The 1990s were a great decade nationally. Combine that with these forces I mentioned, and Chicago really had the wind at its back. It’s easy to do well in that environment. However, when the national economy took a turn for the worse in the 2000s and we experienced a “lost decade,” things were very different. It’s when the tide goes out that, as Warren Buffett likes to put it, you get to see who’s been swimming naked.
In a sense, the 2000s tough times exposed the weaknesses of Chicago in the same way that the financial meltdown blew up so many Ponzi schemes.
Aaron is in the midst of a cogent analysis, the rise and fall of Global Chicago. His essays are a lightening rod for debate between civic boosters and detractors. I'm mainly interested in the world view articulated. The lost decade revealed that Chicago has no clothes. Other candidates might include Atlanta and Charlotte. I welcome other suggestions.
The flip side of that coin are those metros not skinny dipping. A subset are regions suspected to be naked but found to be otherwise. The tide went out and a few cities were surprisingly clothed. Pittsburgh is one of the ironic winners of the recession litmus test. As for the negative nabobs, they were the ones caught streaking.