High Speed Rail Dollars Flow--But Not to the Desert
January 29, 2010

With much excitement across the country, this week marked the true beginning of America’s recommitment to passenger rail service.  Eight billion dollars in stimulus funding was doled out to 31 states in every region of the country.  Those investments ranged from a massive down payment on true high-speed rail in Florida to planning grants in Kansas. However, conspicuously absent were concrete investments in the Intermountain West.  Specifically, the peanut-butter spreading missed two of the country’s 10 most traveled air corridors: Los Angeles-Las Vegas and Los Angeles-Phoenix.

The Full Text of Obama's Speech
January 27, 2010

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery The State of the Union Wednesday, January 27, 2009 Washington, DC Madame Speaker, Vice President Biden, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans: Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the President shall give to Congress information about the state of our union.  For two hundred and twenty years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty.  They have done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility.  And they have done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggl

Will Facebook Kill Off The Automobile?
January 06, 2010

Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute has a new report out today showing that the U.S. auto fleet shrunk by four million cars in 2009—the first time that's happened since World War II. All told, 14 million vehicles were scrapped and just 10 million were bought (by comparison, auto sales had been averaging about 17 million per year before 2007).

Metro Home Price Recovery: Strong, Weak, Non-existent?
December 30, 2009

Yesterday’s release of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index has economists—and probably the Obama administration—on edge. The reason: an apparent softening of demand in October, which translated into weak home price growth across the 20 markets that the index tracks. That followed stronger, more widespread price growth in the summer months. The news has stoked fears of a “double dip” in house prices and the resulting havoc it might wreak in the mortgage market. Like the economy itself, though, what you make of U.S.

College Education: Metros’ Anti-Recession Vaccine?
December 30, 2009

Are regional college education rates a stay against metro unemployment in bad times?

Boise’s Crack-Up: Say What?
December 29, 2009

Las Vegas…Phoenix…Boise? Say what? That’s a frequent reaction from reporters and others looking this month at the list of especially weak performers in the first edition of the Mountain Monitor, our new Intermountain West companion of the Metro Program’s national MetroMonitor recession and recovery index. It underscores how easily it is to miss things when it comes to regional economic health. The interesting thing, in this respect, is how different Boise’s reputation has been during this decade from that of its southerly neighborhoods.

Mapping the Mountain Recovery
December 16, 2009

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.

Where Is the Economic Recovery?
October 30, 2009

  After four quarters of decline, GDP finally grew, and at a pace--3.5 percent annually--not seen since the summer of 2007. As my colleagues Alan Berube and Bill Galston point out, and as I argued last month, signs of economic growth don’t necessarily mean a rapid recovery, a sustained recovery, or even a recovery that feels meaningful to the vast majority of Americans. But that’s not the horse I want to ride today.

The Rise of Rail in Phoenix
October 15, 2009

The emergence of the Intermountain West as a hotbed for progressive transportation initiatives continues. The latest example is Phoenix, where the new light-rail system is a big hit—bringing good news to a state facing a $1.5-billion budget deficit and some of the nation’s worst readings on economic recovery. Even before the Phoenix start-up, the vast, multi-metro “Mountain Megas” of the Rockies boasted two of the nation’s most successful rail-transit efforts—FasTracks in Denver and Trax in Salt Lake City.

The Romney-McCain Rapprochement
September 25, 2009

Via Ben Smith, I see that John McCain is hosting a fundraiser for Mitt Romney in Phoenix next week. Back in January of 2008, this would have seemed more unlikely than Obama picking Hillary as his Secretary of State. But as Sasha Issenberg reported out a few weeks ago for this Boston Globe Magazine article on Romney, Mitt did a pretty masterful job of getting on McCain's good side once McCain secured the nomination: Romney returned to his office the following week [after dropping out of the race] in a T-shirt and jeans, ready to travel to his California home.