The world’s largest economies seem engaged in something like the children’s game of “musical chairs.” For years, the United States has been the world’s largest national economy, though in recent decades the integrated economy of the European Union has challenged that claim given that the region includes four of the ten top national economies, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy. The most recent data, reflecting the deep European recession, indicates that the top position has been retaken by the United States. read more »
Despite some hype and a few regional exceptions, the construction of office towers and suburban office parks has not made a significant resurgence in the current recovery. After a century in which office space expanded nationally with every uptick in the economy, we may have reached something close to “peak office” in most markets. read more »
“The heresy of heresies was common sense”—George Orwell
The stories we tell affect the lives we lead. I do not mean to be abstract here. I mean, literally, the stories that are told make up a kind of meta-reality that soaks in us to form a “truth”. This “truth” affects policy, which affects investment, which affects bricks and mortar, pocketbooks, and power. Eventually, the “truth” trickles down into a more real reality that defines the lives of the powerless. read more »
In this strange era of self-congratulation in California, it may be seen as poor manners to point out tectonic shifts that could leave the state and, particularly, Southern California, more economically constrained and ever more dependent on asset bubbles, such as in real estate. One of the most important changes on the horizon is the shift of economic power and influence away from the Pacific Coast to the Gulf Coast – the Third Coast – a process hastened by the imminent widening of the Panama Canal. read more »
Despite well-publicized problems that earned it the nickname of the “Rust Belt”, on paper the Midwest possesses some formidable strengths. These include the largest concentration of engineers in America, world class educational institutions, a plethora of headquarters of global champions ranging from Proctor and Gamble to Caterpillar to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the world’s greatest reserves of fresh water, and an expanding immigrant population. read more »
The inaugural edition of Enterprising Cities: A Force for Prosperity that was recently released examines best practices in municipalities taking proactive measures to support job creation and economic growth together with the private sector. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Enterprising States and Cities program takes an in-depth look at the policies and programs being implemented to promote economic growth at the state and local levels. read more »
The nation’s lackluster economic performance continues to be a concern. This is evident in stubbornly high unemployment rates (See: Suburban and Urban Core Poverty: 2012 Special Report),which continue to be well above historic norms. There is another indicator, which may be even more important – underemployment. read more »
Historically, progressives were seen as partisans for the people, eager to help the working and middle classes achieve upward mobility even at expense of the ultrarich. But in California, and much of the country, progressivism has morphed into a political movement that, more often than not, effectively squelches the aspirations of the majority, in large part to serve the interests of the wealthiest. read more »
Perhaps nothing is as critical to America’s future as the trajectory of the middle class and improving the prospects for upward mobility. With middle-class incomes stagnant or falling, we need to find a way to generate jobs for Americans who, though eager to work and willing to be trained, lack the credentials required to enter many of the most lucrative professions.
Mid-skilled jobs in areas such as manufacturing, construction and office administration — a category that pays between $14 and $21 an hour — can provide a decent standard of living, particularly if one has a spouse who also works, and even more so if a family lives in a relatively low-cost area. But mid-skilled employment is in secular decline, falling from 25% of the workforce in 1985 to barely 15% today. read more »
There is a lot of speculation that residential real estate markets are in a bubble. Certainly there is cause for concern: The rates of gains in prices over the past year are unsustainable, and a bit disturbing. We are seeing multiple offers on a huge percentage of homes that are sold, and buyers are racing to make offers.
Sustained strong real estate markets are usually driven by household formation, or an increase in the percentage of the population that owns a home. Neither is happening. read more »