Commercial Real Estate: Shrinking to Fit

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We are going to need less commercial real estate in the future, at least on a per-unit-of-population basis. Advances in communications technology are causing profound and sometimes unanticipated changes in our lives.

Retail Markets
The coming change is most obvious in retail markets. Americans are increasingly shopping online. However, we’ve really just started to scratch the surface. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2009 E-Stats report issued in May, 2011, E-commerce only accounted for 3.99 percent of U.S. retail sales in 2009.  read more »

A Detailed Look at Workforce Skill Shortages


As the United States continues to fight its way out of the Great Recession, more attention has been directed to the question of why is has taken so long for workers to find re-employment. In economist parlance, this is primarily a question of “structural unemployment.” This describes the type of unemployment that results from a mismatch of worker skills and the skills demanded by employers.  read more »



The price of bananas is again making headlines as it pushes up inflation and threatens rising interest rates. But what’s the price of the humble ‘nana got to do with property markets? Plenty.

Banana prices have risen almost 500% since Cyclone Yasi wiped out much of north Queensland’s banana crop earlier this year. The immutable laws of supply and demand dictate that when supply falls relative to demand, prices will rise.  read more »

Things They Don't Tell You About GDP


I was watching Book TV on C-SPAN last week and I came upon Mr. Ha-Joon Chang talking about his book “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.” For example, Thing #1 is “there is no such thing as a free market.” I actually use this line in my finance and economics courses.  read more »


How Los Angeles Lost Its Mojo


Los Angeles today is a city in secular decline. Its current political leadership seems determined to turn the sprawling capitalist dynamo into a faux New York. But they are more likely to leave behind a dense, government-dominated, bankrupt, dysfunctional, Athens by the Pacific.

The greatness of Los Angeles stemmed from its willingness to be different. Unlike Chicago or Denver or New York, the Los Angeles metro area was designed not around a central core but on a series of centers, connected first by railcars and later by the freeways. The result was a dispersed metropolis where most people occupied single-family houses in middle-class neighborhoods.  read more »

India Conquers the World


From the exclusive Club Lounge on the 19th floor of Singapore’s Mandarin Oriental, Anish Lalvani gazes out at the city’s skyline, a dazzling array of glass and steel and vertical ambition. The Lalvani family has come a long way since the days when Anish’s paternal grandfather, Tirath Singh Lalvani, got his start in business by retailing medicines to King George VI’s soldiers in Karachi. Back then the city was a part of British colonial India—until independence arrived in 1947, and its inhabitants suddenly found themselves amid the bloody turmoil of the newborn Pakistan.  read more »

Citizen Bloomberg - How Our New York Mayor has Given Us the Business


This piece originally appeared in the Village Voice.

After a charmed first decade in politics, Mayor Mike Bloomberg is mired in his first sustained losing streak.

His third term has been shaky, marked by the Snowpocalypse, the snowballing CityTime scandal, the backlash to Cathie Black and "government by cocktail party," and the rejection by Governor Andrew Cuomo of his plan to change how public-school teachers are hired and fired. With just a couple more years left in office, Bloomberg is starting to look every one of his 70 years.

Soon, he'll be just another billionaire.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Chicago


Looks can be deceiving. No downtown area in the western world outside Manhattan is more visually impressive than Chicago. Both the historic Loop and the newer development north of the Chicago River, especially along North Michigan Avenue have some of the most iconic structures outside of emerging Asia. Yet these vertical monuments mask a less celebrated reality: that of dispersing, low density urban area.  read more »

A Most Undemocratic Recovery


Unemployment over nine percent, the highest rate this far into a “recovery” in modern times, reflects only the surface of our problems. More troubling is that over six million American have been unemployed for more than six months, the largest number since the Census began tracking their numbers. The pool of “missing workers” – those neither employed nor counted as unemployed – has soared to over 4.4 million, according to the left-of-center Economic Policy Institute.  read more »

America’s Burgeoning Class War Could Spell Opportunity For GOP


Last week’s disappointing job reports, with unemployment rising above 9%, only reinforced an emerging reality that few politicians, in either party, are ready to address. American society is becoming feudalized, with increasingly impregnable walls between the classes. This is ironic for a nation largely defined by its opportunity for upward mobility and fluid class structure.  read more »