There Will Be No Real Recovery Without The Middle Class

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What if they gave a recovery, and the middle class were never invited? Well, that’s an experiment we are running now, and, even with the recent strengthening of the jobs market, it’s not looking very good.

Over the last five years, Wall Street and the investor class have been on a bull run, but the economy has been, at best, torpid for the vast majority of the population. Despite blather about our “democratic capitalism,” stock ownership is increasingly concentrated with the wealthy as the middle class retrenches. The big returns that hedge funds, real estate trusts or venture capitalist receive are simply outside the reach of the vast majority.  read more »

The California Economy: A Strength Vs Weakness Breakdown

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Part two of a two-part report. Read part 1.

The problem with analyzing California's economy — or with assessing its vigor — is that there is not one California economy. Instead, we have a group of regions that will see completely different economic outcomes. Then, those outcomes will be averaged, and that average of regional outcomes is California's economy. It is possible, even likely, that no region will see the average outcome, just as we rarely see average rainfall in California.  read more »

The California Economy: When Vigor and Frailty Collide

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Part one of a two-part report

California is a place of extremes. It has beaches, mountains, valleys and deserts. It has glaciers and, just a few miles away, hot, dry deserts. Some years it doesn't rain. Some years it rains all winter. Those extremes are part of what makes California the attractive place that it is, and, west of the high mountains, California is mostly an extremely comfortable place to live.  read more »

Dispersing Millennials

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The very centers of urban cores in many major metropolitan areas are experiencing a resurgence of residential development, including new construction in volumes not seen for decades. There is a general impression, put forward by retro–urbanists (Note 1) and various press outlets that the urban core resurgence reflects a change in the living preferences of younger people – today's Millennials – who they claim are rejecting the suburban and exurban residential choices of their parents and grandparents.  read more »

Confessions of a Rust Belt Orphan

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Northeast Ohio

Go to sleep, Captain Future, in your lair of art deco
You were our pioneer of progress, but tomorrow’s been postponed
Go to sleep, Captain Future, let corrosion close your eyes
If the board should vote to restore hope, we’ll pass along the lie

-The Secret Sound of the NSA, Captain Future

As near as I can tell, the term “Rust Belt” originated sometime in the mid-1980s. That sounds about right.  read more »

One-party Rule is No Party in California

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Forty years ago, Mexico was a one-party dictatorship under the Partido Revolucionario Institucional, hobbled by slow growth, soaring inequality, endemic corruption and dead politics. California, in contrast, was considered a model American state, with a highly regarded Legislature, relatively clean politics, a competitive political process and a soaring economy.  read more »

Subjects:

Watch 220 Years of U.S. State Population Growth

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Around this time of year, some of us can’t help but think of the history of this great nation. What was life like back in the days of the founding fathers, and how have they changed in the decades since?  read more »

Sterling, the Clippers, and $2B of Monopoly Money

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Is there a more crooked roulette wheel than the one that spins around in the circles of professional sports? I ask in the context of the punishment meted out to Donald Sterling, the in-limbo owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, who, for his commentaries about race in America, was banned from the league and might be “forced” to sell his team for $2 billion, about $1.5 billion more than it was worth before his girlfriend taped their tawdry talks.  read more »

Subjects:

Urban Renewal Needs More than ‘Garden City’ Stamp to Take Root

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Every few years the ideals of Ebenezer Howard’s garden city utopia are resurrected in an attempt by the UK government to create new communities, and address the country’s housing crisis. Sometimes this takes the form of new towns or eco-towns, and sometimes proposals for an actual garden city are put forward – as in the last budget.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Chongqing

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No city in the world is so misunderstood by analysts and the press. It is commonly asserted Chongqing is the largest city in the world. In reality it barely makes the top 50, ranking 47th.

Cities (Shi) in China are Regions and Mostly Rural

It is fundamentally a problem of semantics and a failure to comprehend the nuances of urban geography in China. The country is divided into provinces and their equivalents, which are in turn, divided into prefectures, most of which are "shi," "Shi" translates into English as "city."  read more »