Public Pension Troubles Loom for State and Local Governments

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We have watched with trepidation as the stock market declines and along with it the value of our retirement accounts. Yet with our personal accounts, it’s our own problem. When it comes to public pensions, it’s the taxpayer’s problem. Underfunded pensions could cut two ways, leading to much higher taxes and/or cuts in government spending.  read more »

Reviving the City of Aspiration: A Study of the Challenges Facing New York City's Middle Class

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For much of its history, New York City has thrived as a place that both sustained a large middle class and elevated countless people from poorer backgrounds into the ranks of the middle class. The city was never cheap and parts of Manhattan always remained out of reach, but working people of modest means—from forklift operators and bus drivers to paralegals and museum guides—could enjoy realistic hopes of home ownership and a measure of economic security as they raised their families across the other four boroughs.  read more »

Obama: Only Implement Green Policies that Make Sense in a Time of Crisis

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With the exception of African-Americans, the group perhaps most energized by the Barack Obama presidency has been the environmentalists. Yet if most Americans can celebrate along with their black fellow citizens the tremendous achievement of Obama’s accession, the rise of green power may have consequences less widely appreciated.

The new power of the green lobby — including a growing number of investment and venture capital firms — introduces something new to national politics, although already familiar in places such as California and Oregon. Even if you welcome the departure of the Bush team, with its slavish fealty to Big Oil and the Saudis, the new power waged by environmental ideologues could impede the president’s primary goal of restarting our battered economy.  read more »

Housing Prices Will Continue to Fall, Especially in California

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The latest house price data indicates no respite in the continuing price declines, especially where the declines have been the most severe. But no place has seen the devastation that has occurred in California. As median house prices climbed to an unheard-of level – 10 or more times median household incomes – a sense of euphoria developed among many purchasers, analysts and business reporters who deluded themselves into believing that metaphysics or some such cause would propel prices into a more remote orbit.  read more »

New York Should End Its Obsession With Manhattan

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Over the past two years, I have had many opportunities to visit my ancestral home, New York, as part of a study out later this week by the Center for an Urban Future about the city's middle class. Often enough, when my co-author, Jonathan Bowles, and I asked about this dwindling species, the first response was "What middle class?"

Well, here is the good news. Despite Mayor Bloomberg's celebration of "the luxury city," there's still a middle class in New York, although not in the zip codes close to hizzoner's townhouse. These middle-class enclaves are as diverse as the city. Some are heavily ethnic, others packed with arty types, many of them more like suburbia than traditionally urban.  read more »

Cleveland, Part II: Re-Constructing the Comeback

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Yesterday, in Part I, I talked about how, despite the Cleveland region’s significant assets, the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s strategy is failing to transform its economy. Today I’ll focus on the strategy’s five weaknesses, and how to fix them.

First: The Wrong Approach To Achieving Scale  read more »

Cleveland: How The Comeback Collapsed

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The Cleveland comeback has stalled. Once hailed as a shining example of rebirth in our industrial heartland, Cleveland now sits rudderless and drifting backward. Between 2000 and 2007, Cleveland suffered one of the largest proportional population losses in the country: the city shrank by 8%. Per capita income growth in Cleveland also lags behind cities like Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh. Since the early 1990s, the gap between Cleveland and these other cities has widened. As a regional economy deteriorates, the pressure for social services goes up.  read more »

Report: Ontario, CA – A Geography for Unsettling Times

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These are unsettling times for almost all geographies. As the global recession deepens, there are signs of economic contraction that extend from the great financial centers of New York and London to the emerging market capitals of China, India and the Middle East. Within the United States as well, pain has been spreading from exurbs and suburbs to the heart of major cities, some of which just months ago saw themselves as immune to the economic contagion.

Without question, the damage to the economies of suburban regions such as the Inland Empire has been severe.  read more »

A Sober Look at the New Year for Obama

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Personal experience made me a skeptic about racial progress. When I was 8, I was upset when our Japanese neighbors in Los Angeles were sent off to internment. In 1963, I traveled across the Deep South, awed by the totality of poverty, segregation and discrimination.

But the election of Barack Obama restored a degree of faith in the American experiment, and hope for an economic and social turnaround. I was inspired by the inauguration and am encouraged by initial and intended actions. I’m reasonably sure that significant reforms will occur.  read more »

Florida’s Tourism Addiction

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Remember those innocent days last summer, when the biggest worry was high gas prices? Florida already felt the pinch as tourism dropped dramatically. Then, as the financial markets collapsed last fall, Florida’s leaders woke up and began talking about diversification. Like deer caught in the crosshairs of a rifle scope, economic boosters darted around looking for new safe places in the knowledge economy, ways to revitalize agriculture, and even exploring private space development to supplement the stuttering NASA program.  read more »