Economics

The Tech Economy’s Untold Story

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The decisions by Amazon and Google to expand into the New York area have led some pundits to claim that the nation’s high-tech economic future will be shaped in dense urban areas.  read more »

Pittsburgh & Rochester: Best 2018 International Housing Affordability

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Pittsburgh and Rochester have the best housing affordability among 91 major markets (metropolitan areas with more than 1,000,000 population) in eight nations. Both have a median house price that is 2.6 times the median household income, a measure called the Median Multiple. This is the conclusion of the 15th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, which rates housing markets based on estimates from the 3rd quarter of 2018.  read more »

Lyfting Herself Up From Her Bootstraps

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I occasionally find myself in an Uber or Lyft. I like to hear about the lives of the people who do the driving. They’re overwhelmingly from the distant suburbs and drive in to the city to collect fares. An hour away is the most typical distance. I ask why they don’t just drive near where they live. The numbers don’t add up. Not enough volume. The distances are too far and the empty round trips burn up miles with no income. And the price they get for each trip is geographically sensitive based on supply and demand.  read more »

The Labor Market Is Changing: Is Your Company Ready?

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Ever since the economy began to bounce back, with unemployment at an all-time low, the familiar refrain from pundits has been that growth, particularly of the higher wage variety, would head to the tech-oriented elite cities along the coasts. Yet, today, despite the headlines about Amazon’s expansions in New York and Washington, D.C., the real story is the aggressive growth taking place on a changing stage, both in terms of geography and changing labor demands.  read more »

Will Canada Break Up Over Carbon Dioxide?

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Countries have broken up for very serious reasons like slavery, religious differences and ethnic tensions. But, so far, never in history has a country been at risk of breaking up because of a harmless gas – carbon-dioxide. Canada could, thanks to an ideologically-driven federal government.  read more »

The Middle Kingdom and the U.S. Economy

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In the poker match between President Donald Trump and China’s new all-but-emperor, Xi Jinping, it’s widely assumed that Xi holds the best hand. Yet President Xi’s hand may not be as awesome as it appears, while the United States, even under this very flawed president, may hold some fine cards.  read more »

Amazon, Google, Apple and the Late Capitalism Blues

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We think of the movements of high-tech firms as illustrative of totally new phenomena but it resonates as well with earlier industrial history. The “gilded age” of America, when industries expanded rapidly, produced a growing appetite for labor. Automation in production also expanded output and revenue, but also a growing need for workers.  read more »

Blaming Workers Again

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Working-class people often get blamed for their troubles. They should have planned better, been less demanding, or just been smarter. Those are just some of the judgments that surfaced again in the weeks after General Motors’ announcement late in November that it would close five plants in the U.S. and Canada, leaving thousands of workers without jobs.  read more »

Can High-Speed Rail Make Housing Affordable?

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UCLA management professor Jerry Nickerson thinks he has found a solution to California’s housing affordability problems: high-speed rail. Based on years of data, he has concluded that some Japanese who work in Tokyo and other expensive cities make long commutes on high-speed trains to more affordable cities elsewhere in the country.  read more »

Emmanuel Newsom?

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A youthful and handsome appearance, the blessings of the autocrats and clerics of our times, and a fawning media — all these belonged to French President Emmanuel Macron just a year ago. He was praised as everything from the “new leader of the Free World” to Europe’s Reagan.

Today Macron’s presidency is adrift, paralyzed by grassroots opposition to his policies — mostly from the middle and working classes — and a popularity rating about half of that suffered by Donald Trump. Is this the fate that awaits our new governor, Gavin Newsom?  read more »