Middle Class

Why North Dakota Is Booming

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Living on the harsh, wind-swept northern Great Plains, North Dakotans lean towards the practical in economic development. Finding themselves sitting on prodigious pools of oil—estimated by the state's Department of Mineral Resources at least 4.3 billion barrels—they are out drilling like mad. And the state is booming.  read more »

Are Chinese Ready to Rent?

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In 2010 “House price” ranked third on the list of the top 10 most popular phrases used by Chinese netizens. It came to no one's surprise. In most Chinese cities housing prices have increased significantly over the past decade, with an especially sharp rise over the past three years.  read more »

California’s Demographic Dilemma: A Class And Culture Clash

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The newly released Census reports reveal that California faces a profound gap between the cities where people are moving to and the cities that hold all the political power. It is a tale that divides the state between its coastal metropolitan regions that dominate the state’s politics — particularly the San Francisco Bay Area, but also Los Angeles — and its still-growing, largely powerless interior regions.  read more »

The Protean Future Of American Cities

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The ongoing Census reveals the continuing evolution of America’s cities from small urban cores to dispersed, multi-polar regions that includes the city’s surrounding areas and suburbs. This is not exactly what most urban pundits, and journalists covering cities, would like to see, but the reality is there for anyone who reads the numbers.  read more »

From the Great Moderation to the Great Stagnation

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For much of the past decade, I was a proponent of the thesis that that the American economy had entered a “great moderation,” where expansions lasted longer and recessions were fewer, shorter and milder. Productivity had seemingly reached a permanently high plateau; inflation seemed tamed. The spreading of financial risk, across institutions and around the world, seemed to have reduced the odds of a crisis.  read more »

Sputnik Moments, Spending Cuts, and (Remember These?) Jobs

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The stand-off in Washington over spending reductions has pushed aside serious discussion about a far more pressing issue:  job creation.

Granted, the country is long overdue for action on spending cuts. There is much that our government does that we can live without. Bureaucracies’ programmatic lassitude and congressional appropriators’ adolescent-like lack of discipline have contributed to our nation’s fiscal imbalance.  read more »

Chicago Takes a Census Shellacking

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The Census results are out for Illinois, and it's bad news for the city of Chicago, whose population plunged by over 200,000 people to 2,695,598, its lowest population since before 1920.  This fell far short of what would have been predicted given the 2009 estimate of 2,851,268. It's a huge negative surprise of over 150,000, though perhaps one that should have been anticipated given the unexpectedly weak numbers for the state as a whole that were released in December.  read more »

A Leg Up: World's Largest Cities No Longer Homes of Upward Mobility

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Throughout much of history, cities have served as incubators for upward mobility. A great city, wrote René Descartes in the 17th century, was “an inventory of the possible,” a place where people could lift their families out of poverty and create new futures. In his time, Amsterdam was that city, not just for ambitious Dutch peasants and artisans but for people from all over Europe. Today, many of the world’s largest cities, in both the developed and the developing world, are failing to serve this aspirational function.  read more »

China Housing Market More Stable Than You May Think

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The sensationalist reporting of rising China tends to celebrate the country’s ascent. But there is one area where both economists and casual observers see a potential disaster: the real estate market.  Media reports of skyrocketing housing prices in first tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai and photo essays of Chinese ‘ghost cities’ inject sober skepticism into the otherwise bewildering reality of rapid growth.  read more »

Why Duany is Wrong About the Importance of Public Participation

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One of the news stories circling lately is an interview with Andres Duany where he asserts that public participation requirements are too onerous to enable great work to be done.   Early in my career I worked as a public historian and historic preservation specialist, so rather than launch immediately into my opinion, let me tell you a true story.  read more »