Small Cities

Influence of 'Creative Class' Ideas in Sweden

iStock_000002556105XSmall.jpg

By Nima Sanandaji, Johnny Munkhammar, and Peter Egardt

The American academic Richard Florida has gained international attention for his theories about the “creative class”. According to Florida, the key to urban success lies in attracting certain groups of people, such as artists, scientists and twenty-something singles. Florida insists that this can be accomplished through nursing a specific type of culture within a city: hip cafes, art galleries and other manifestations of indigenous street-level culture.  read more »

The Change We Need: Will We Sustain The Current Economy, Or Create A Sustainable Economy? Part I

iStock_000007302699XSmall-growing potted plant.jpg
The Change We Need will run in two parts. In Part I, Rick Cole lays out the kinds of changes we need, and why. Part II outlines his specific policy prescriptions.- The Editors

Will this historic election alter the American physical landscape as well as the electoral one? Much will depend on whether the Obama Administration will focus on trying to revive the economy or move to reshape it.

Bold leadership sounds great in the abstract, but embarking on profound changes in the economy is both politically risky and economically daunting. Government, especially the one the new president will inherit, is severely limited in its competence and capacity to reshape the American share of the global economy.  read more »

New Urbanism’s Economic Achilles Heel

iStock_000001128115XSmall.jpg

By Richard Reep

Whether one believes that form follows function or that function can follow form, a town or a city needs three key elements to be healthy. Firstly, a sense of place that includes the sacred is important to people to provide a basis for spiritual involvement. The city must then be able to reliably deliver safety and security to its inhabitants in order to grow and mature. And lastly, a city must provide the means of employment for its inhabitants.  read more »

Root Causes of the Financial Crisis: A Primer

iStock_000007508697XSmall.jpg

It is not yet clear whether we stand at the start of a long fiscal crisis or one that will pass relatively quickly, like most other post-World War II recessions. The full extent will only become obvious in the years to come. But if we want to avoid future deep financial meltdowns of this or even greater magnitude, we must address the root causes.

In my estimation two critical and related factors created the current crisis. First, profligate lending which allowed many people to buy overpriced properties that they could not, in reality, afford. Second, the existence of excessive land use regulation which helped drive prices up in many of the most impacted markets.  read more »

Localism – What’s the Attraction?

iStock_000006391804XSmall.jpg

As I drive to work here in Wisconsin Rapids, I cross the bridge where the view of the river is stunningly peaceful, with the mystical morning mist rising off the calm water reflecting the warm early morning sunlight as it surrounds the pristine wooded islands. It takes me all of five minutes by car to make my journey to work – one of the beauties of living in a smaller community. I can get to most places in town within five minutes.  read more »

Turns Out There's Good News on Main St.

iStock_000000820143XSmall.jpg

As the financial crisis takes down Wall Street, the regular folks on Main Street are biting their nails, watching the toxic tsunami head their way. But for all our nightmares of drowning in a sea of bad mortgages, foreclosed homes and shrunken retirement plans, the truth is that the effects of this meltdown won't be all bad in the long run. In one regard, it could offer our society a net positive: Forced into belt-tightening, Americans are likely to strengthen our family and community ties and to center our lives more closely on the places where we live.  read more »

Beyond The Bailout: What’s Next in the Housing Market?

iStock_000006691668XSmall.jpg

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (we’ll call it the “Bail Out”) was signed into law on October 3rd. This, combined with the new reality in capital markets and current economic conditions, will result in some major shifts in the outlook for housing over the next few years. It is always possible that the federal government will try to do even more to fix what will be an agonizing housing problem over the next few years, but seems unlikely even Bernake, Paulson or their appointed successors will be able to change the basic story line.  read more »

The Geography of Inequality

iStock_000006404432XSmall.jpg

The global financial crisis has drawn greater attention to the world of the super rich and to the astounding increases in inequality since 1980, returning the country to a degree of inequality last seen in 1929 or perhaps even 1913. In the year 2006 alone, Wall Street executives received bonuses of $62 billion. Financial services increased from 10 percent of all business profits in 1980 to 40 percent in 2007, an obscene and indefensible development that now threatens the rest of the ‘real economy’.

Here’s what happened to income and wealth between 1970 and 2005  read more »

Resources and Resourcefulness – Welcome to The Real Economy

IMG_0341.JPG

By Delore Zimmerman

The orchard-laden foothills of North Central Washington’s Wenatchee Valley are resplendent at this time of year. The apple and pear harvest is in full swing. The warm golden hues, the crisp mountain air and the bustle of trucks carrying produce to markets near and far provide a stark and welcome contrast to the daily barrage of bad news about the downward spiral of the nation’s financial markets.  read more »

Why Omaha?

iStock_000004232156XSmall.jpg

I lived in or near cities for 30 years because that’s where the jobs are. I left southwestern Pennsylvania in 1977 as the closing of coal mines and steel mills wrecked the local economy. It cost almost $1,000 per semester to attend the state college, many times that for the state university. There were no opportunities for a young person. I moved to California where residents received free tuition at state universities. I earned 2 college degrees in California and advanced my career from Prudential Insurance through the Federal Reserve Bank and to the Pacific Stock Exchange.  read more »