China's Empty Trains... & Other Unintended Consequences

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In a technical sense, the economy has been in recovery since June of 2009. A year and a half into the rebound though, a general cloud of economic malaise continues to cover the nation. Fears of a diminished America are perpetuated from our political and punditry classes. We are told that our collective lack of preparation, education, innovation, industry, and of infrastructure are all setting us up to fall further. Economic indicators may reflect a bounce-back, but structurally, America is waning. It is China that is increasingly emerging as the world’s bright spot in terms of development.  read more »

Australia's Housing Affordability "Outrage"


There is mounting concern in Australia about the nature and extent of country’s housing affordability crisis. Expressions of distress are not limited to the middle income households who are locked out of the Great Australian Dream of home ownership. There is heightened interest from advocates of low income households and an opposition political party. Moreover, Australia's overvalued housing is receiving renewed attention in international circles.  read more »

A New Tribe for New Geographies: Reasonable People of Goodwill


I am Singaporean, with a half-Indian, half-Eurasian father; a half-Pakistani, half-Malay mother. Dad converted to Islam from Roman Catholicism; each year my brothers and I celebrate Eid ful Fitr, Eid ul Adha and Christmas with different parts of our family. Cousins, aunts and uncles have married outside their ethnicity and faith – to Chinese Christians and Indian Hindus – so the Lunar New Year and Deepavali, the South Indian “Festival of Lights”, are also bustling times.  read more »


Brown’s California Budget Proposals: a Big Step in the Right Direction


I admit it. I had low expectations for Jerry Brown’s third term as governor. After seeing his budget proposal, I’m ready to reconsider my expectations. I think it is a great effort, and it deserves the support of all of us tired of seeing our state reduced to laughing stock.  read more »

Super Bowl XLV: The $10 Billion Bag of Chips

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I am raining on the big parade by equating the Super Bowl with trade deficits, budget shortfalls, state bonds on the edge of default, and unemployment close to ten percent. But if thirty-second ads that cost $2.7 million or The Black Eyed Peas at halftime can’t lift the economy out of its doldrums, how can we expect the same miracles from Troy Polamalu or Aaron Rodgers?  read more »

Orange County Vantage Point: One Eye on Egypt as Little Saigon Rebrands Tet


Scenes from Egypt, Tunisia and other places in the Middle East provide a stark reminder of the chaos that can consume entire nations. The scene on Bolsa Avenue in Little Saigon last week offered evidence that chaos can be overcome.

Don’t get me wrong—chaos had a place along Bolsa as streams of drivers sought rare parking spaces, crowds gathered around impromptu fireworks displays on the streets, and shoppers elbowed their way among dozens of flower merchants who set up shop in parking lots.  read more »

The Social Side of the Internet


Is success in social networking measured by the number of “Friends” you have on Facebook, or “Followers” you have on Twitter, or “Connections” you make on LinkedIn? 

The jury is still out on how social media and social networking will ultimately play out, but new research shows real benefits are being realized from it.  read more »

The Death of Earmarks


Record deficit spending in Washington has many faces: Defense, Medicare, Social Security. But none has received more criticism in recent months than the infamous and notorious earmark. Conjuring up images of “Bridges to Nowhere” or “Teapot Museums”, earmarks, or Congressionally Directed Funding, have become the poster child for irresponsible, out of control, big government spending. But is the earmarking practice by Congressional representatives really pushing our country to the brink of bankruptcy?  read more »

The Midwest: Coming Back?


Oh my name it is nothing
My age it is less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest

–Bob Dylan, “With God on Our Side,” 1964

For nearly a half century since the Minnesota-raised Robert Zimmerman wrote those lines, the American Midwest has widely been seen as a “loser” region–a place from which talented people have fled for better opportunities. Those Midwesterners seeking greater, glitzier futures historically have headed to the great coastal cities of Miami, New York, San Diego or Seattle, leaving behind the flat expanses of the nation’s mid-section for the slower-witted, or at least less imaginative.  read more »

Regional Exchange Rates: The Cost of Living in US Metropolitan Areas


International travelers and expatriates have long known that currency exchange rates are not reliable indicators of purchasing power. For example, a traveler to France or Germany will notice that the dollar equivalent in Euros cannot buy as much as at home. Conversely, the traveler to China will note that the dollar equivalent in Yuan will buy more.  read more »