Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Make Knowledge, Not Widgets

Zero manufacturing employment: Coming soon to a regional economy near you.

Theme: Economics of knowledge production

Subject Article: "The pioneering continent: Innovation is increasingly local."

Other Links: 1. "The life, death, and rebirth of BlackBerry’s hometown."
2. "Silicon Valley Is Already Dead: Waterloo's tech boom went bust, revealing the rise of the intangible economy."

Postscript: "Does Rust Belt Manufacturing Have a Future?":

However, it should be obvious that we cannot run an economy by giving each other haircuts or exchanging chats and photos. Information has no value in isolation. Uber is worthless without cars, Airbnb worthless without housing.

Michigan Ross Professor Bill Lovejoy has the value trend backwards. The worth of a good is less and less about the manufactured product. Which means manufacturing companies must find ways to reduce labor costs in order to be profitable. See agriculture.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Please Dehumanize Cancer Care

Decreasing the cost of health care is economic development.

Theme: Eds and meds

Subject Article: "IBM Aims to Make Medical Expertise a Commodity: Big Blue thinks its Jeopardy! champion Watson can make money by offering health-care providers new expertise without hiring new staff."

Postscript: The economic geography of health care:

Across Greater Minnesota, nursing homes are in a bind, trying to keep nurses from being scooped up by better paying jobs, often at hospitals. That's especially true in southeast Minnesota where nursing home workers are often lured away by higher-paying jobs and working conditions at Mayo Clinic.

Hospitals that export services and conduct research can pay employees more. Such institutions are fishing in a global labor market for talent. Most health care providers are fishing in a local labor market for talent. Wages must be kept down, operating costs low. Few places, such as Rochester, Minnesota, can center an economy on eds and meds.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Hubris of Social Science

I'd like a dollop of ketchup on that paradigm.

Theme: The politics of policy

Subject Article: "The Ketchup Conundrum: Mustard now comes in dozens of varieties. Why has ketchup stayed the same?"

Other Links: 1. "The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception."
2. "Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life."

Postscript: Ideologically, social science can or it cannot. Likewise, urban planners can or they cannot. People debating policy usually fall into one of those two camps. A third way, to which I subscribe, allows for social science to improve. With the failures of logical positivism in mind, I believe the time has come to recognize that social scientists and urban planners can.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Stranger Danger: How Community Stifles Innovation

Free-range kids are economic development.

Theme: Geography of innovation

Subject Article: "‘Free-range’ kids and our parenting police state."

Other Links: 1. "How helicopter parents are ruining college students."
2. "Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)."
3. "Why Designers Should Care About the Mechanics of Mixing."
4. "My own private metropolis."
5. "#LittleKnownFact Calvins dad and @Cliff_Clavin_ are related somehow."

Postscript: More evidence that greater density doesn't catalyze innovation:

Could a designer reverse-engineer a public space to support social mixing by cracking the code of places that already mix people well? We know the opposite can be true: Plenty of urban spaces suppress interaction and empathy between people by seeming unsafe, uncomfortable, just plain too crowded … or not crowded enough. But if we really understood the mechanics of mixing, could we design for it?

"Alone in a crowd" is a cliché for a reason.

Friday, April 10, 2015

'The Handmaid's Tale' Is Economic Development

In Europe, women are valued for their fertility, not productivity.

Theme: Demographic decline

Subject Article: "Sex Education in Europe Turns to Urging More Births."

Other Links: 1. "Haunted by The Handmaid's Tale: It has been banned in schools, made into a film and an opera, and the title has become a shorthand for repressive regimes against women."
2. "An Immodest Proposal: Foucault, Hysterization, and the 'Second Rape'."
3. "Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale – in pictures."
4. "Where there's smoke: If you think there's something ditsy about Julie Delpy, prepare for a sock in the mouth. She puts Ryan Gilbey straight on acting, men, and why her new script features plenty of castration."
5. "Want More Women Working in Tech? Let Them Stay Home."
6. "I'm gonna lean in and put this on some muscle tees."

Postscript: I tagged this post about demographic decline as "Intangible Economy". The realities of a declining birth rate demand better productivity, greater workforce participation, and pushing retirement to an older age. The intangible economy (i.e. eds and meds) concerns these outcomes. Instead of growing GDP, we should aim to generate more disposable GDP per capita. Without getting into the nuances of amassing intangible capital, think of getting more out of education and health care while spending less on it.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Oil: Resource Curse or Launchpad?

Lawyers striking it rich in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Theme: Economic development

Subject Article: "St John's: Big-city practice, small town lifestyle."

Other Links: 1. "The Natural Resource Curse: A Survey."
2. "Borderlines: Oh, (No) Canada!"
3. "What Dutch disease is, and why it's bad."

Postscript: A few weeks ago, a Texas magazine asked me to write about the impact of low oil prices on the migration to the state. Migration patterns are surprisingly resilient. Over time, persistently low oil prices would reshape U.S. migration. But we are probably talking decades, not months. Domestic migration is more dynamic than international migration. Thus, I expect Houston to continue to boom as an immigrant gateway. More importantly, the oil boom has gathered considerable brain power and wealth in Texas. I see it as the new California concerning the aspirational geography of choice for the location-fickle. Texas is much more than a petro-state, at least within the Triangle of metros the attract people from across the nation and around the world.