What is economic consulting?  When is it relevant?  Those are questions that we answer on an ongoing basis.

Economic Consulting

Economic consulting is the application of economic concepts like supply, demand, equilibrium price, and game theory to the strategic decisions that face decision makers on a daily basis.  We are most relevant when you are striving to accomplish and organizational imperative and someone or something similar stands on your way or could potentially do so.

For instance, we work with many real estate developers with good ideas, but who require a zoning modification, support for infrastructure investment, or simply to acquire needed permits to realize their vision.  Sage contributes by estimating the prospective economic and fiscal impacts of their project on the community – benefits like job creation and income tax collections that the community would otherwise forego.

We also work with law firms in support of their clients, energy suppliers facing a constellation of emerging and potentially expensive regulations, medical systems striving to measure performance, business associations working to pass helpful legislation or defend against injurious legislative proposals, and nonprofits which seek to expand their appeal to donors.

Our newsletter, “Economics by Anirban,” provides our CEO’s analysis and musings direct to consumers. Paid subscribers receive weekly economic review posts, a monthly Q&A post, and other occasional content. Non-paid subscribers get a post on the jobs report on the first (or second) Friday of each month.

Our Relevance – Transparent Analytics + Effective Messaging

Broadly, there are two different sets of services we offer.  The first is analytics.  Using standard econometrics, available modeling packages, straightforward computations and other techniques, we provide the data and information that defends or refutes relevant hypotheses.

The second is messaging.  The numbers are important, but translating that into themes that people find compelling, whether legislators, financiers, or customers, is especially critical.  

While Sage prides itself on its analytical capabilities, we are aware that many similar groups are strong econometrically.  But many of these groups are weak at messaging, and this is in our view the source of our greatest competitive advantage.

There is a lot that goes into effective messaging.  Knowing one’s audience is perhaps at the top of the list, but there is a broader philosophical issue at work.  Many analysts take pleasure in showing off their brute force econometric capabilities.  Without question, a capable statistician is someone to be respected and revered, but in many circumstances, they produce no effect.

Why?  Because most legislators, ordinary citizens, and zoning officers are unlikely to be swayed by high R-squares and clever variable instrumentation.  The processes that create statistically significant parameters are incredibly opaque and even lucid explanations of methodology leave most stakeholders speechless.  

In the world of economic consulting and promoting agendas, the most effective analyses are the most transparent – the simplest to recreate.  There are times when the nature of the endeavor requires our four economists and supporting analysts to engage in brute force econometrics, including the development of hedonic pricing models, which we have done on many occasions.  Our preference, however, is to formulate analyses that are as basic as possible.  That enhances credibility and relevance.

The problem with some consultants is that they view themselves as being at the center of things.  They are not.  It is the client and their agenda that serves as the sun – the analyst is on the periphery.

We at Sage are happy to support our clients.  It is your organizational objective that serves as the basis for our research agenda.  To serve that agenda means to avoid the temptation of delivering unnecessarily complex analyses.  The more comprehensible the analysis, the simpler it is to produce a credible accompanying report.  This is where we really shine.

Will You Work for Anyone?

No.  We tell all of our clients that we cannot guarantee an analytical result.  The data will speak for themselves.  

In some cases, we turn away work because we instinctively know that we cannot generate an analysis that will support a particular agenda.  For this reason, you won’t see a Sage analysis focused on the benefits of tax evasion anytime soon.  

On the other hand, we tend not to steer away from controversy, and have conducted analyses regarding the impacts of medicinal marijuana, fracking, immigration, free trade, terrorism, and many other divisive issues of our time.  In fact, we believe ourselves to be most effective and impactful when politics are intense, nuanced, and the stakes are high.

Our History

We were founded on March 27, 2004 after a very tough day.  A split business partnership led Sage’s founder, Anirban Basu, to contemplate his future.  Family members urged him to return to a university setting.  He refused.  The dream of starting a successful consultancy was undimmed.

Together with his wife, he came up with the name Sage Policy Group, Inc — “Sage” because that is synonymous with wisdom – “Policy” because this endeavor is all about helping people forge good public and institutional policies – and “Group” because one of the goals was to build a team of professionals each pulling in the same direction.

More than a dozen years later, Sage has managed to create a client base that encompasses more than forty states as well as six countries.  The company is particularly well known for its analytical capabilities in healthcare, energy, real estate, construction, manufacturing, thoroughbred horse racing, lotteries, agriculture, tourism, entrepreneurship, government contracting, secondary and post-secondary education, school enrollment forecasting, litigation support, economic development, economic forecasting, fiscal impact analyses, legislative analyses, industry outlooks, and the economics of retirement.

The company’s founder serves on many boards and delivers many speeches.  He current serves as the Chair of Maryland’s Economic Development Commission, Chief Economist of Associated Builders and Contractors, and is on the board of the University System of Maryland foundation.

How to Work with Us

We are a custom research, fixed price contractor.  We will work on an hourly basis if requested.  You can reach us in a number of ways, including at inquiries@sagepolicy.com, 410.522.7243 (410.522.SAGE), or at:

Sage Policy Group, Inc.
575 S. Charles Street, STE 505
Baltimore, MD  21201

Our proposals are sufficiently detailed and are intended to provide you with a clear understanding of the hours, personnel, data, analytical methods, and deliverables involved.  Should you want to book a Sage economist for a speaking engagement, please contact Julia Comer at inquiries@sagepolicy.com or at 410.522.7243.