Policy

The Fate of America’s Homebuilders: The Changing Landscape of America

iStock_000000877325XSmall.jpg

During the first ten days of October 2008, the Dow Jones dropped 2,399.47 points, losing 22.11% of its value and trillions of investor equity. The Federal Government pushed a $700 billion bail-out through Congress to rescue the beleaguered financial institutions. The collapse of the financial system in the fall of 2008 was likened to an earthquake. In reality, what happened was more like a shift of tectonic plates.

History will record that the tectonic plates of our financial world began to drift apart in the fall of 2008. The scale of this change may be most evident in housing.

PART TWO – THE HOME BUILDERS  read more »

State of the Economy June 2009

iStock_000008650446XSmall.jpg

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman was quoted widely for saying that the official recession will end this summer. Before you get overly excited, keep in mind that the recession he’s calling the end of started officially in December 2007. Now ask yourself this: when did you notice that the economy was in recession? Six months after it started? One year?  read more »

Britain's Labour Lessons For Obama

iStock_000005059526XSmall.jpg

LONDON - The thrashing of Britain's New Labour Party – which came in a weak third in local and European Parliament elections this week – may seem a minor event compared to Barack Obama's triumphal overseas tour. Yet in many ways the humiliation of New Labour should send some potential warning shots across the bow of the good ship Obama.  read more »

Painting the Town White: Technology and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

iStock_000007441413XSmall.jpg

“Paint the world white to fight global warming” was the astonishing headline from The Times of London. The paper was referring to a presentation made by United States Secretary of Energy, Dr. Stephen Chu at the St. James Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium last week. Chu was reported as saying that that this approach could have a vast impact.  read more »

Salinas and Self-Governance

Steinbeck House Salinas iStock_000001040695XSmall.jpg

“Man is the only kind of varmint who sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it.” — John Steinbeck

Though probably not intended as a political commentary, Steinbeck’s utterance perfectly describes the current California budget crisis. And, given the revenue and service delivery relationship between cities and the state, traps can be set and baited in Sacramento, leaving mayors, city councils and city managers to step in them.  read more »

San Jose, California: Bustling Metropolis or Bedroom Community?

iStock_000006140620XSmall.jpg

Dionne Warwick posed the question more than 40 years ago, yet most Americans still don’t know ‘The way to San Jose’. Possessing neither the international cachet of San Francisco nor the notoriety of Oakland, San Jose continues to fly under the national radar in comparison to its Bay Area compatriots. Even with its self-proclaimed status as the ‘Heart of Silicon Valley’, many would be hard pressed to locate San Jose on a map of California.  read more »

Project Development: Regulation and Roulette

Wheel of Bankruptcy.jpg

The site plan logically should be the key to approval of a development project. Yet in reality, the plan is secondary to the presentation. My conclusions are based upon experience with well over a thousand developments over four decades, most in the mainland USA. And what I’ve observed is that the best site plan is only as good as the presentation that will convince the council or planning commission to vote “Yes” on it. No “yes” vote, no deal, no development.  read more »

Portland: A Model for National Policy?

portlandrowhouses.jpg

United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Washington Post columnist George Will have been locked in debate over transit. Will called LaHood the “Secretary of Behavior Modification” for his policies intended to reduce car use, citing Portland’s strong transit and land use planning measures as a model for the nation.  read more »

Frontrunning and Finance: Left Foot Forward

shoes- leftfoot forward.jpg

This month, the Obama administration moved to regulate the so-called ‘invisible’ financial instruments that have come to rule the world of finance. Variations of the ‘shadow’ banking system — or, in the preferred language of financiers, market ‘risk management tools’ — have increasingly taken the spotlight during the current crises.  read more »

Can California Make A Comeback?

iStock_000001823153XSmall.jpg

These are times that thrill some easterners' souls. However bad things might be on Wall Street or Beacon Hill, there's nothing more pleasing to Atlantic America than the whiff of devastation on the other coast.

And to be sure, you can make a strong case that the California dream is all but dead. The state is effectively bankrupt, its political leadership discredited and the economy, with some exceptions, doing considerably worse than most anyplace outside Michigan. By next year, suggests forecaster Bill Watkins, unemployment could nudge up towards an almost Depression-like 15%.  read more »