Back in the 1950s when I was growing up, pundits worried a lot about automation and the problem of leisure in a post-industrial society. What were the American people going to do once machinery had relieved them of the daily burden of routine labor? Would they paint pictures and write poetry? Armchair intellectuals found it hard to imagine.
It was the age of Ozzie and Harriet, when ordinary working and middle-class families could aspire to a house in the suburbs and a full-time Mom who stays at home with the kids. Today, of course, that popular version of the American dream is a thing of the past, especially the part about a full-time Mom who stays at home with the kids. read more »
Like many on Main Street Paul Goodpaster is angry. Paul is my banker friend in Morehead, a retail, medical and education hub on the edge of eastern Kentucky. He observed that his bank was doing quite well – albeit hurt now by rising unemployment and an economy starting to have an impact even on those unglamorous places that had minded their business well. read more »
Back in the 1980s, Citibank CEO John S. Reed looked at the bank’s earnings and said, more or less: This is really a credit card company with six other lines of business. That is, the card portfolio was making lots of dough, and carrying the rest. Commercial lending, real estate lending, clearing, foreign exchange, branch banking — all of them were flat or losing money, while the card business was cooking. read more »
When it comes to the state of the economy, is the worst behind us or still to come? Informed opinion is all over the map. The optimists are citing such factors as accommodative Federal Reserve Bank policy (massively increased liquidity), bank profitability (and yes, banks are lending, but only quality loans), money velocity (trending up), a positive yield curve (long-term vs. short-term rates), housing starts (surging), favorable financial rule changes (abandonment of mark-to-market accounting, reinstatement of the short uptick rule to prevent naked short-selling), retail sales (recovering), commodity prices (rising due to increased industrial demand), used car prices (firming), and new vehicle sales (rising off their sickening lows). read more »
Every downturn comes to an end. Recovery has followed every recession including the Great Depression. In 1932, John D. Rockefeller said, "These are days when many are discouraged. In the 93 years of my life, depressions have come and gone. Prosperity has always returned and will again." The question is not ”IF”, rather it is “WHEN” recovery will begin. The age-old question remains: what can government do to get the nation out of recession?
Government can act wisely. In the past, it used tax legislation (the mortgage interest deduction) to create the highest home ownership rate in the industrialized world. It can also act stupidly by promoting “Sub-Prime” mortgages, “105%” financing and the “No-Doc” loan that got us into this financial mess. As many as 4.4 million more Americans could lose their homes – unless drastic action is taken to stop the process. read more »
General Motors' reorganization and contemplated bankruptcy represents one possible – and dismal – future trajectory for American manufacturing.
Unlike highly favored Wall Street, which now employs fancy financial footwork to report a return to profitability, the nation's industrial core is increasingly marginalized by an administration that appears anxious to embrace a decidedly post-industrial future. read more »
Americans have their “American Dream” of home ownership. Australians go one step further. They have a “Great Australian Dream” of home ownership. This was all part of a culture that celebrated its egalitarian ethos. Yet, to an even greater degree than in the United States, the “Dream” is in the process of being extinguished. It all started and is the worst in Sydney.
Sydney is Australia’s largest urban area, having passed Melbourne in the last half of the 19th century. With an urban area population of approximately 3.6 million, Sydney leads Melbourne by nearly 300,000. read more »
What does urban success look like? Ask people around the country and they’ll probably say it looks something like Chicago.
Arguably no American city over the past decade has experienced a greater urban core renaissance than Chicago. It is a city totally transformed. The skyline has been radically enhanced as dozens of skyscrapers were added to the greater downtown area. Millennium Park opened as a $475 million community showplace full of cutting edge contemporary architecture and art. There has been an explosion in upscale dining and shopping options, as well as large numbers of new art galleries, hotels, clubs and restaurants. read more »
By Richard Reep
During most business downturns, nimble private business owners search for countercyclical industries to which they adapt. During this business downturn, the construction industry finds itself frantically looking for anything countercyclical. Private construction, almost completely driven by the credit market, has stopped, and public construction, driven by tax revenue, has also stalled. Religious institutions, however, seem to be continuing incremental growth and building programs, giving evidence to some people’s answers to spiritual questions being asked today. read more »
In the quest to sufficiently reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it is crucial to “get the numbers right.” Failure to do so would, in all probability, mean that the desired reductions will not be achieved. Regrettably, much of what is being proposed is not based upon any comprehensive quantitative analysis, but is rather rooted in anti-suburban dogma. read more »