July 2009


They say that “sex sells.”  Here’s a pretty good effort at some selling:

Great column over at the Wall Street Journal this morning titled “Signs of Life in the Housing Market.”  The sub-head is “The good news is that the government efforts to prop up prices didn’t do much.”  The author, Gerald O’Driscoll makes a compelling case for how bubbles are corrected: they are allowed to burst.  Once the bubble has burst, market forces find the floor and start over again.  Government intervention does nothing but slow the process.

There is a bill in Congress, HR 2724, that could shape the way we build in the future.  Here’s a summary of the bill per THOMAS (Click HERE if you want the full text):

National Transportation Objectives Act of 2009 – Establishes: (1) national transportation objectives to provide a 21st century vision for the national surface transportation system, including to promote energy efficiency and achieve energy security, ensure environmental protection and safety for all transportation users, improve economic competitiveness and transportation system conditions, and provide equal access to transportation in urban, suburban, and rural communities; and (2) national transportation performance targets to meet such objectives, including to reduce per capita vehicle miles traveled by 16% and transportation-generated carbon dioxide levels by 40%, triple walking, biking, and public transportation use, increase freight transportation provided by railroad and intermodal services by 20%, and improve public safety and lower congestion costs by reducing traffic crashes by 50%.

Directs the Secretary of Transportation to: (1) develop baseline levels and appropriate data collection systems for meeting the national transportation performance targets; and (2) develop and implement a National Surface Transportation Performance Plan.

As a fan of denser urban development, this is, I think good news.  Activist organizations like Transportation for America are particularly enthused.  I am not an activitst…nor do I believe in global warming (shock! horror!) and I believe that carbon dioxide is good for plants.  I do believe in developing responsibly.  If we can build our communities in such a way that the use of fossil fuels is lessened, that is a good thing.  If we can plan our growth around nodes of public transportation and increase biking and walking, that is a good thing.  Mind you, this is not to commit sociology by site planning, but it can’t help but lead to a healthier society.  Historically, transportation funding has been all about how many roads get built.  It is about time that we start looking at other aspects of our transportation infrastructure…this is a nice first step.

Excellent article in the Washington Post this morning by uber-economist  Martin Feldstein:

For the 85 percent of Americans who already have health insurance, the Obama health plan is bad news. It means higher taxes, less health care and no protection if they lose their current insurance because of unemployment or early retirement.

Everyone is talking about it, but few of our leaders seem to be reading the bill.  Here’s a common sense approach with some principles.

Birmingham Business Journal has a piece on how contractors are re-tooling their shops to deal with the reality of the evaporation of private business.  The game in town is Federal Contracts.

Fortune Magazine has an article which picks up on the theme best put by a close friend of mine:  “Isn’t it weird how the stock market is crawling back just as commercial real estate is poised for its’ swan dive.”

I do think there will be another round of adjustment in the equities markets, probably regionally driven.  Unfortunately, this is part of the “destructive creation” trumpeted by Schumpeter.

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