Friday, July 16, 2010

Linkages: Left, Right, and Beyond

What we can all agree on...

Leftist blogger Matt Yglesias links to an article about the federal government shifting policy and subsidy away from an anti-urban bias:
By way of contrast, the budget of the Federal Transit Administration is about $2.4 billion. If you put $300 billion in 30-year treasuries, you’d generate enough income to quintuple that. Which isn’t to say that’s something we can or should do, but merely to observe that suburban sprawl is not a market outcome. In part it’s a question of unintended consequences, but largely it’s a result of “industrial policy” designed to boost firms that make automobiles, drill oil, and build suburban homes. Much of that is legacy at this point but to this day Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack serve to create bias against financing mixed-use projects which is why it can be more economical to build large, empty lobbies rather than fill them with stores.
Rightist blogger/columnist Ross Douthat says it is time to not become a nationwide Phoenix and stop McMansion subsidy:
By subsidizing housing in our tax code, we stifle investment in other productive industries. So on the supply side, there are obvious problems. But there are problems on the demand side as well. In the last chapter of The Great Reset, Richard Florida argues that, on top of directing capital out of more productive and innovative sectors of the economy, homeownership provides a serious drag on workforce mobility. Homeowners are much less likely to move than renters, and that problem is redoubled when their houses are underwater. One of the more surprising statistics Florida cites is from a European study that found a correlation between homeownership and unemployment; a 10% rise in homeownership amounted to a 2% rise in unemployment. It’s not a politically popular position to take, but no economist will tell you that homeownership actually helps the economy.
And somehow Joel Kotkin still believes his own nonsense.

Meanwhile, in honor of Oak Cliff celebrating Bastille Day, France has gone completely bats (all in French):
In the preliminary draft of the new National Plan of Transport Infrastructure (SNIT) controlled by the government, nearly 170 billion euros are to be invested in 20-30 years time in transport infrastructure, 90% in alternative modes other than road and air, with priority on rail.