Financial Crisis

Cruising Into Student Debt

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I once calculated that, for the cost of four years of education at a private American university, a student could take 105 cruises around the world. For the comparison, I chose only cruises that cost about $1,900, as who wants to go through college stuck with an inside cabin? As I imagine it, Cruise College (school motto: “Go Overboard on Learning”) even has some similarities to the landlocked undergraduate experience.
For all I know it may exist, given that higher education is one of the few growth sectors in the U.S. economy.

Despite the decline of American business, private colleges, state universities, night schools, and for-profit continuing education have boomed.

Harvard College will get about 30,000 applications for the 1,700 places in next year’s freshman class. At the same time, there's a strong demand for education at community  read more »

Health Care: Booster Shot for Jobs?

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As a former health care human resources executive, I'm often drawn to the local hospital in whatever city I'm visiting. A city's health care environment reflects its social, cultural and economic state. Because the local medical center complex is often the largest employer in town, it would seem that strong fiscal returns would be rewarded to those cities that strategically aligned their economic development efforts to capitalize on growing this sector.  read more »

The Tea Party and The Great Deconstruction

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Some say a Second American Revolution has begun. In the first American Revolution, American militiamen at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, fired the Shot Heard Round the World at British Redcoats on April 19, 1775.

The Shot Heard Round the World in the Second American Revolution was the surprise election of Scott Brown, again in Massachusetts, on January 19, 2010. The bullets fired were ballots as a Tea Party-backed candidate captured the “Kennedy seat” in the US Senate.  read more »

Why Housing Will Come Back

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Few icons of the American way of life have suffered more in recent years than  homeownership. Since the bursting of the housing bubble, there has been a steady drumbeat from the factories of futurist punditry that the notion of owning a home will, and, more importantly, should become out of reach for most Americans.  read more »

Time to Hate Those HOAs (again).

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The foreclosure crisis has been devastating for millions of Americans, but it has also impacted many still working as before and holding on to their homes. Even a couple of empty dwellings on a street can very quickly deteriorate and become a negative presence in the neighborhood, at the least driving down prices further, sometimes attracting crime. Untended pools can allow pests to breed. Many animals have been abandoned and shelters report overflowing traffic.  read more »

The Disappearance of the Next Middle Class

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Every week we read that yet another major housing project has been turned down by the Courts here in New Zealand because of the need to protect "rural character" or "natural landscapes". This may well have profound short and long-term consequences for the future of our middle class, as it does for the same class in countries around the advanced world.

Every week a multitude of smaller developers abandon their projects because Councils’ compliance costs and development contributions make the projects unviable – even if the land were free. And it’s not.  read more »

Flexible Forecasting: Looking for the Next Economic Model

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Last autumn I gave a talk in California's San Fernando Valley. I was the last of three economists speaking that day, and I watched the other economists’ presentations, each a rosy forecast of recovery and imminent prosperity. So, I was a bit nervous when it was my turn to speak, because I had a forecast of extended malaise. People don’t like to hear bad news, and they do blame the messenger. In the end, I was relieved. No tomatoes, no catcalls.

That’s how things went last fall and winter. Many economists confidently predicted a rapid recovery, while my group’s forecasts were pretty dismal: weak economic growth with little if any job creation. Today, many of those same economists’ forecasts are far closer to ours. Why?  read more »

Ownership Subsidies: Dream Homes or Disasters?

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Home ownership has been considered an integral part of the American Dream for as long as anyone can remember. Now it has come under scrutiny, notably in a June Wall Street Journal piece by Richard Florida, which claims that that home ownership reduces employment opportunities for young adults, since it limits their mobility.  read more »

How Obama Lost Small Business

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Financial reform might irk Wall Street, but the president’s real problem is with small businesses—the engine of any serious recovery. Joel Kotkin on what he could have done differently.  read more »

Economics: Green Shoots & Immigration

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A year ago we were hearing all about green shoots. Analysts claimed to find them everywhere.

Today, we never see the term. In fact, there seems to be a growing malaise. By the end of June the first quarter’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimate was revised downward a full half a percent, to 2.7 percent. Pundits are depressed.  read more »