Middle Class

Is That an Economic Light at the End of the Tunnel or an Oncoming Train?

iStock_000001657465XSmall.jpg

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 »

Can Eddie Mac Solve the Housing Crisis?

iStock_000003155491XSmall.jpg

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 »

We Must Remember Manufacturing

iStock_000004302624XSmall.jpg

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 »

Sydney: From World City to “Sick Man” of Australia

sydneyhouse.png

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?

iStock_000003018618XSmall.jpg

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 »

Can Sacred Space Revive the American City?

Salem-Lutheran.png

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 »

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Reality: Residential Emissions

iStock_000008421441XSmall.jpg

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 »

The American Suburb Is Bouncing Back

iStock_000006973675XSmall.jpg

From the very inception of the current downturn, sprawling places like southeast California's Inland Empire have been widely portrayed as the heart of darkness. Located on the vast flatlands east of Los Angeles, the region of roughly 3 million people has suffered one of the highest rates of foreclosures and surges in unemployment in the nation.  read more »

Slumdog Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship Holds Key for India’s Slums

iStock_000006937188XSmall.jpg

The stealth Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire, the Indian fable of love, heartbreak and overcoming the odds set against the backdrop of one of the world’s biggest urban slums has won fans all over the advanced industrial world – but may be less popular in India.  read more »

From Bush's Cowboy to Obama's Collusive Capitalism

Barack_Obama_&_Timothy_Geithner_announce.jpg

Race may be the thing that most obviously distinguishes President Barack Obama from his predecessors, but his biggest impact may be in transforming the nature of class relations — and economic life — in the United States.

In basic terms, the president is overseeing a profound shift from cowboy to what may be best described as collusive capitalism. This form of capitalism rejects the essential free-market theology embraced by the cowboys, supplanting it with a more managed, highly centralized form of cohabitation between the government apparat and the economic elite.  read more »