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China’s City Clusters: Pioneering Future Mega-Urban Governance

The coordination of development within city clusters in the Peo­ple’s Republic of China (PRC) is a striking case for organizing institutions, planning, infrastructure, and economic development across many local administrative boundaries in very large urban re­gions, some as large as European countries. To benefit from the many efficiencies that could be reaped from such coordination,…

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Uber’s Path of Destruction

Since it began operations in 2010, Uber has grown to the point where it now collects over $45 billion in gross passenger revenue, and it has seized a major share of the urban car service market. But the widespread belief that it is a highly innovative and successful company has no basis in economic reality. An examination of Uber’s economics suggests that it has no hope of ever earning sustainable urban car service profits in competitive markets…

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The New Shame of Our Cities

Perhaps no song has been belted out more often than the one that claims that America is moving “back to the city.” Newspapers, notably the New York Times, devote enormous space to this notion. It gained even more currency when the Obama administration sec­retary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Do­novan, pro­claimed that the suburbs were “over” as people were “voting with their feet” and moving to dense, transit-oriented urban centers. This celebration perhaps reached its crescendo when Amazon initially announced its move to Crystal City, Virginia, and Queens…

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The New Silk Road and the Return of Geopolitics

The grand design came in 2013 from President Xi Jinping himself. The goal was to launch the project “One Belt One Road,” or OBOR, across and around Eurasia, and to ensure mutually beneficial cooperation among all participating countries. At the time, the announcement of OBOR received little if any attention from European observers, distracted as they were by the difficulties of emerging from the euro crisis and the foreign policy challenges of Iran and Russia…

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Managed Obsolescence: Homelessness in America’s Gilded Cities

It was last July, somewhere around Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway, when I first noticed the RVs. Miles and miles of vintage cream-colored RVs parked bumper to bumper along the inland shoulder of the PCH. My first thought was that they must have belonged to tourists spending a day at the beach. But they…

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Share Buybacks and the Contradictions of “Shareholder Capitalism”

In the jargon of finance, America is suffering from a capital allocation problem. The country seems incapable of making the necessary investments to fuel future productivity and growth, or to ensure widespread prosperity. At the government level, public spending on basic research and development as well as infrastructure investment has declined significantly over the past…

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The Economics—and Politics—of Broadband

Today it is hardly possible to imagine an internet without its biggest players. Google’s market share in search is somewhere between 70 percent and 90 percent (depending on whether services like YouTube and Google Maps are included). Facebook has more than two billion active users. Netflix alone is responsible for more than a third of…

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Reconstruction and the End of History

The years between 1865 and 1877 form the period in American history known as Reconstruction—reconstruction, in this case, meaning the rebuilding of the federal Union which had been dis­rupted by the attempt of eleven Southern states to secede from that Union in order to protect legalized slavery. It might have been a new era of…

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Shopping for the Sublime

When Bruce Springsteen—that avatar of a blue-collar America fighting for its life against the riptide of history—asked on his 1981 single “The River” whether a dream is a lie if it doesn’t come true or if it’s something worse, the question was rhetorical. This is America, after all. Dreams and lies are similar things, each with a force derived from desire…

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Revitalizing the Rust Belt

Large swaths of Pennsylvania, New York, and the Midwest have stagnated for decades, resulting in unrecovered job losses nearing 60 percent in some parts of the region since the 1950s. Meanwhile, the languishing U.S. Rust Belt serves as an instrument of blame in a divisive political climate. While solutions remain elusive, the region continues to…

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