’s just as important to keep the new economic rankings in perspective, to wit:
- We’ve been there before. As the state Department of Finance points out, we were 5th in 2002, only to decline as the Great Recession struck a few years later, and we were in 10th place as recently as 2012.
- While the state’s economic output increased by 3 percent in 2017, the economies of five other states grew faster, topped by Washington at 4.4 percent, according to a new report by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. Others with larger increases than California were Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Colorado.
- The BEA report also underscored the narrowness of California’s economic growth of late. The big drivers, the agency reported, were the high-technology and health care sectors.
- Health care growth has been fueled by huge injections of federal Obamacare funds, primarily for expansion of Medi-Cal, the state’s medical program for the poor, to about 14 million Californians, more than a third of the state’s population. Obamacare is, however, under assault in Washington and its future is cloudy.
- California’s technology industry is concentrated in the San Francisco Bay Area and its explosive growth has come with high levels of transportation congestion and housing shortages and costs that threaten its future.
- The high cost of housing, born of an acute shortfall in new construction, is the primary reason why California, for all of its economic power, has the nation’s highest rate of poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s “supplemental” poverty calculation that takes living costs into account.
- The Public Policy Institute of California, expanding on the Census Bureau methodology, says that nearly 40 percent of Californians are living in poverty or near-poverty, with the highest rates in Los Angeles County, home to a quarter of the state’s population.
- Finally, California is, as Gov. Jerry Brown continues to warn, overdue for an economic downturn. It’s the economic version of Newton’s Law. What goes up must inevitably come down, as we have seen several times in the recent past.
CALmatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary
The device is flexible and easy to wear. (Photo courtesy of UC San Diego)
Clinical Trials for Needle-Free Glucose
Monitor for Diabetes Patients
A needle-free glucose monitor developed at UC San Diego measures insulin levels through sweat on the skin so people with diabetes don’t have to prick their fingers so often. The tattoo sensor technology was developed in the labs of Joseph Wang and Patrick Mercier at the Jacobs School of Engineering’s Center for Wearable Sensors.
The sensors are now being tested in a phase 1 clinical trial at the UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute. “Our tattoo is printed with material containing two electrodes that apply a small amount of electrical current,” said electrical engineering professor Patrick Mercier. “This forces glucose molecules that reside below the skin to rise to the surface, allowing us to measure blood sugar.”
Scientists Investigate New Strategy
to Treat Spinal Muscular Atrophy in Infants
Kristen Johnson, a principal investigator at Calibr and co-lead author of the study.
Scientists at the California Institute for Biomedical Research and The Scripps Research Institute have discovered how a potential new drug targets spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). a genetic disease that can leave infants with weak muscles and trouble breathing.
The research, published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could guide the development of other drugs for genetic diseases.
Until recently, patients diagnosed with SMA had no treatment options. The recent approval of a drug called nusinersen, marketed as Spinraza, has given families hope, and now scientists are working to design therapies that could be even more effective.
“If we can learn more about the drugs in the pipeline for genetic diseases, we can learn more about the diseases themselves,” says Kristen Johnson, a principal investigator at Calibr and co-lead author of the study.
Alicia Amerson, left, receives TOP Operator award from Tracy Lamb, vice president of regulatory and safety affairs, and chief pilot at AUVSI. (Photo credit: AUVSI)
San Diego Marine Biologist Honored for Creating
International Drone Protocols to Protect Wildlife
Alimosphere, a San Diego-based business focused on wildlife conservation in both the marine and terrestrial environments, has been honored for environmental stewardship contributions to the Trusted Operator Program at the Association For Unmanned Vehicle Systems International XPONENTIAL conference in Denver. Marine biologist Alicia Amerson, founder of Alimosphere, accepted the award.
The Trusted Operator Program (TOP) designed by leading industry stakeholders and brand ambassadors was a response to unify the remote pilot community and standardize training protocols, best practices, and conduct offered by drone education organizations.
“Alicia Amerson was an outstanding contributor to the ‘build’ of the Trusted Operator Program – TOP,” which is set to launch in September this year,” said Tracy Lamb, vice president of regulatory and safety affairs, and chief pilot at AUVSI.
During the conference Amerson presented a talk on how to design a wildlife disturbance reduction plan in the Trending Topics session. The conference focused heavily on disturbance and emerging drone technology and various applications. “This technology is changing many of the industries we are familiar with and at much faster integration rates than regulations can keep up,” said Amerson. “This is why we need to develop robust flight planning and field protocols.”
Illumina Ventures, Arch Venture
Partners Invest in Luna DNA
Genomic and medical research startup Luna DNA, which offers a custom cryptocurrency to reward individuals for sharing their biological and medical information, said that Illumina Ventures and Arch Venture Partners have become investors in the firm, leading a new round of funding.
Bridgelink Capital, Hemisphere Ventures, and former Human Genome Project leader Aristides Patrinos, who now sits on the Luna DNA advisory board, also participated in the investment round. While San Diego-based Luna did not specify the size of this funding, the company did say it has raised $4 million since its inception. At the time it emerged from stealth mode in December, Luna announced that it had closed a $2 million seed round.
“Luna DNA will accelerate important medical discoveries by putting individuals at the center of a cooperative effort to aggregate and organize a community-owned repository of longitudinal health data,” Illumina Ventures Founding Partner Nick Naclerio said in a statement.
Luna, which calls itself a public benefit corporation, relies on blockchain technology for security, data fluidity, and for rewarding those that contribute data to the research database. Individuals who sell their genetic data will receive compensation in a decentralized cryptocurrency called Luna Coins, which the company has said have “real monetary value.” Luna officials expect pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and other researchers to purchase Luna Coins in order to access aggregated data from specific cohorts of patients.
Scripps Research Chemist Receives
Royal Society of Chemistry Award
Floyd Romesberg, professor at The Scripps Research Institute, has won the 2018 Royal Society of Chemistry Bioorganic Chemistry Award for his ground-breaking contributions to the expansion of the genetic alphabet. Romesberg will receive £2000, a medal and will conduct a lecture tour in the United Kingdom.
Romesberg’s work supports the development of new molecules that add to the genetic code. His recent studies have expanded the natural library of four DNA bases to include two artificial bases. This advance in bioorganic chemistry and synthetic biology has fueled new research to produce unnatural proteins and semi-synthetic organisms for use in drug development.
Solar-Powered UAV with Ability to Fly
for a Year Prepares for 2019 Takeoff
A new solar electric unmanned aerial vehicle, which has the potential to fly for up to a year, has taken a leap closer to reality following a new agreement between BAE Systems and Prismatic. Engineers from the two organizations will collaborate on the development of the new solar-powered high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAV, known as PHASA-35, and are working to prepare their first aircraft for flight tests in 2019.
The technology is being designed to offer a year-round service for a wide range of needs, including surveillance and vital communications to remote areas, using only the sun to power the aircraft during the day and recharge the batteries for overnight operation.
Matt LoPiccolo Joins CBRE as a First VP
Matt LoPiccolo has joined CBRE as a first vice president and will focus on enhancing CBRE’s retail investment sales presence in San Diego.
LoPiccolo joins CBRE from Marcus & Millichap, where he sold more than $350 million retail assets and handled more than 1 million square feet of retail transactions since 2011, ranging from single-tenant net-leased assets to credit-anchored shopping centers. He held the highest market share at Marcus & Millichap within grocery anchored transactions in California.
In his current role at CBRE, LoPiccolo will focus primarily on shopping center investment sales within the $1million-$25million range. He will be representing all classes of clients ranging from private client, private equity, developers, lenders and corporate.
LoPiccolo attended Grand Valley State University on a football scholarship and graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in business administration.
Justin Hulett and Kristin O’Rourke Join Sycuan Casino
Kristin O’Roarke and Justin Hulet
Sycuan Casino has named Justin Hulet as the director of revenue management and reservations and Kristin O’Rourke as the associate director of sales.
Justin Hulet comes to Sycuan with over 10 years of hotel operations and revenue management experience. Prior to joining Sycuan, he was the corporate director of revenue management at MGM Resorts International Las Vegas. Hulet began his revenue management career at the Palms Casino Las Vegas, where he oversaw revenue management strategy and the implementation of a centralized call center, room remodel and various systems. This led to his position at MGM Resorts International where he would oversee several other premier Las Vegas hotel and casinos such as the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Delano Las Vegas, Mirage Hotel & Casino, Luxor Hotel & Casino and Excalibur Hotel & Casino.
Kristin O’Rourke brings over 10 years of sales and hospitality industry experience to the Sycuan team. Most recently, O’Rourke was the corporate task force sales manager at Evolution Hospitality. O’Rourke’s previous roles include the national sales manager at Omni Hotels, sales manager at Kimpton Hotels & Resorts and sales manager at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. At Sycuan Casino, O’Rourke will be assisting the director of sales to prepare for the opening of the new hotel by creating and implementing new sales focused procedures.
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