Oregon Fail: With Hard Times Ahead for Business and Real Estate, It's Time to Look Small


There is something about Oregon that ignites something close to poetic inspiration, even among the most level-headed types. When I asked Hank Hoell recently about the state, he waxed on about hiking the spectacular Cascades, the dreamy coastal towns and the rich farmlands of the green Willamette Valley.

"Oregon," enthused Hoell, president of LibertyBank, the state's largest privately owned bank, from his office in Eugene, "is America's best-kept secret. If quality of life matters at all, Oregon has it in spades. It is as good as it gets. It's just superb."  read more »

The Recession: Fuzzy Thinking Delays A Recovery

brainwaves; blue.iStock_000002003092XSmall.jpg

I keep hearing how the current recession will end in 2010 because the average United States recession from 1854 to 2001 has been 17 months. This is silly for a variety of reasons.

One reason is that there is no average recession. Post-World War II recessions have lasted from a minimum of six months to a maximum of only 16 months. If we were to apply the “average recession” logic to post World War II recessions, the current recession, which the NBER — the National Bureau of Economic Research — says started December 2007, would have ended 10 months later, last October.  read more »

Dubai, Mumbai, Shanghai : Destiny or Hype?


The assonant phrase “Dubai, Mumbai, Shanghai or Goodbye” was credited to Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times in late 2007 at the beginning of the financial crisis on Wall Street. For years, New York, London and Tokyo held sway as the world’s financial capitals. Then the tectonic plates of the financial world began to move and these new cities were going to be the prime beneficiaries.  read more »

Industry And The Urge To Cluster


What drives industry to locate in one region and not in the next?

Economic geography – the distribution of economic activity over physical space – has always been central to economic development. Policy-makers trying to encourage economic activity to locate in under-developed regions want answers: Is it infrastructure? Fiscal incentives? Good business environment? Or could it be agglomeration – the compounding effect of industry clustering in a particular location?  read more »

Stimulus Plan Caters to the Privileged Public Sector


Call it the Paulson Principle, Part Deux.

Under the now thankfully-departed Treasury secretary, we got the first bailout for the undeserving – essentially, members of his own Wall Street class.

Now comes the Democratic codicil to the P. Principle. It's a massive bailout and expansion of the public-sector workforce as well as quasi-government workers in fields like health and education.  read more »

Wisconsin Checks Out The Finland Club


Our Central Wisconsin delegation journeyed to Finland in October, 2008. We definitely learned a few lessons that we’ll apply here at home, with the hope of moving our ability to compete globally to a much higher level.

“Finland is not a country, it is a club” stated one of the many presenters we heard during our study tour. This perspective of how Finns see themselves says something valuable about what they believe it will take for them to compete in the changing global economy: a whole lot of cooperation, strong relationships and inter-connectedness!  read more »

Seattle Joins the Recession


At the time of the election, less than 3 months ago, Seattle seemed to be riding above the fray, escaping the worst features of the recession, such as mass layoffs, even despite weakness in the housing market. Seattle area voters even approved a series of huge tax measures, including $30 billion for rail rapid transit, befitting what folks here like to consider a world-class city.

The story recently is much more somber, reeling somewhat from a series of high-level hits to the economy.  read more »

Reviving the City of Aspiration: A Study of the Challenges Facing New York City's Middle Class


For much of its history, New York City has thrived as a place that both sustained a large middle class and elevated countless people from poorer backgrounds into the ranks of the middle class. The city was never cheap and parts of Manhattan always remained out of reach, but working people of modest means—from forklift operators and bus drivers to paralegals and museum guides—could enjoy realistic hopes of home ownership and a measure of economic security as they raised their families across the other four boroughs.  read more »

New York Should End Its Obsession With Manhattan


Over the past two years, I have had many opportunities to visit my ancestral home, New York, as part of a study out later this week by the Center for an Urban Future about the city's middle class. Often enough, when my co-author, Jonathan Bowles, and I asked about this dwindling species, the first response was "What middle class?"

Well, here is the good news. Despite Mayor Bloomberg's celebration of "the luxury city," there's still a middle class in New York, although not in the zip codes close to hizzoner's townhouse. These middle-class enclaves are as diverse as the city. Some are heavily ethnic, others packed with arty types, many of them more like suburbia than traditionally urban.  read more »

Cleveland, Part II: Re-Constructing the Comeback

iStock_000003832573XSmallCuyahoga River.jpg

Yesterday, in Part I, I talked about how, despite the Cleveland region’s significant assets, the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s strategy is failing to transform its economy. Today I’ll focus on the strategy’s five weaknesses, and how to fix them.

First: The Wrong Approach To Achieving Scale  read more »