Belly-Up In The Burbs: Bank-Owned Developments

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In 2009, the number of repossessed autos increased to 1.9 million. The number of homes under foreclosure varies from month to month, but the 2009 total was about 2.8 million. For 2010, it seems that a million new foreclosed homes would be conservative, with a large percentage in California. Miss a few payments on an auto loan and you may wake up to an empty driveway.  read more »

Pittsburgh's Tunnel of LOV

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Before Pittsburgh’s light-rail “Tunnel to Nowhere” under the Allegheny River came along, my favorite Port Authority boondoggle was the Wabash Tunnel under Mt. Washington.

Most Pittsburghers know all they need to know about the notorious "Tunnel to Nowhere."  read more »

Dallas: Building America's Largest Urban Park on the Trinity Riverside

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A flood protection site in Dallas is being transformed into America’s largest urban park. The economic and ecological benefits of conserving this slice of North Texas are destined to reverberate well beyond the city limits. Blackland Prairie is the most endangered large ecosystem in North America. The development that is underway —thankfully — to preserve this remnant of our past will also shore up our natural assets for the future.  read more »

Hasta La Vista, Failure

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In his headier and hunkier days, Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke boldly about how “failure is not an option.” This kind of bravado worked well in the gym–and in a remarkable career that saw an inarticulate Austrian body-builder rise to the apex of Hollywood and California politics.  read more »

Can We Replicate in the 21st Century What we Accomplished in the 20th? Not if We Handcuff Ourselves

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Can the American republic replicate in the 21st century what its people accomplished in the 20th: widespread economic prosperity at home, the conquering of tyrannies and fascist ideologies abroad, the application of science to eradicate disease and improve life? These accomplishments took great efforts and costs, but the benefits were extraordinary. I have been optimistic my whole trend-forecasting career, but now it has become harder to be optimistic.  read more »

Subjects:

If California Is Doing So Great, Why Are So Many Leaving?

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Superficially at least, California’s problems are well known. Are they well understood? Apparently not.

About a year ago Time ran an article, "Why California is Still America's future," touting California's future, a future that includes gold-rush-like prosperity in an environmentally pure little piece of heaven, brought to us by "public-sector foresight."  read more »

Are Developers Greedy, Or Just Misunderstood?

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Construction starts in Australia, like much of the English-speaking world, are falling across a spectrum from commercial to retail, industrial and housing. Construction industry jobs - one of the few sources for well compensated blue collar employment - are going with them. Yet developers, the very group who would create these jobs, continue to suffer a poor public image. Why, and can it ever be improved?  read more »

Building the Train to Nowhere

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The California High Speed Rail Authority has approved building its first 54 miles in the San Joaquin Valley. A somewhat longer route, 65 miles, has been indicated in a number of press reports, but Authority documents indicate that only 54 miles of high speed rail track will be built. The route would start in Corcoran, and go through Fresno to Borden, a small, unincorporated community south of Madera. All of this would cost $4.15 billion. The route would include two stations, in Fresno and Hanford/Visalia.  read more »

Cities That Prosper, Cool or Not

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Over the past few years, the raging debate in economic development has been over whether cities should be cool or uncool. Should cities pursue “the creative economy” by going after arts, culture, creative research & development, and innovation? Or should they focus on the bread-and-butter economy: hard infrastructure, traditional industries like manufacturing, and blue-collar jobs?  read more »

Education Wars: The New Battle For Brains

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The end of stimulus — as well as the power shift in Congress — will have a profound effect on which regions and states can position themselves for the longer-term recovery. Nowhere will this be more critical than in the battle for brains.

In the past, and the present, places have competed for smart, high-skilled newcomers by building impressive physical infrastructure and offering incentives and inducements for companies or individuals. But the battle for the brains — and for long-term growth — is increasingly tied to whether a state can maintain or expand its state-supported higher education. This is particularly critical given the growing student debt crisis, which may make public institutions even more attractive to top students.  read more »