The globalization of housing markets stood at the center of the vast, now unraveling, economic change of the past decade. The creation of new investment vehicles in the 90s diverted vast amounts of capital into housing markets around the world. The results were many and varied. Design features began to converge, with gated communities following shopping malls into cites in Latin America, China, Turkey and most other countries. Home prices began to rise, with The Economist even publishing a table of global house prices, indicating those with the most inflated costs read more »
I entered the field of futures research in 1981. No, not futures – contracts to deliver a certain commodity at a certain price at a date certain (God, I wish I had) – futures research, as in scenarios, trends, strategic planning and market planning. Unfortunately the place was soon lousy with what I call “futurism”: extrapolations of the unsustainable to make the improbable look inevitable.
A current example: suburbs are doomed because of high energy prices (peak oil!), the housing bubble, the obsolescence of the internal combustion engine, and yes, global warming (and what hasn’t been blamed on global warming?). Besides, the urban renaissance is underway; people want to live in the city for the culture, food, music and hipness, don’tchaknow. read more »
Let’s look at general urban settlement and suburbia from a geographic and demographic, not a planning or ideological viewpoint. There’s really no point to the fruitless and unscientific harangues about how people ought to live or about allegedly better or poorer forms of settlement. read more »
Suburbs may not have cooked up the mortgage crisis, but they absorbed much of initial damage. Now that Wall Street and the big cities are also taking the fall, suburbanites might feel a bit better — but there’s still lots of room for anger out in the land of picket fences, decent schools and shopping malls. read more »
There is much speculation among economists and others about how close we are to the bottom of the collapse of housing prices. This is, of course, an important question, and goes to the heart of the wisdom or folly of the proposed $700 billion government bailout of financial markets, which is a consequence of their own profligate lending practices. read more »
The current discussion in Washington can either lead to a rapid processing and recovery at the local level or a long drawn out destruction of local economies. This is particularly true of regions – Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Bernardino-Riverside, much of Florida – that have been hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. read more »
In the spring of 2003, I chaired an Urban Land Institute Advisory Services Panel focused on strategies for continuing the revitalization of downtown Birmingham, Ala. As in many cities this was driven by the stock of historic downtown buildings slowly being converted to either new office buildings or loft condominiums, supported by a handful of downtown cultural assets and public spaces. Our tour host proudly invited to the panel’s attention that three of the four buildings anchoring downtown’s “100 percent corner” were the high-rise headquarters of three regional banks. read more »
My eldest child tells me that when she arrived at an East Coast college her classmates—many of whom had never visited LA—would ask, “Does your family live in the city, or outside of it?” Her answer, she says, was always long — really long — and of eye-glazing complexity.
Anyone who has raised kids in the middle-class neighborhoods of multipolar LA might chuckle at the thought of trying to define urban or suburban. read more »
Fifty years ago, Phoenix was Tiny Town in the Desert, smaller than Oshkosh or Santa Fe today. Now, it is larger than Philadelphia and the metro area has the bulk of Arizona’s population. That does not mean it gets any respect; on the contrary, it is, to many, a joke, with all of Los Angeles’ traffic and smog but without the ocean, the celebrities or the Lakers. read more »
I have been attacked as a defender of ‘sprawl’ although I consider myself a man of the left, with a political-economy philosophy that is ‘social democratic – far to the left of the contemporary Democratic party. I view global warming as very serious, but consider continuing global warfare over resources, land and religion, and increasing national and global economic and political inequality as even more critical. read more »