Urban Issues

The Evolving Urban Form: Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto

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Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto is Japan's second largest urban area and ranks as the 12th largest urban area in the world. With a population of approximately 17,000,000 and a land area of 1240 square miles (3200 square kilometers), Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto has a population density of 13,700 per square mile (5,200 per square kilometer), making it the most dense major urban area in Japan and among the denser urban areas in the high income world. The larger metropolitan region includes four prefectures, Osaka, Kyoto, Kyoto and Nara (Figure 1).  read more »

The Great Reordering of the Urban Hierarchy

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A delegation from Chicago is in Brussels this week to sell the city as a tourist destination in advance of the forthcoming NATO Summit. A Phil Rosenthal column explains that the city has a long way to go:  read more »

The Leveraged Buyout of the GDR

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Until the European Central Bank purchased a call option on the future assets of the Greek government (which remains out-of-the-money), the largest leveraged buyout of a sovereign state had taken place in 1990, when the West German government acquired the German Democratic Republic (GDR), thought at the time to consist largely of liabilities. By most accounts the Bonn government paid over the odds for East Germany, estimated to have cost the West more than $1 trillion.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

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Vietnam may be the next China. With a nominally communist government, Vietnam has liberalized its markets and is prospering from an increased reliance on exports. Vietnam's gross domestic product per capita is still only about $3000, but has been among the faster growing economies over the past 10 years. Vietnam is well positioned to capture any growth that might be diverted from China’s east coast urban areas as labor costs there rise and concerns increase about the influence of that country’s powerful state-owned corporations.  read more »

The Expanding Wealth Of Washington

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Throughout the brutal and agonizingly long recession, only one large metropolitan area escaped largely unscathed: Washington, D.C. The city that wreaked economic disasters under two administration last year grew faster in population than any major region in the country, up a remarkable 2.7 percent. The continued steady growth of the Texas cities, which dominated the growth charts over the past decade, pales by comparison.  read more »

The Use and Misuse of Glaeser's Triumph of the City

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Appeals to authority are now the stock-in-trade of progressive pundits across a range of public controversies. In the face of popular discontent bubbling up from forums on the net and elsewhere, their fall-back posture is heavy-handed ‘expertism’. Policymaking is the prerogative of those with the right qualifications and credentials. Ordinary citizens should butt-out, no matter how self-interested the experts may seem. So too in the field of urban policy, encumbered as it is with a green-compact-city orthodoxy, do appeals to authority hold sway.  read more »

The Sorry State of American Transport

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We constantly read about the infrastructure crisis in America. I’ll have more to say on this at a future date, but it is pretty clear that we need to spend more money in a whole lot of areas: airports, roads and bridges, public transportation, and more.

Yet it’s very easy to see that so much of what ails transport has nothing to do with a lack of funds and everything to do with a lack of will. I took a train ride on the Northeast corridor last week that really drove it home to me.  read more »

The Republican Party's Fatal Attraction To Rural America

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Rick Santorum’s big wins in Alabama and Mississippi place the Republican Party in ever greater danger of becoming hostage to what has become its predominate geographic base: rural and small town America. This base, not so much conservatives per se, has kept Santorum’s unlikely campaign alive, from his early win in Iowa to triumphs in predominately rural and small-town dominated Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota and Oklahoma.  read more »

Honolulu’s Money Train

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Honolulu is set to construct an ambitious urban rail project. It’s a $5.125 billion behemoth that this metropolitan area with less than a million residents may not be able to afford.

Honolulu's Beleaguered Residents

Critically, there is plenty of competition for the scarce dollars that Honolulu residents have to spare. The city’s basic infrastructure is in bad shape.  read more »

The Ultimate Houston Strategy

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Last week was the 7th anniversary of my blog, Houston Strategies. After 947 posts (cream of the crop here), almost half a million visitors, and thousands of comments in an epic dialogue about Houston, I thought this would be a good time stand back, look at the big picture, and ask "What should be next for Houston?" while linking back to some of the gems from that archive.  read more »