Economics

Portland Downtown Devastated by COVID

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The number of people working in downtown Portland dropped from more than 103,000 in mid-2019 to 13,000 in mid-2020, according to a State of the Economy report recently published by the Portland Business Alliance. The report doesn’t actually show numbers, but the chart below, which I took from the report, can be used to make pretty close estimates.  read more »

Flyover Country Needs to Keep Our Biggest Edge: Housing Affordability

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If there’s one location advantage for the heartland that’s become clear during the last several years, it’s the edge we enjoy over the coasts in housing affordability.  read more »

Does California Know What Time it Is?

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Has the California proposition changed fundamentally? And does it matter for real estate?

The answer to the first question is yes—the state had a net population decline in 2021, the first drop since it began annual counts more than a century ago.  read more »

You Can't Fix the Housing Crisis with New Houses. We Need New Cities

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Housing is rapidly becoming the key economic issue facing America's beleaguered middle class. Even as interest rates rise, rents are on a wild binge, up near 20 percent in the past year or more in some cities. Meanwhile, home prices have hit a high and appear to be climbing further still. Higher prices are emerging even in what have long been relative bargain communities in the southeast, as refugees from the high-priced Northeast pour in with their greater resources.  read more »

Exurbia Rising

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Perhaps nowhere is the gap between America’s cognitive elite and its populace larger than in their preferred urban forms. For nearly a century—interrupted only by the Depression and the Second World War—Americans have been heading further from the urban core, seeking affordable and safe communities with good schools, parks, and a generally more tranquil lifestyle.  read more »

Domestic Migration 2010-2020: Flocking to Affordability

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Some metropolitan areas continue to have higher costs of living relative to the national average. The most important component is the extent to which higher housing costs contribute to these differences. Our Urban Reform Institute Standard of Living Index showed that more than 85% of the difference between costs in the more expensive metropolitan areas and the nation was attributable to housing (Figure 1).  read more »

The Tech Breakdown

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The record meltdown of Meta stock earlier this month suggests turbulence in the tech world and a difficult period ahead for the company formerly known as Facebook. But even as Meta’s stock has fallen, the record profits being posted by fellow oligarchical tech firms Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon indicates that Silicon Valley’s hegemony is far from over.  read more »

The Evolving Geography of Opportunity: Leading Cities of the Past, Present, and Future

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Cities which rise up as centers of prosperity and opportunity are places that ensure an emphasis on learning and innovation, a culture of openness to newcomers and unorthodox ideas, a favorable environment for commerce, a relatively good quality of life for residents, and a strong sense of shared community. The geography of opportunity is always evolving, as some cities emerge as centers of opportunity while others decline, with enormous consequences for people, places, and, indeed, civilizations.  read more »

Are We Really Among the Wealthiest People on the Planet?

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There are lots of ways of measuring how New Zealand is doing, and none of them is perfect.

We stack up very well on measures like life expectancy, unemployment, infant mortality, and car ownership.  read more »

The Zaibatsu-ization of America

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Enthusiasts of “the new economy” long cherished the notion that it would be different from the unenlightened, sluggish, and piggish older one. Yet our economy seems increasingly to resemble not some hippy capitalist utopia, but the deeply concentrated economy of pre-war Japan.  read more »