Financial Crisis

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 »

The Myth of the Back-to-the-City Migration

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Pundits, planners and urban visionaries—citing everything from changing demographics, soaring energy prices, the rise of the so-called "creative class," and the need to battle global warming—have been predicting for years that America's love affair with the suburbs will soon be over. Their voices have grown louder since the onset of the housing crisis. Suburban neighborhoods, as the Atlantic magazine put it in March 2008, would morph into "the new slums" as people trek back to dense urban spaces.  read more »

G-20 Summit: There is No One Size Fits All

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There is one thing you need to remember as you listen to the debate about economic and fiscal policy at the G-20 Summit this weekend in Toronto: There is No One-Size-Fits All. There is not even a “One-Size-Fits Twenty.”

Back in 2001, I summarized the few things about finance and economics that most scholars agree will support a growing economy and healthy capital markets:  read more »

China’s Urban Challenge: Balancing Sustainable Economic Growth and Soaring Property Prices

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Today, Beijing seeks to balance strong economic growth and soaring prices amidst a severe global crisis and debt turmoil in advanced economies. The challenge is colossal – to provide urban space for more than 600 million people in the coming decades.

For months, the famous hedge fund wizard, James Chanos, has been predicting a severe Chinese property slump. As he puts it, “Dubai times 1,000 – or worse,” with the “potential to be a similar watershed event for world markets as the reversal of the U.S. subprime and housing boom.”  read more »

Stimulus, Spending and Animal Spirits: How to Grow the Economy

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The most fanatical Keynesians are losing their composure. Brad DeLong, a prominent Berkeley economist and Keynesian, is virtually yelling that “We Need Bigger Deficits Now!”, emphasis his. Paul Krugman does DeLong one better, calling proponents of fiscal responsibility madmen.  read more »

Time to Dismantle the American Dream?

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For some time, theorists have been suggesting that it is time to redefine the American Dream of home ownership. Households, we are told, should live in smaller houses, in more crowded neighborhoods and more should rent. This thinking has been heightened by the mortgage crisis in some parts of the country, particularly in areas where prices rose most extravagantly in the past decade. And to be sure, many of the irrational attempts – many of them government sponsored – to expand ownership to those not financially prepared to bear the costs need to curbed.  read more »