April 26, 2018

If you were only to read one thing…

Economist – High prices in America’s cities are reviving the suburbs 4/19

  • “The Great Recession, combined with a mortgage crisis, hindered mobility and curtailed home-buying, dragging down the growth of the suburbs. At the same time, urban cores began to grow more quickly than they had before, inspiring questions about the future of America’s development. Academics began theorizing that perhaps the ‘back to the city’ movement would endure, driven by millennials who cared less about white picket fences than about being within strolling distance of cafés hawking cold brew and avocado toast.”
  • “Recent migration trends suggest otherwise. Analysis of United States Census Bureau data by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, shows that lower-density suburbs and exurbs—areas separated from cities by rural land—have been growing more quickly since the Great Recession, while the growth of urban cores is slowing. Since 2012, considered the peak year of the urban renaissance, the growth of urban cores has fallen by half and exurban county growth has quadrupled.”
  • “Looking at the same data, Wendell Cox, who runs Demographia, an urban planning consultancy in St Louis, found that between 2016 and 2017 nearly 438,000 net residents left the counties that included urban cores, while suburban counties of the same metro areas gained 252,000 net residents. Growth in America’s three largest metropolitan areas is sluggish. Los Angeles grew by just 0.19% from 2016 to 2017, while New York expanded by 0.23% and Chicago actually shrank by 0.14%. In 2017, five times as many Americans moved to New York’s suburbs as moved to the Big Apple. The large metro areas that have added the most people—Dallas, Houston and Atlanta, for example—have relatively small downtown areas and are dominated by residential neighborhoods that feel every bit as suburban as Stepford.”
  • The last time Americans fled the cities for the suburbs, from the 1950s to the 1980s, they were driven primarily by fear of crime. This time the migration is the consequence of the cities’ success, not their failure. Housing and rental prices in many of the country’s largest metro areas have soared, inspiring residents to pack up and move out. In Los Angeles and San Francisco median home prices are more than ten times median household incomes. The ratio is only slightly better in Boston and Seattle.”
  • “According to the National Association of Realtors, a trade association for estate agents, more than half of Americans under the age of 37—the majority of home-buyers—are settling in suburban places. In 2017, the Census Bureau released data suggesting that 25- to 29-year-olds are a quarter more likely to move from the city to the suburbs than to go in the opposite direction; older millennials are more than twice as likely.”
  • “Despite the widespread perception that millennials are allergic to cars, gardens and chain stores, they are actually less urban than the previous generation. Analysis by FiveThirtyEight, a data-journalism website, found that while the share of 25- to 34-year olds with bachelor’s degrees living in hyper-urban neighborhoods grew by 17% from 2000 to the period between 2009 and 2013, as a whole millennials were less likely to live in urban areas than young people were in 2000.”

Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice

Economist – America is on track to admit the fewest refugees in four decades 4/21

Economist – Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party is doing lasting damage 4/21

Economist – China wages war on apps offering news and jokes 4/19

Vice – San Francisco Is Fighting the Scooter Trend With Poop and Vandalism – Sarah Emerson 4/24

WSJ – Retirement Shock: Need to Find a Job After 40 Years at General Electric – Thomas Gryta 4/22

  • “Roughly $140 billion in GE stock-market wealth was lost in the past year, not just at Wall Street firms but among former employees who, like many small investors, long believed the company invincible.”

Markets / Economy

WSJ – The Next Challenge for Global Growth: Keeping Up With Demand – Richard Barley 4/24

  • “Order backlogs in manufacturing have reached their highest level since May 2004.”

Real Estate

WSJ – Daily Shot: US New Single-Family Home Sales 4/24

WSJ – Daily Shot: FRED – US New Single-Family Home Sales between $300k-$399k 4/25

WSJ – Daily Shot: FRED – US Median Sales Price for New Single-Family Homes 4/25

WSJ – Daily Shot: S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-City Index YoY Change 4/24


Economist – The humbling of India’s tycoons – Leaders 4/21

  • “A new era of Indian capitalism may be dawning. For the first time a large number of struggling tycoons face the prospect of having their businesses seized from them. The fate of 12 troubled large concerns is due to be settled within weeks; another 28 cases are set to be resolved by September. Between them, these firms account for about 40% of loans that banks themselves think are unlikely to be repaid.”
  • “Reforming the state-owned banks is the most important task of all. Their balance-sheets are where you find 70% of loans and nearly 100% of problems. Ensuring banks make commercial decisions can only realistically be achieved by privatizing at least some of them. Privatized banks would also be free to pay salaries to attract talented staff. The bosses at state-owned banks currently earn under $50,000 a year, a pittance even by Indian executive standards—and it shows.”

Other Interesting Links

Economist – A group of people with an amphibious life have evolved traits to match 4/21

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