The House Prices are Too Damned High


In recent years, the plight of renters in a stagnant economy has been covered extensively. A book title incorporated the phrase “the rent is too damn high” (by Matthew Iglesias). The “Rent is Too Damn High Party” ran candidates in both city and state of New York elections. However, as bad as rent increases have been, more serious has been the escalation of house prices in the major metropolitan areas of the United States.  read more »

The US Census Digs Deeper: Where Were Your Ancestors From?


Over 45 million Americans identify their dominant ancestry as German and 22,000 identify theirs as Marshallese, from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. But in the US Census proposed new form for 2020, both of these groups get their own box to check for the first time. In the previous 2010 form (shown below), German-Americans would simply check ‘White’ and Marshallese-Americans would check ‘Other Pacific Islander’.  read more »


A Capital Improvement and Revitalization Idea for Detroit

pete detroit article.jpg

You may have heard that Detroit is in the midst of a modest but enduring revival in and around its downtown. Residents and businesses are returning to the city, filling long-vacant skyscrapers, prompting new commercial development and revitalizing adjacent old neighborhoods. As a former Detroiter I'm excited to see the turnaround. After so many false starts, Detroit's post-bankruptcy rebound seems very real.  read more »

Today’s Orange County: Not Right Wing—and Kinda Hip


What comes to mind when you think about Orange County? Probably, images of lascivious housewives and blonde surfers. And certainly, at least if you know your political history, crazed right-wing activists, riding around with anti-UN slogans on their bumpers in this county that served as a crucial birthplace of modern movement conservatism in the 1950s.  read more »

Two Cheers for NIMBYism


Politicians, housing advocates, planners and developers often blame the NIMBY — “not in my backyard” — lobby for the state’s housing crisis. And it’s true that some locals overreact with unrealistic growth limits that cut off any new housing supply and have blocked reasonable ways to boost supply.

But the biggest impediment to solving our housing crisis lies not principally with neighbors protecting their local neighborhoods, but rather with central governments determined to limit, and make ever more expensive, single-family housing. Economist Issi Romem notes that, based on the past, “failing to expand cities [to allow sprawl] will come at a cost” to the housing market.  read more »

Diedre McCloskey’s Trickle-Out Economics


Economics, history, English and communications Professor Diedre N. McCloskey, of the University of Illinois, Chicago offers a unique interpretation of economic history  that is well summarized in the subtitle of her book, “Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions Enriched the World.”

This is a magisterial volume, which Matthew Ridley praised in his Times of London review, saying “It is so rich in vocabulary, allusion and fact as to be a contender for the great book of our age.” That is not an exaggeration.  read more »


America's Next Great Metropolis Is Taking Shape In Texas


If you drive south from Dallas, or west from Houston, a subtle shift takes place. The monotonous, flat prairie that dominates much of Texas gives way to a landscape that rises and ebbs.  read more »

The New War Between the States


In this disgusting election, dominated by the personal and the petty, the importance of the nation’s economic geography has been widely ignored. Yet if you look at the Electoral College map, the correlation between politics and economics is quite stark, with one economy tilting decisively toward Trump and more generally to Republicans, the other toward Hillary Clinton and her Democratic allies.  read more »

The Rival Future Visions of Peter Thiel and Scott Adams


Our mental model of the world shapes our behavior at fundamental levels in ways we often can’t even recognize. I was struck by this when reading two books almost back to back, Scott Adams’ How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big and Peter Thiel’s Zero to One.

Both authors lay out a schema for modeling the future and how to behave relative to it, but come to very different conclusions.  read more »


Welcome to Rosemont, IL


Millions of people pass through O'Hare, settle into the adjacent hotels, go to conferences and meetings in the nearby convention centers, shop in the nearby stores or drink and eat in the nearby bars and restaurants, and believe they're in Chicago.  But they're not.  In most cases, they're in the small village of Rosemont, the tiny town that's done more than any community I know to capitalize on its location.  read more »