Like a massive tornado, the Great Recession up-ended the topography of America. But even as vast parts of the country were laid low, some cities withstood the storm and could emerge even stronger and shinier than before. So, where exactly are these Oz-like destinations along the road to recovery? If you said Kansas, you’re not far off. Try Oklahoma. Or Texas. Or Iowa. Not only did the economic twister of the last two years largely spare Tornado Alley, it actually may have helped improve the landscape. read more »
The harvest of this year’s U.S. corn crop is about 90 percent complete, and it is going to be a bin-buster. If it surpasses 2009's astonishing 13.1 billion bushels, it could become the largest in U.S. history. American farmers are growing more corn today than at any time in the past, and the trend is accelerating. The last five years have brought us five of the largest corn crops ever. Where to store the stuff is becoming an issue: When the bins and elevators are full, the corn is simply piled on the ground. read more »
In the currency wars looming between the United States and China, everyone is focused on the decline of the U.S. dollar and the overvaluation of the Chinese renminbi. In the standoff, China maintains a low valuation for the yuan — the unit in which the renminbi is denominated — against the dollar, insuring that Wal-Mart can fill its aisles with goods that cost less than the patio furniture and video games made in Paducah, Kentucky. read more »
Mid-term Election Accelerates Federal Deconstruction
The mid-term election of 2010 has already been labeled a political earthquake. It was more like a shift of tectonic plates than a mere earthquake, and its results may be felt for decades. The landmark election signaled the beginning of deconstruction at the federal level in the United States. The Young Guns of the Republican Party (Representatives McCarthy, Cantor and Ryan) will lead a freshman class of 65 new members of Congress on a budget crusade to rein in government spending. Their first act will be to return federal spending to 2008 levels. There will be many acts to follow. These Congressmen will follow the lead of the “Deconstructors” who began deconstruction at the state level earlier this year. read more »
Two years ago I hailed Barack Obama’s election as “the triumph of the creative class.” Yesterday everything reversed, as middle-class Americans smacked down their putative new ruling class of highly educated urbanistas and college town denizens. read more »
Calgary municipal politics rarely makes news outside of the city. Going into this year’s municipal election, I had reason to believe this would change. I came to Calgary to manage the campaign of the runner up from the last election. He is a Muslim (specifically Ishmaili), and an outsider to the political establishment. People told me there's no way someone like that could be elected in Calgary. I’m happy to say that they were proven wrong. Unfortunately, I had nothing to do with this. read more »
In recent decades, an unprecedented variation has developed in the price of new tract housing on the fringe of US metropolitan markets. Nearly all of this difference is in costs other than site preparation and construction, which indicates rising land and regulation costs. read more »
I recently returned to Orange County after a decade’s absence, fully aware that a stereotype of all-white, card-carrying-John Birchers still exists among many who remain unfamiliar with facts on the ground here.
I never bought that old saw in the first place.
And now, on a second venture into OC, I’m amazed by how deeply those old stereotypes have been buried under the accumulated accomplishments of everyday folks. read more »
Mexico is disintegrating. Bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, and shootings are now common. Recently, the mayor of Tancitaro Mexico was stoned to death. Mexican corruption is so rampant that United States law enforcement officials are reluctant to work with their Mexican counterparts out, fearing perverse results. read more »
“I think this is just the latest way for people to make money off state and local governments. This is the new way the investment banks, their lawyers, and consultants squeeze the taxpayers....They’re going around making these deals, and it’s very lucrative. It’s like a circus coming to town.” - Clint Krislov
Privatization has long been advocated by many conservatives as a good government measure. Traditionally, privatization was used a tool that subjects government monopolies to competition from the marketplace, driving down costs and improving quality of service. Privatization pioneer Steve Goldsmith, former mayor of Indianapolis and now deputy mayor of New York City, used to apply what he called the “Yellow Pages test.” If he could open the Yellow Pages and find several companies providing a service, he wondered why government should be in that business. read more »