Boom and Gloom: An Economic Warning for California

The United States is on track to achieve the second-longest economic expansion in its history. Unemployment is at a 17-year low. And California’s state budget has a multibillion-dollar surplus.

So why is its longtime governor, Jerry Brown, issuing prophecies of doom?

. . . Mr. Brown’s statements highlight California’s distinction as a state of high highs and low lows. From the recession of the early 1990s to the 2001 dot-com crash to the housing collapse of a decade ago, downturns often end up being more pronounced in the state than elsewhere. The next recession, whenever it comes, will almost certainly land harder here than it does in the rest of the country. And that boom-bust pattern is especially tough on California’s budget — something that Mr. Brown, who was first elected governor more than four decades ago, knows well.

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