Metro Policy

With today’s release of the president’s 2013 budget, media types of all kinds will start to draft hypotheticals about what will or won’t happen.* But within the transportation portion, there’s one proposal that contains little mystery.  And in this case, it’s the president’s own pen that will cause one of his aviation goals to wait at least four years. Just last week, Congress addressed aviation and delivered a major piece of bipartisan legislation--and all signs point towards the president signing it in short order.

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Washington is paralyzed by politics and debt, but states and regions are moving to renew the drifting U.S. economy themselves.

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In a New York Times op-ed, Christina Romer, the former chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, argues--contra her former boss--that there is no compelling justification for policies aimed at supporting U.S. manufacturing. She lays out and rejects a few theoretical justifications for supporting manufacturing, including the idea that there are large positive externalities--large social benefits relative to what private companies can capture--tied to the sector. Her arguments are unconvincing.

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After more than 20 temporary extensions and a near-complete agency shutdown, the country is finally on the doorstep of long-term aviation legislation. Cue the applause. They also didn’t skimp on the impact, authorizing $64 billion in investment over four years. And like with most pieces of bipartisan legislation, there are elements for everyone to love and hate. But for us, it’s what’s missing that’s the most aggravating. Let’s start with what legislators did include.

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The Manhattan Institute just released a new study by economists Ed Glaeser and Jacob Vigdor called “The End of the Segregated Century.” It cheerfully notes that segregation is at its lowest level since 1910 and that all-white neighborhoods “are virtually extinct.” Their report seems accurate enough in describing the changes and is consistent, in many respects, with other research. Yet, in focusing exclusively on change, the report fails to convey that segregation is still quite high throughout much of America.

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The media didn’t take notice. President Obama didn’t mention it in his State of the Union. Nor did he emphasize it on his post-address swing-state tour stop in Nevada. But the outlook for job creation in some of the country’s hardest hit metropolitan areas turned sunnier earlier this month when President Obama issued an executive order that contained several shrewd and long-overdue measures to promote travel and tourism in the United States.

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It was good to hear strong shout-outs for clean and renewable energy sourcing as part of the balanced energy stance promoted in President Obama’s State of the Union speech this week.   We’ve long agreed that the “all of the above” energy approach Obama championed last night could be desirable so long as it is just that--oriented to the balanced development of all sources including American renewable and clean energy as well as fossil fuel resources. In that nexus lies a politically defensible sweet-spot notwithstanding the tough politics of the energy debate. And yet, the President left out a

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Here at the Metro Program we have long advocated a “bottom-up” approach to economic development.  Such an approach calls for a major reorientation of federal-state-metro relationships--one that empowers metros and regions with real flexibility and resources so as to enable them to chart their own courses. And so we have often looked abroad for ideas as we have worked on concepts, such as Metropolitan Business Plans (coming soon: Metropolitan Export Plans) and our proposals for aiding and abetting the self-organized initiatives of innovation clusters. For example, we have closely followed devel

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Yesterday, the World Bank released a new less optimistic forecast for global growth in 2012. It warrants a look back at the year that just passed. 2011 was marked by slower growth in both developed and developing countries. The protests of Arab Spring, Japan’s catastrophic earthquake, and the Eurozone’s debt problems contributed to slower growth around the world. But in the midst of a sluggish uneven recovery, a new economic order is being built, one that has major implications for U.S.

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Between the debt crisis in the Eurozone, the sluggish U.S. recovery, and the after effects of the Japanese earthquake, 2011 was a tough year for many of the traditionally robust regions that drive national economies. But not all. The Metropolitan Policy Program’s new Global MetroMonitor, a study of economic growth in the world’s 200 largest metropolitan economies, reveals that some metro areas grew quite rapidly last year. They were almost all, however, located in developing regions of Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.

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