Las Vegas

In Michael Lewis’ disturbing but illuminating book unearthing the machinations behind the global financial crisis, The Big Short, one of the Wall Street investors enmeshed in creating the web of sub-prime mortgage-backed securities and related derivatives reports on how he knew the bubble was going to burst.

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How They Did It

When the president and his closest advisers huddled in the Oval Office last August, they had every reason to panic. Their signature piece of legislation, comprehensive health care reform, was mired in the Senate Finance Committee and the public was souring on it. Unemployment was on the march, and all this talk about preexisting conditions and insurance exchanges barely registered above the Fox News pundits screaming, “Death panel!” Suddenly, health care reform was under attack everywhere—even in the West Wing. All week, the group had debated whether to scale back the reform effort.

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This is the first of a five-part series explaining, in remarkable detail, how Obama and the Democrats came to pass health care reform. Be sure to come back tomorrow for the second part, which reveals how Ted Kennedy wooed Max Baucus and what Rahm Emanuel promised the drug industry. When the president and his closest advisers huddled in the Oval Office last August, they had every reason to panic. Their signature piece of legislation, comprehensive health care reform, was mired in the Senate Finance Committee and the public was souring on it.

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Crapshoot

Where is it most painful to be a highly visible incumbent politician at this particular moment in U.S. history? Perhaps it’s California, where current economic and budgetary discontents are compounding a growing public fury over chronically dysfunctional state government and an imprisoning constitution.

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Amid all the talk of U.S. trade recently, The Economist just published a series on the importance of exports. A piece entitled “Export or Die” described how a New York-based architecture firm barely avoided massive layoffs by finding projects in China, Korea, and the Middle East, where demand has not faltered as sharply over the last two years. In other words, service exports prevented unemployment. One wonders: Is this just an anecdote, or is it representative of an important trend? As it turns out, it is a trend.

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So I’ve just been in Las Vegas where Metro Program Director Bruce Katz gave a speech at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) on the next American economy and what might drive it in Southern Nevada. It was an interesting trip.   You might think, for example, that the program’s vision of a future American economy less dependent on consumption, more oriented to exports and innovation, and more focused on the fundamentals might not go down so well in Las Vegas. Southern Nevada in many respects represents the opposite of that outlook. Most notably, only Orlando among large U.S.

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Has the great Mountain region growth machine broken down?

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The Kings and I

Like a lot of writers, I have a Facebook page where I post articles that I’ve published. Over the past year or two, I’ve accumulated a few hundred followers--that is, Facebook friends--and, based upon the comments they leave, they tend to see the world the same way that I do. They’re left of center, by and large, and they believe fervently in health care reform. If they have something negative to say, it’s typically that President Obama and his allies in Congress aren’t being ambitious enough.

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The first decade of this century was a dud for job creation nationwide. With a weak recovery from the 2001 recession followed by the Great Recession, the nation as a whole gained almost no jobs during the decade (actually, there was a 0.3 percent increase). That made the aughts the first decade since the Great Depression without any substantial job growth. But as with so many national statistics, this national average hides enormous regional variation. And since, for most people, job markets are regional, this regional variation really matters for working people.

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Now that we’re a full week past the initial high-speed rail announcement, we’ve taken the time to resurvey some of the elements of this massive investment. Demand is one of those elements and it’s critical to projecting ridership. One method we’ve designed to measure HSR demand is corridor air travel. By offering specific boarding information, federal air data provides a stellar source of passenger travel information between any two metropolitan areas. Using the data we published back in October, here is how the corridors receiving at least $200 million stack up.

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