Economics

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 »

Boeing’s Long Shadow

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The recent wrangling over decisions on where to build the next version of Boeing’s 777 has left a residue of bitterness and rancor around the Puget Sound region. Were the Machinists forced to give too much? Were the taxpayers squeezed too far? While views will differ on those questions, one thing is clear: jobs lost at Boeing are very difficult, if not impossible to replace.  read more »

Drought Stokes California's Class War

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As all the Californians who celebrated the deluge of rain that fell the week before last know, it did not do much to ameliorate the state’s deep drought. We are likely to enter our traditionally dry spring, summer and fall in a crisis likely to exacerbate the ever greater estrangement between the state’s squabbling regions and classes.  read more »

High Tech Leaves NYC Behind

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Is New York City ready to contest in high-tech against Silicon Valley? Fuggedaboutit.

Gotham is so far behind in every conceivable measurement — from engineering prowess to employment and venture funding — that even the idea is somewhat ludicrous.

While Madison Alley has marketed the city’s tech prowess before, going back to when owners of lower Manhattan real estate promoted “Silicon Alley,” the action has been elsewhere.  read more »

Urban Planning 101

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Former World Bank principal planner Alain Bertaud has performed an important service that should provide a much needed midcourse correction to urban planning around the world. Bertaud returns to the fundamentals in his "Cities as Labor Markets."  read more »