1) Ed Glaeser writes at the Boston Globe on Detroit, “Sensible people don’t incur debts during their peak earning years and then expect to pay the bills when their income starts to fall. Detroit did just that. Detroit’s debt overhang doesn’t just impose overly high costs on the city’s now modest tax base. It also scares off new businesses. What firm wants to own part of that obligation?”
2) I’m on the Cato Daily Podcast talking about Detroit and municipal bankruptcy and writing about how creating a charter city could help the city’s population and economic growth challenges at The Umlaut.
3) Ilya Somin points to the role of eminent domain in slum clearance and urban renewal efforts as a key contributor to the city’s decline.
4) Cost overruns aren’t just for transit. Construction on a Wayne County jail was halted after costs went 30-percent over budget, and the county is now seeking proposals from developers to buy the seven acre site. This is a fortunate development from an urban development perspective because anything a private investor builds will be better for downtown Detroit than a prison.
5) On an uplifting note, Sandy Ikeda writes at Wabi Sabi about the role of cities in the market process:
Living cites and successful markets bring intellectually and culturally diverse people together to their mutual advantage, but they also create conditions in which vast amounts of novel information—about science, technology, religion, music, the arts, and lifestyles—get dispersed very rapidly. That in turn allows all kinds of people, the ordinary and the extraordinary, to experiment and to make new connections among all that information, generating even more diversity and attracting even more people. In this way, cities become “incubators of ideas” and economic growth. The process is highly dynamic, but also very messy and, yes, in a sense inefficient. Most experiments fail. But someone who fails in a city, unlike her counterpart in less-urbanized cultures, need not starve as a result, and there is more likely to be some new opportunity just around the corner. We see the successes that drive innovation, but the failures are important, too.