Economics

Inside Sydney's Central Business District: the Retail Core

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World famous for its beautiful harbour setting, Sydney’s Central Business District is undergoing a resurgence. As the hub of Australia’s finance sector, it stumbled during the global crisis. Office vacancies jumped from 5.7 per cent in early 2008 to 8.8 per cent in mid 2009, despite stable supply. Ultimately, though, Sydney was spared the worst, owing to its rise as a staging post for trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, which averted the havoc of Europe and North America. Recovery is now underway, if slowly.  read more »

Listing the Best Places Lists: Perception Versus Reality

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Often best places lists reflect as much on what’s being measured, and who is being measured as on the inherent advantages of any locale.  Some cities that have grown rapidly in jobs, for example, often do not do as well if the indicator has more to do with perceived “quality” of employment.  read more »

Orlando: Uncle Sam Meets Mickey Mouse

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Hawks and doves disagree on whether World War II ended the Great Depression.  Depending on which species of bird squawks louder, military spending may be the only way out of our current financial malaise.  In many ways it is already happening, although it is a surreptitious and quiet influence felt mostly in the high-tech economic sector.  Defense growth in one of the most unlikely places – Orlando, Florida – has already begun to diversify the region’s income stream, create a new urban c  read more »

The Katrina Effect: Renaissance On The Mississippi

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In this most insipid of recoveries, perhaps the most hopeful story comes from New Orleans. Today, its comeback story could serve as a model of regional recovery for other parts of the country — and even the world.

You could call it the Katrina effect. A lovely city, rich in history, all too comfortable with its fading elegance and marred by huge pockets of third-world style poverty, suffers a catastrophic natural disaster; in the end the disaster turns into an opportunity for the area’s salvation.  read more »

Diagnosing New Inflation Symptoms

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It's been more than three years since the Great Recession began, and it's no longer debatable that the federal spending in its wake did not provoke inflation. Years of forecasts by fiscal conservatives about the result of government expenditures have proved to be wrong. After three fiscal stimulus packages, core inflation — which excludes the volatile prices of oil and commodities— remains very much in check. The core rate is the most reliable guide to future inflation, and it has not trended upward.

Headline inflation, however, the rate that does include these two, has increased. Is the recent uptick in gas and food prices a game-changer on inflation?  read more »

Chicago: Out of the Loop

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The “global city” is one of the dominant themes related to  urban success today.  In this model, cities serve both as huge agglomerations of top specialized talent and also as “control nodes” of the global economy serving as key sites for the production of financial and producer services demanded by the new globalized economy. In her seminal book on the subject, Saskia Sassen noted New York, London, and Tokyo as the paradigmatic examples of the global city.  read more »

Is The Information Industry Reviving Economies?

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For nearly a generation, the information sector, which comprises everything from media and data processing to internet-related businesses, has been ballyhooed as a key driver for both national and regional economic growth. In the 1990s economist Michael Mandell predicted cutting-edge industries like high-tech would create 2.8 million new jobs over 10 years.  This turned out to be something of a pipe dream.  read more »

Are We Unraveling?

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Is the fabric of society unraveling? That’s been a fear expressed throughout our history, and sometimes it has even been true (the Civil War comes to mind ). But our divisions have always healed over time. I would go so far as to say that nothing defines America more than its ability to absorb minority views, cultures, practices and peoples (a two-way street of acculturation by which outsiders are absorbed while the mainstream expands).   read more »

Queens, New York: Mr Bornstein's Neighborhood

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And most people who drive through blocks of industrial urban neighborhoods in Queens County, New York find them ugly, depressing, and sometimes dangerous. I spend a great deal of time in these kinds of neighborhoods, and to the shock and surprise of many - especially my close friends and family - I find them just as interesting and usually more exotic than the overly-planned communities touting the new urbanism popping up all over the country.  read more »

Manufacturing Stages A Comeback

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This year’s survey of the best cities for jobs contains one particularly promising piece of news: the revival of the country’s long distressed industrial sector and those regions most dependent on it. Manufacturing has grown consistently over the past 21 months, and now, for the first time in years, according to data mined by Pepperdine University’s Michael Shires, manufacturing regions are beginning to move up on our list of best cities for jobs.  read more »