The Suburban Economy and its Enemies

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Treasury Secretary Ken Henry’s recent address to business economists was an apt prism through which to survey Sydney’s immediate past and distant future. According to reports, he said ‘the [Chinese] resources boom had produced a “two-speed” economy, with unemployment rising in the south-eastern states but falling in the west and north’. Dr Henry is reported to have told his Sydney audience, ‘I don’t think everybody in this room should be moving to Perth.  read more »

Letter From Asia's Co-Prosperity Sphere

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To visit banks in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, I recently flew into Shanghai and out from Singapore. In two weeks, I rode a lot of trains and met a lot of bankers. When I got home to Europe, it felt like I had traversed a Greater Economic Co-Prosperity Sphere, although I was never sure if it was one that belonged to China, Japan, or the international banking system. Here's a highly personal, thumbnail report on the region's development and some of the local rail network:  read more »

Amid Obama's Change is More of the Same

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The Obama administration has been, so far, hierarchical and even conservative in its thinking. Following and even surpassing the Bush administration’s reliance on an M.B.A.-trained elite, which drove the country nearly to ruin, the Obama approach seems to boil down to finding the smartest guy in the room, rather than utilizing people with hands-on experience or acquired wisdom.  read more »

America’s Energy Future: The Changing Landscape of America

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During the first ten days of October 2008, the Dow Jones dropped 2,399.47 points, losing 22.11% of its value and trillions of investor equity. The Federal Government pushed a $700 billion bail-out through Congress to rescue the beleaguered financial institutions. The collapse of the financial system in the fall of 2008 was likened to an earthquake. In reality, what happened was more like a shift of tectonic plates.  read more »

Why Attitude Matters: How Nebraska is Reaping the Stimulus

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In what are tough times for most states, conditions for business remain surprisingly good in Nebraska. Like other states in the “zone of sanity” Nebraska is especially supportive of small businesses.

Nebraska is one of a series out of mid-American outliers. In 2008 – a year of a severe national contraction – the state experienced a 3.6 percent growth in gross domestic product. Its current unemployment rate of just 4.4 percent stands at less than half the U.S. rate of 9.4 percent  read more »

Exurban Growth Greater than Central Growth: Census Bureau

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The US Bureau of the Census has just released an analysis of suburbanization showing that the nation continues to suburbanize, despite the consistent media “spin” that people are leaving the suburbs to move to core cities.

The report, Population Change in Central and Outlying Counties of Metropolitan Statistical Areas: 2000 to 2007, goes further than our previous 2000 to 2008 analysis that showed strong domestic outmigration from central counties to suburban counties and beyond.  read more »

Why The Left Is Questioning Its Hero

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Much has been made by the national media and the markets about the emergence from our desiccated economic soil of what President Obama has called "green shoots." But although the economy may already be slowly regenerating (largely due to its natural resiliency), we need to question whether these fledglings will grow into healthy plants or a crop of crabgrass.

The political right has made many negative assessments of the president's approach, decrying the administration's huge jump in deficit spending and penchant for ever more expansive regulatory control of the economy. Polling data by both The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal shows some growing unease about both the expanding federal role in the economy and the growing mountain of debt.  read more »

How Phoenix Will Come Back

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I have heard Paul Krugman say that ‘the end is nigh’ so many times that it seemed like the only sensible way to think about the housing market. It was identified as a bubble, and that could only mean that it would eventually burst. A steady diet of NYT editorials and Economist charts leave you with one conclusion — this is not going to end well.

This certainly seems to be true in Phoenix. Even though I’ve lectured for years about ‘the growth machine’, how the economy in a city like Phoenix depends on building more homes, I did not expect the whole thing to collapse quite so precipitately, and with so many repercussions.  read more »

GM, Business, and The Age of Small

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At its peak, General Motors employed 350,000 people and operated 150 assembly plants. It defined “big business” for America and the world.

But GM was not always big. It grew through the acquisitions that it made in the early decades of the twentieth century. In those days, the automotive industry was populated by entrepreneurial small businesses led by people like Ransom Olds and Henry Ford. There were more than 200 automobile companies in the United States in 1920. By 1940, only 17 had survived.  read more »

On Our Knees: Prince Charles vs. Lord Rogers

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It is no wonder that architect Richard Rogers is feeling a bit peeved at Prince Charles. This month, the heir to the British throne scuppered plans for a £1 billion development putting 552 apartments on the 12.8-acre site of the old Chelsea Barracks. Rogers was most offended that the Prince used his Royalty to by-pass the usual planning law consultation, by speaking direct to the Qatari royalty who owned the site.  read more »