From the Great Moderation to the Great Stagnation


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 »

Can Common Sense, and maybe Mickey, Save Orlando’s Transit Mess?


The week’s debate about high-speed rail has once again polarized our populace, inflamed irrationality, and sent everyone back to their familiar corners.  Little constructive debate is possible when major newspapers are flailing the governor for rejecting money and the seemingly global revolutionary fervor is gripping local citizens who rallied in protest Wednesday night around downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola.  None of this will do any good for the service workers trying to get to their jobs in the theme parks or for downtown cube dwellers streaming to scattered office parks.  read more »

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


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 »

The Millennial Mosaic


Esperanza Spalding, winner of the best new artist award at this year’s Grammys, personifies the ethnic trends reshaping America.  She is a fresh-faced 27-year old jazz bassist whose very name portrays her mixed ethnic and racial heritage as the daughter of an African-American father and a Hispanic, Welsh, Native American mother. Spalding first gained her deep interest in music watching French-born Chinese American classical cellist Yo Yo Ma on “Sesame Street,” a TV program that has perhaps contributed to ethnic acculturation in the U.S. as much as any other institution.  read more »

Britain's Housing Crisis: Causes and Solutions


British house construction has remained at a low level for a decade.   Total new house and flat completions for all tenures last year were 113,670 for England, 17,470 for Scotland, and 6,170 for Wales. Excluding Northern Ireland that is 137,310 for Britain. Under 140,000 homes a year is low for a nation of 60 million.

We are nearly at the lowest level of housing production since reliable records began in the 1920s. (Note 1)    read more »

Obama’s High-Speed Rail Obsession


Perhaps nothing so illustrates President Obama’s occasional disconnect with reality than his fervent advocacy of high-speed rail. Amid mounting pressure for budget cuts that affect existing programs, including those for the inner city, the president has made his $53 billion proposal to create a national high-speed rail network as among his top priorities.  read more »

Why Duany is Wrong About the Importance of Public Participation


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 »

Brown’s California Budget Proposals: a Big Step in the Right Direction


I admit it. I had low expectations for Jerry Brown’s third term as governor. After seeing his budget proposal, I’m ready to reconsider my expectations. I think it is a great effort, and it deserves the support of all of us tired of seeing our state reduced to laughing stock.  read more »

The Social Side of the Internet


Is success in social networking measured by the number of “Friends” you have on Facebook, or “Followers” you have on Twitter, or “Connections” you make on LinkedIn? 

The jury is still out on how social media and social networking will ultimately play out, but new research shows real benefits are being realized from it.  read more »

The Death of Earmarks


Record deficit spending in Washington has many faces: Defense, Medicare, Social Security. But none has received more criticism in recent months than the infamous and notorious earmark. Conjuring up images of “Bridges to Nowhere” or “Teapot Museums”, earmarks, or Congressionally Directed Funding, have become the poster child for irresponsible, out of control, big government spending. But is the earmarking practice by Congressional representatives really pushing our country to the brink of bankruptcy?  read more »