In a nice phrase, the western writer Wallace Stegner called the Mountain West the “native home of hope.” However, for a while now at least parts of the region are also going to need another virtue as well: patience.
The latest edition of MetroMonitor--our ground-up view of the recession and recovery--is out today, looking at economic indicators through the third quarter of 2009. The bottom line: It’s still a big country. Some places had largely recovered by September, while others still hadn’t bottomed out yet. Check out the report for all the details, but here are a few amuse- bouches to whet your appetite: The manufacturing belt surges… but it may be temporary.
A few weeks ago we wrote about how the federal government’s guidance to target funds in “Economically Distressed Areas” is fundamentally flawed. It basically reinforces the ‘peanut butter’ approach of spending infrastructure dollars around very thinly. A new GAO report found that it’s getting worse.
In his Tuesday New York Times column earlier this week, David Brooks proposes what he calls a “bipartisan innovation agenda,” based on a September white paper from the president’s National Economic Council. Brooks is right to talk about innovation as a way to revive the nation’s sputtering economic engine. But his policy prescriptions don’t go far enough to spur innovation because they’re based on an overly market-oriented view of the economy: the idea that the market, if supplied with the right inputs and structured the right way, will produce all the innovation the nation needs. Brooks adv
In his remarks on job creation a few days ago, President Obama slid in a mention of additional federal relief funds to states and localities to prevent layoffs.
Talk of bicycle infrastructure dominated last evening’s “Cities, Cycling, and the Future of Getting Around” forum last night at the Newseum. Heavily attended by members of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, the event, sponsored by the National Association of City Transportation Officials and Brookings, featured comments from avid cyclist/author/Talking Heads musician David Byrne, Congressional Bike Caucus Chair Rep.
When it comes to the value of the dollar, there are clear trade offs between American export competitiveness and import prices. How these opposing forces balance out nationally and across regions is the subject of a great deal of debate but surprisingly little empirical work. Paul Krugman, in a recent post, predicts advantageous outcomes if the dollar depreciates but cites no convincing evidence. Dani Rodrik’s recent paper, which is the most solid and relevant econometric work I’ve seen on the subject, finds that an under-valued currency increases economic growth.
So it sounds like the president may call for some sort of additional aid to state and local governments Tuesday when he speaks on job preservation and creation at Brookings. That’s potentially very good, but it’s important that Congress and the administration get the job done right this time.
The White House's Jobs and Economic Growth Forum yesterday was a fascinating, yet frustrating event. The president and his team were very forceful about the need for action and the seriousness of our current situation. Yet he was also quite sober given the fiscal challenges we’re facing as a nation and the tension between short and long term priorities. After sitting in the infrastructure session yesterday, it is clear that there are no easy answers. Of course, there were some familiar calls for ramping up spending on yet another heap of “shovel-ready” projects.