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Detroit’s New Streetlights Show Service Rebuilding in Action

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I’ve been arguing that one thing struggling post-industrial cities need to do is take care of their own business, doing things like addressing legacy liabilities and rebuilding of core public services.

Last week I write about Buffalo doing just this by completely re-writing its zoning code and creating a new land use map of the city to bring its planning ordinances up to date for the 21st century.  read more »

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Them that’s got shall have. Them that’s not shall lose.

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My family lived in this building when I was a kid in the 1970’s. This was the door to our old apartment. It’s in a nondescript part of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. There are a million places just like this all over the Southland. These beige stucco boxes are the workhorses of semi-affordable market rate housing in California. The place hasn’t changed in forty years other than the on-going deferred maintenance.  read more »

The Irony That Could Trip Up Trump's Quest To Make The U.S. Economy 'Great Again'

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Perhaps no president in recent history has more pressure on him to perform economic miracles than Donald Trump. As someone who ran on the promise that he could fix the economy -- and largely won because of it -- Trump faces two severe challenges, one that is largely perceptual and another more critical one that is very real.

To start, Trump must cope with the widespread idea, accepted by much of the media, that we are experiencing something of an “Obama boom.”  read more »

World Automotive Sales Setting New Records

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The world has come a long way since 1929, when 80 percent of the world’s car registrations were in the United States, which also manufactured 90 percent of the vehicles. Now China produces the most cars and its annual sales rank top in the world. China overtook the United States in vehicle sales during the Great Recession. But it’s not like Americans are no longer buying cars; the US broke its own record last year.  read more »

Globalization's Winner-Take-All Economy

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“If you are a very talented person, you have a choice: You either go to New York or you go to Silicon Valley.”

This statement by Peter Thiel, the PayPal founder and venture capitalist, unsurprisingly caused a stir, given that he made it in Chicago. Simon Kuper had made a similar observation in the Financial Times when he described how young Dutch up-and-comers had their sights set on London, not Amsterdam. “Many ambitious Dutch people no longer want to join the Dutch elite,” Kuper wrote. “They want to join the global elite.”  read more »

Working-Class Nostalgia

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The first time I presented a paper at an academic conference, I was accused of being nostalgic. My mistake, as my fellow academic pointed out, was that in my bid to find some value in working-class occupational cultures I was guilty of backward looking romanticism. It wasn’t meant to be constructive criticism, but over the years I’ve developed a longstanding interest in the idea of nostalgia which is often attached to working-class life.  read more »

The Demographics of Poverty in Santa Clara County

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Tucked away in the bottom corner of the San Francisco Bay, tech royalty make themselves at home in their silicon castles. Santa Clara County is the wealthiest county in California, and 14th in the nation, boasting an average median household income of $96,310. However, where there are kings, there must be subjects. Despite its affluence, Santa Clara remains one of the most unequal counties in the United States.  read more »

The Futility of Annual Top 10 Predictions

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In every recent year, a black swan event has made top 10 lists appear quaintly naive and unimaginative. Our list is probably no better.

This time of year, top 10 predictions are all the rage. These lists can be interesting and entertaining but how useful are they really?

This question goes to the heart of forecasting. How futile or how useful is an attempt to forecast the economy, or technology, or world events for the next twelve months? There are three answers.  read more »

California as Alt-America

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In 1949 the historian Carey McWilliams defined California as the “the Great Exception” -- a place so different from the rest of America as to seem almost a separate country. In the ensuing half-century, the Golden State became not so much exceptional but predictive of the rest of the nation: California’s approaches to public education, the environment, politics, community-building and lifestyle often became national standards, and even normative.  read more »

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