Jonathan H. Todd

Finance, Investing, Economics


The personal blog of Jonathan H. Todd. All opinions are my own.

I am a Chartered Financial Analyst, and am currently a macroeconomic analyst for a leading market intelligence provider. I was previously a data analyst for NerdWallet. I have appeared on MSNBC, had research cited by the Wall Street Journal, and am trying to master pâtisserie.

I received an AB in Law, Letters, and Society from the University of Chicago (’06), and an MBA from Vanderbilt University (’12). Other professional experiences include several years managing portfolios of securitized debt products at Bank of America and consulting early stage technology and digital strategy companies.

A native of Los Angeles, CA, I now live in Boston, MA.


  1. Ashley DeSena

    July 19, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    Dear Mr. Todd,

    I just read an article in the local paper regarding the best towns to do business in North Carolina. I have a few questions that I hope you can answer:
    1. “The number of businesses with paid employees” – Is this criteria as simple as it sounds? If so, could you please explain how the numbers are so low? Don’t most businesses have paid employees?
    2. How does the number of businesses per 100 people and median annual income indicate that there is opportunity to create and grow a local business? Maybe I misunderstand the figure, but it seems that there could be 100 businesses per 100 people and yet none of the hundred businesses are owned by local people (although the odds are nearly impossible, of course). Also, does a higher median annual income correlate with a higher rate of entrepreneurship?
    3. How did you factor in the regulatory climate?

    Thanks so much for your help.

    Ashley DeSena

    • Ashley, terribly sorry for the delayed response. To your questions,

      1) It’s a measurement of how many companies in a city have paid employees, vs. sole proprietors. Across most cities, sole proprietors outnumber businesses with paid businesses (there is no revenue minimum, so this counts for babysitters, individual tax preparers, etc.). If there are more businesses with paid employees, that’s indicative of a healthier business environment, and is more economically sustainable.

      2) We haven’t run incomes against entrepreneurship, but a high number just means that a city is a desirable place to start a business. Even if the people who own the businesses don’t live in the town, it may still be a very desirable place to start a business.

      3) We didn’t directly calculate the regulatory environment, but this seems to be somewhat wrapped up in the “Number of businesses per 100 residents” number. If there isn’t much red tape and it’s easy to start a business, people will be more likely to start businesses in that city.

      Hope that helps, but please let me know if you have any other questions.


  2. Hi Jonathan,

    I noticed that you referenced Thumbtack’s annual survey in a recent article and thought you might enjoy taking a look at LawnStarter’s 2015 Quality of Life Index Report.

    We compiled numerous data points to find out how states and cities matched up against each other in terms of the quality of life they present for potential and current residents. A couple of the factors we ranked were GDP, divorce rates, and male-to-female income ratio.

    If you’d like to check it out and see where your city/state ranks, you can find the rankings here:

    I appreciate your time and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.


    Ryan Farley
    Chief Economic Research Analyst

  3. Jonathan – Couldn’t find Sioux Falls, SD in the Best Cities for Young Entrepreneurs article? Trying to reconcile the data with ours…any help is appreciated…thx. JB

  4. Brandon Baumbach

    November 1, 2016 at 9:45 am

    Hi Todd,

    Your article on Best Cities for Young Entrepreneurs ( was a good one. Like John, above, my city was left out. In the spring I dug in to the question of why and I concluded it was because our city was not participating in the COLI. For this reason, I took up the torch to participate and the Q3 results are in, as of the end of last week.

    Although problematic to use these Q32016 data in comparison with the 2014 data you used, I’d still like to be able to draw a conclusion that we would’ve been on the list had we participated.

    Any help for me to do so, or, do you plan to run these numbers again this January?

    Thank you for initially writing the article and hearing my question!

  5. Strange. A well reasoned, referenced and written collection of thoughts on the internet. A bit of a unicorn. You need to make it easier for people to subscribe though.

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