Let's Snooker The TARP Babies

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Snook, Texas, a town of less than 600 souls, is best known for being the home of Sodalak's Country Inn, the originator of country fried bacon. It may seem an odd place to launch a return to financial health, but that's exactly what Dean Bass has in mind.

Bass, a veteran banking entrepreneur from Houston, in November bought the tiny First Bank of Snook as part of his plan to build a new financial powerhouse amid the worst economic downturn in a generation. The old bank, which also had a branch 15 miles away in College Station, home to Texas A&M, provided Bass with his charter, as well as access to a strong market on the far periphery of his home town.  read more »

The Luxury City vs. the Middle Class

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The sustainable city of the future will rest on the revival of traditional institutions that have faded in many of today’s cities.

Ellen Moncure and Joe Wong first met in school and then fell in love while living in the same dorm at the College of William and Mary. After graduation, they got married and, in 1999, moved to Washington, D.C., where they worked amid a large community of single and childless people.  read more »

Suburbs and Cities: The Unexpected Truth

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Much has been written about how suburbs have taken people away from the city and that now suburbanites need to return back to where they came. But in reality most suburbs of large cities have grown not from the migration of local city-dwellers but from migration from small towns and the countryside.  read more »

The Twilight of Special Interest Politics

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Special interest groups are the scourge of the common interest, are they not? The Founding Fathers, in The Federalist Papers, recognized the danger posed by “factions,” but assumed that competing groups would keep the balance. They could not have foreseen our current Special Interest State, wherein tens of thousands of special interest groups exert such profound influence on politics, policies and life in the United States.  read more »

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Lenny Mills to Urban America: Clock Is Ticking for Ranks of ‘New Homeless’

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I always do my best to make time for Lenny Mills because he’s earned that sort of consideration.

Mills is the fellow who wrote several pieces under the banner of his trademark “7 Rules” outline, where he applies the tricks he learned as a telemarketer to analyses of real estate development, politics, and other matters.  read more »

Smart Growth? Or Not So Bright Idea?

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Smart Growth and New Urbanism have increasingly merged into a loosely aligned set of ideas. The benefits of this high-density housing viewpoint are fast becoming a ‘given’ to planners and city governments, but studies that promote the advantages often omit the obvious disadvantages. Here are some downsides that show a much different story:

Smart Growth or Dumb Idea?  read more »

Who will win the Car-wars?

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General Motors, the venerable American auto manufacturer is sitting on the cliff’s edge in North America with a recent 3-month loss of $6 billion. However, GM watched its sales in China skyrocket 50% for the month of April, 2009. Ironically, Toyota, the company many Americans now cheer for, has posted a $7.7 billion loss for the first quarter.

This now proves, without a doubt, that the auto industry – not just in the US – is going through a massive crisis. But it’s clear that American manufacturing has reached a critical, historical turning point.  read more »

Obama's Energy Triangulation

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With the possible exception of health care reform, no major issue presents more political opportunities and potential pitfalls for President Barack Obama than energy. A misstep over energy policy could cause serious economic, social and political consequences that could continue over the next decade.  read more »

Austin's Secrets For Economic Success

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Few places have received more accolades in recent years than Austin, the city that ranked first on our list of the best big cities for jobs. Understanding what makes this attractive, fast-growing city tick can tell us much about what urban growth will look like in the coming decades.

Austin's success is not surprising since, in many ways, it starts on third base. Two of its greatest assets result from the luck of the draw; it's both a state capital and home to a major research university.  read more »

Cap and Trade: Who Wins, Who Loses

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President Obama recently announced his plan for environmental protection and Congress took up the debate. Called “Cap and Trade” Obama explained it simply in several public appearances. The government puts a limit on the total amount of carbon emissions that are acceptable in the United States. Carbon emissions come, basically, from burning carbon-based fuels – natural gas, petroleum and coal – in the production and use of energy.  read more »