Robert Gordon's Notable History of Economics and Living Standards

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Professor Robert J. Gordon's The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War is a magisterial volume that will benefit any serious student of economics, demographics or history. I took the opportunity of the 28 hours of sunlight on a round trip from Detroit to Shanghai to read it, which was a productive and delightful way to make the time go faster.

Gordon is the Stanley G. Harris Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois. This review will summarize the basic thesis of the nearly 800 page book, and refers to Gordon's comments on urbanization and transport, which are of particular interest to newgeography.com readers.  read more »

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Why Most Cities Will Never Be All They Used to Be

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Recently I published a piece on my Forbes site that discusses the disparate impact that demographic and social shifts had on larger, older U.S. cities over the second half of the 20th century.  Basically, the smaller American household size, generated by later marriages, rising divorce rates, lower fertility rates and rising life expectancy, among other things, has meant that unless cities were adding housing, they simply weren't growing.  read more »

Eastern Europe Heads For A Brave Old World

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Will a unified Europe survive Britain’s vote on Brexit? The referendum of last June pointed the country out of the European Union. Will France or Italy follow suit? If so, it could doom the structure that began in the 1950s as a customs union, if not an uneasy economic alliance to keep Germany from rearming and dominating central Europe. And will a consequence of Brexit be the re-emergence of Russia as the dominant power in Eastern Europe? Or will the European Union last long enough to bring prosperity to the forgotten countries of Eastern Europe?  read more »

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Welcome To Y'all Street: The Cities Challenging New York For Financial Supremacy

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From the earliest days of the Republic, banking and finance has largely been the purview of what one historian calls the “Yankee Empire.” Based largely in New York and Boston, later on financial centers grew along the main route of Yankee migration to Chicago and San Francisco.

Yet, if you look at where financial jobs are now headed, perhaps it’s time, as the Dallas Morning News cheekily suggested recently, to substitute Y’all Street for Wall Street. Finance, increasingly conducted electronically, is no longer tethered to its traditional centers. Large global financial companies like UBSDeutsche Bank Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are all committed to relocating operations to less expensive locations.  read more »

Life Is Beautiful in America When You’re Paul Krugman

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I live on the Upper West Side in New York and love it. But when Paul Krugman wrote a blog post using the UWS an example of what’s right in America – “If you want to feel good about the state of America, you could do a lot worse than what I did this morning: take a run in Riverside Park” –  I had to respond.  Not only is the UWS obviously unrepresentative of America, but many people see its prosperity as purchased at least in part at their expense.  read more »

California for Whom?

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“Old in error,” writes historian Kevin Starr, “California remains an American hope.” Historically, our state has been a beacon to outsiders seeking a main chance: from gold miners and former Confederates to Midwesterners displaced by hardship, Jews seeking opportunity denied elsewhere, African Americans escaping southern apartheid, Asians fleeing communism and societal repression, Mexicans looking for a way out of poverty, counter-culture émigrés looking for a place where creation can overcome repression.  read more »

Today’s Tech Oligarchs Are Worse Than the Robber Barons

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Yes, Jay Gould was a bad guy. But at least he helped build societal wealth. Not so our Silicon Valley overlords. And they have our politicians in their pockets.  read more »

Still Migrating to Texas and Florida: 2013-2014 IRS Data

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released its 2013 to 2014 migration data. This data provides estimates of residential movement between counties and states based on the number of claimed exemptions on IRS income tax forms. According to IRS, this "approximates the number of individuals" who moved between jurisdictions.  read more »

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Notes From An Upzoning Heretic

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I recently got into a discussion on Twitter about the soundness of upzoning, or the increase in the allowance of residential units in cities, as a rational and reasonable response to the lack of affordable housing in our nation's large cities.  Anyone who's been reading my writing knows that I've disagreed with this for quite some time, and tried many ways to articulate my views and reach some understanding.  read more »

Intellectuals Are Freaks

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Intellectuals — a category that includes academics, opinion journalists, and think tank experts — are freaks. I do not mean that in a disrespectful way. I myself have spent most of my life in one of the three roles mentioned above. I have even been accused of being a “public intellectual,” which sounds too much like “public nuisance” or even “public enemy” for my taste.  read more »

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