Economics

Concentrated Wealth or Democracy, but Not Both

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In many uncomfortable ways, American politics now resemble those that arose late in the Roman Republic. As wealth and land ownership concentrated in few hands, a state built on the discipline of soldiers who tended their own farms became ever more dominated by fractious oligarchs. As property consolidated into huge slave-owning estates, more citizens became landless and ever more dependent on the patronage of the rich generals and landowners who increasingly seized control of politics.  read more »

America's New Brainpower Cities

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Brainpower rankings usually identify the usual suspects: college towns like Boston, Washington, D.C.,  and the San Francisco Bay area. And to be sure, these places generally have the highest per capita education levels. However, it’s worthwhile to look at the metro areas that are gaining college graduates most rapidly; this is an indicator of momentum that is likely to carry over into the future.  read more »

Good Jobs Often Not Matter of Degrees

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If there's anything both political parties agree upon, it's that our education system is a mess. It is particularly poor at serving the vast majority of young people who are unlikely either to go to an elite school or get an advanced degree in some promising field, particularly in the sciences and engineering.  read more »

The Part-Time, Freelance, Collaborative Economy

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Are we becoming a part-time economy? Maybe. A collaborative economy? Possibly. A freelance economy? Definitely. Here's the evidence:

The Part-Time Economy- Involuntary part-time work is at a historic high, and the workforce participation rate is at a near-historic low. The number of unemployed people is higher, and the number of jobs in the economy is lower, than five years ago. During this weak recovery, more people have left the workforce than have started a new job, and a high percentage of the jobs that are being created are low-wage and part-time.  read more »

Subjects:

Era of the Migrant Moguls

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Southern California, once the center of one of the world's most vibrant business communities, has seen its economic leadership become largely rudderless. Business interests have been losing power for decades, as organized labor, ethnic politicians, green activists, intrusive planners, crony developers and local NIMBYs have slowly supplanted the leaders of major corporations and industries, whose postures have become, at best, defensive.  read more »

The Great Skills Gap Myth

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One of the great memes out there in trying to diagnose persistently high unemployment and anemic job growth during what is still, I argue, the Great Recession is the so-called “skills gap”. The idea here is that the fact that there are millions of unfilled job openings at the same time millions of people can’t find work can be chalked up to a lack of a skills match between unemployed workers an open positions.  read more »

Taking the Main Street Off-ramp

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To some, the $19 billion paid by Facebook for the Silicon Valley start-up What's App represents the ultimate confirmation of the capitalist dream. After all, these riches are going first and foremost to plucky engineers whose goals are simply to make life better for the public. Got a problem with that?  read more »

East of Egan: Success in California is Not Evenly Distributed

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The New York Times ran a Timothy Egan editorial on California on March 6.  The essay entitled Jerry Brown's Revenge was reverential towards our venerable Governor.  It did, however, fall short of declaring Brown a miracle worker, as the Rolling Stone did last August.  These and other articles are part of an adoring press's celebratory spasm occasioned by the facts that California has a budget surplus and has had a run of strong job growth.  read more »

Deutschland on the Pacific?

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California and Germany may not immediately come to mind as a doppelganger, but they do share several characteristics, particularly when it comes to their attitudes toward energy production and consumption.

Both “States” have large populations which seem to agree that the world will be a better place if renewable sources of energy are given precedence over hydrocarbon based options in powering their economies.  read more »

Bubble Trouble in Silicon Valley

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Third-generation venture capitalist Tim Draper believes he has a solution for California's problems that will make the Silicon Valley safe for its wealthy: secession. In a recent interview, Draper suggested that California be divided into six states, including one dominated by the Valley and its urban annex, San Francisco.  read more »