Urban Issues

Why Most Cities Will Never Be All They Used to Be


Recently I published a piece on my Forbes site that discusses the disparate impact that demographic and social shifts had on larger, older U.S. cities over the second half of the 20th century.  Basically, the smaller American household size, generated by later marriages, rising divorce rates, lower fertility rates and rising life expectancy, among other things, has meant that unless cities were adding housing, they simply weren't growing.  read more »

Welcome To Y'all Street: The Cities Challenging New York For Financial Supremacy


From the earliest days of the Republic, banking and finance has largely been the purview of what one historian calls the “Yankee Empire.” Based largely in New York and Boston, later on financial centers grew along the main route of Yankee migration to Chicago and San Francisco.

Yet, if you look at where financial jobs are now headed, perhaps it’s time, as the Dallas Morning News cheekily suggested recently, to substitute Y’all Street for Wall Street. Finance, increasingly conducted electronically, is no longer tethered to its traditional centers. Large global financial companies like UBSDeutsche Bank Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are all committed to relocating operations to less expensive locations.  read more »

Life Is Beautiful in America When You’re Paul Krugman


I live on the Upper West Side in New York and love it. But when Paul Krugman wrote a blog post using the UWS an example of what’s right in America – “If you want to feel good about the state of America, you could do a lot worse than what I did this morning: take a run in Riverside Park” –  I had to respond.  Not only is the UWS obviously unrepresentative of America, but many people see its prosperity as purchased at least in part at their expense.  read more »

Notes From An Upzoning Heretic


I recently got into a discussion on Twitter about the soundness of upzoning, or the increase in the allowance of residential units in cities, as a rational and reasonable response to the lack of affordable housing in our nation's large cities.  Anyone who's been reading my writing knows that I've disagreed with this for quite some time, and tried many ways to articulate my views and reach some understanding.  read more »

California: The Economics of Delusion


In Sacramento, and much of the media, California is enjoying a “comeback” that puts a lie to the argument that regulations and high taxes actually matter. The hero of this recovery, Gov. Jerry Brown, in Bill Maher’s assessment, “took a broken state and fixed it.”  read more »

Shanghai to Manchuria and Central China by Train


There is no better way to see China than by train. This is especially true because foreigners are not allowed to drive rental cars without first obtaining a Chinese drivers license. China has developed the world's largest high-speed rail system, which includes one of only three profitable routes in the world, along with Tokyo to Osaka and Paris to Lyon.  read more »

America Without Immigration 2015-50


Be careful what you wish for, if that is what you wish for.

Except for the oil shocks of the 1970s and a few other recessionary years, the US economy has generally been strong in the postwar era since 1945. Huge advances in technology and trade, a favorable business environment and strong demographics combined to create tens of trillions of dollars of new wealth in the US and around the world.  read more »

Zika, Rio And The Rising Health Hazards Of Megacities


In 2009, when Rio de Janeiro was awarded the Summer Games, many saw it as a validation of Brazil’s ascension on the world stage. Yet seven years later, this estimation seems to have been a bit premature, as Rio and other Brazilian cities struggle to meet the basic needs of the Olympians.  read more »


Commie Skin Jobs


This is Riga, Latvia. The Baltic Republics had a particularly difficult time during the twentieth century with Nazi Germany invading in 1941 and Soviet Russia occupying them until 1991. What had been a prosperous group of small Scandinavian style countries became relatively impoverished and isolated.  read more »

Ireland Adopts Plan to Increase Housing Supply and Improve Housing Affordability


The government of Ireland has adopted a new policy (Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness) intended to improve the quality of life and the national economy by making housing more affordable.  read more »