Blogs

E-Bikes, China and Human Aspirations

The Wall Street Journal recently carried an article entitled “E-Yikes: Electric Bikes Terrorize the Streets of China.” The article describes difficulties arising from the fact that nearly 120 million electric (battery) bicycles (E-Bikes) are now in operation in China, as people have abandoned mechanical bicycles and highly-polluting petrol motorbikes.  read more »

Is Illinois 'Bankrupt'?

While California's much publicized budget battles have made the dire financial straights faced in Sacramento a topic of regular media conversation, other states are also experiencing major fiscal woes. According to experts interviewed by Crain's Chicago Business, Illinois currently finds itself in a state of de facto bankruptcy, with the state's ledgers appearing "to meet classic definitions of insolvency: Its liabilities far exceed its assets, and it's not generating enough cash to pay its bills."  read more »

Traffic Congestion in Atlanta

I was pleased to have the opportunity to have an op-ed produced on transportation in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on January 17. The op-ed, entitled “Arterial system needed” argued that the most important thing the Atlanta metropolitan area could do to reduce traffic congestion would be to develop a decent arterial street system, something that, unbelievably, does not exist today.  read more »

“First” vs. “Worst”

Taking on the Portland mystique is not easy – and likely I'll find out again with my most recent piece: Picture-perfect Portland?

But I'd also like to take a Midwest perspective that shows some surprising things. Let's compare Portland to a similarly sized and less acclaimed Midwest city, Indianapolis.  read more »

Oregon Tries to Catch California – On the way down!

Oregon’s voters will soon give their judgment on Measures 66 and 67, measures that will raise income and corporate taxes in the recession-ravaged state – with unemployment at 11.1 percent, the eighth highest in the nation. Besides leaving the state with the highest marginal rate in the country, tied with Hawaii, more insidiously measure 67 will impose a minimum tax based on sales, not profits, implying an infinite marginal tax rate for low-profit companies.  read more »

Now You Should be Really Fiscally Afraid in California

After reading a recent article I wrote about growing unfunded liabilities for public employee pensions and health care, a reader told me that it made him want to “burn his eyes out with red hot pokers.” Yes, the current situation – expanding debt, growing government, excessive pay and special privileges for government workers, thanks to union power – is not fun to read about. It can be downright scary, when one considers the financial mess that already is looming.  read more »

Municipal Budget Mess

A recent report from the National League of Cities projects a grim financial situation for many municipal governments during the next three years. According to the report the municipal sector "likely faces a combined, estimated shortfall of anywhere from $56 billion to $83 billion from 2010-2012." Such shortfalls will be "driven by declining tax revenues, ongoing service demands and cuts in state revenues".  read more »

A Milestone on the Road to Becoming a Third-World Economy

Northrop Grumman Corp started California’s New Year by announcing it is moving its headquarters to the Washington D.C. area. Unfortunately, they are neither the first nor the last major corporation to leave Southern California. It is a trend, one that may not last much longer, though since aren’t that many major corporations still headquartered in greater Los Angeles.  read more »

Avoiding Housing Bubbles: Regulating the (Land Use) Regulators

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernacke called for stronger regulation to avoid future asset bubbles, such as the housing bubble that precipitated the international financial crisis (the Great Recession) in an Atlanta speech.  read more »

More Money for Bailout CEOs

The day before leaving town to vacation in an opulent $9 million, 5-bedroom home in Hawaii, the Obama administration pledged unlimited financial support for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The mortgage giants are already beneficiaries of $200 billion in taxpayer aid.  read more »