China smashes solar energy records, as coal use and CO2 emissions fall once again

In one sector after another, the US is falling behind. The US isn’t losing its global leadership, its walking away.

We are witnessing a historic passing of the baton of global leadership on technology and climate from the United States to China. The new U.S. administration has said it will abandon climate action, gut clean energy funding, and embrace coal and oil — the dirty energy sources of the past that experts say can’t create a large number of sustainable new jobs. At the same time, China is slashing coal use and betting heavily on clean energy, which is clearly going to be the biggest new source of permanent hig

Source: China smashes solar energy records, as coal use and CO2 emissions fall once again

In Shadow of Manhattan, a Long-Neglected City Is Having a Moment

Newark has been “coming back” since I went shopping there with my grandmother. This time it looks like it might actually succeed. Great transportation (PATH, AMTRAK, and NJ Transit train station), some great parks and neighborhoods, a great museum, corporate anchors, legal center, Rutgers University and an administration that wants to learn from Hoboken and Jersey City’s mistakes.

 

 

For years, downtown Newark’s Military Park, barren and surrounded by vacant buildings, was a symbol of the despair that set in after the 1967 riots. Now it’s at the center of hope that a long-sought recovery for New Jersey’s biggest city may finally be taking hold.

Source: In Shadow of Manhattan, a Long-Neglected City Is Having a Moment

Paul Krugman: Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan is one big scam – Salon.com

Paul Krugman: Donald Trump's infrastructure plan is one big scam

Trump’s plan to rebuild the country’s infrastructure is really a scheme to enrich wealthy people…..

There is also the fact that private investors will have no interest in building infrastructure that can’t be turned into a profit center. Privatizing these public projects is a gratuitous hand out to select investors, who would be aquiring public assets for “just 18 cents on the dollar, with taxpayers picking up the rest of the tab.

Source: Paul Krugman: Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan is one big scam – Salon.com

The Push to Revitalize Urban Alleys Across the United States Is Fostering Community and Sustainability – CityLab

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For places that were meant to be unseen, alleys take up a not-insubstantial amount of space. A 2011 report by Mary Fialko and Jennifer Hampton, graduate students at the University of Washington*, found that in Seattle, there are 217,000 square feet of public alley space downtown, 85 percent of which are underused. The report estimated that reinvigorating alleyways could increase the number of total public space in the city by 50 percent.Alleys, too, are vital players in a city’s overall ecosystem. As the need for cities to rely on more sustainable approaches has become more pressing, the proliferation of trash and flooding in alleyways has come to be seen not only an aesthetic blight, but an environmental one.And as Daniel Freedman of the Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative says, there’s a lot of crossover between sound environmental practices and livability. Revitalizing an alleyway creates an opportunity to introduce green infrastructure, but also, Freedman says, it invites the surrounding community to collaborate on improvements and make use of the space.

Source: The Push to Revitalize Urban Alleys Across the United States Is Fostering Community and Sustainability – CityLab

The Train That Saved Denver

In recent years, Denver has been storming national rankings lists: Brookings Institution demographer William Frey’s best (2011) and second best (2013) city for attracting millennials; the best city for college graduates (2014, Apartments.com); the largest increase in residents with college degrees (U.S. Census, 2014); the best commercial real estate market (Coldwell Banker, 2015); the second best for launching a startup (2014, Forbes); and, this year, U.S. News and World Report’s best place to live.

“We’ve become a top destination for millennials, and FasTracks is a significant part of that,” says Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who championed the expansion of rail transit as Denver’s mayor in the mid ‘aughts.

And it all happened, Hickenlooper and others note, because Coloradans across the base of the Front Range were willing to set aside crippling rivalries and make some big collective investments in themselves.

Source: The Train That Saved Denver

Must-read: Narayana Kocherlakota: “The World Needs More U.S. Government Debt” – Equitable Growth

The world wants U.S. debt and the U.S. needs infrastructure repair. Seems like a natural match unless you’re a Republican or fellow-traveling Democrat.

Must-Read: Narayana Kocherlakota: The World Needs More U.S. Government Debt: “Are government-imposed restrictions holding back the U.S. economy?… …In a way, yes: The federal government is causing great harm by […]

Source: Must-read: Narayana Kocherlakota: “The World Needs More U.S. Government Debt” – Equitable Growth

This chart shows how federal housing policy benefits the rich more than the poor – Vox

Housing tax breaks for the rich are worth more than housing subsidies for the poor.

Source: This chart shows how federal housing policy benefits the rich more than the poor – Vox

Justin Trudeau says Liberals plan 3 years of deficits to push infrastructure – Politics – CBC News

Finally someone gets it. Borrow when rates and debt are low to invest in future growth – duh! Just ask any CEO or anyone for that matter – except politicians and knee-jerk anti-government types (unless they’re the beneficiaries of course.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says a Liberal government won’t balance the books for another three years, but will double spending on infrastructure to jump-start economic growth.

Source: Justin Trudeau says Liberals plan 3 years of deficits to push infrastructure – Politics – CBC News

Sprawl costs US more than a trillion dollars a year | Better! Cities & Towns Online

Sprawl costs the American economy more than $1 trillion annually, according to a new study by the New Climate Economy. That’s more than $3,000 for every man, woman, and child.

These costs include greater spending on infrastructure, public service delivery and transportation. The study finds that Americans living in sprawled communities directly bear $625 billion in extra costs. In addition, all residents and businesses, regardless of where they are located, bear an extra $400 billion in external costs.

via Sprawl costs US more than a trillion dollars a year | Better! Cities & Towns Online.

Crony Capitalism or Government Doing Its Job

Since Adam Smith, capitalist economists (for the most part) have agreed that government (or other social institutions) should fill the gaps that the private sector can not address or would not do so as efficiently and/or effectively as the public sector. The Ex-Im Bank is a government agency that provides credit support to U.S. exporters. A major beneficiary is Boeing – airplanes being one of the U.S.’s largest export industry. Supporters argue that the Ex-Im Bank supports jobs, economic growth, helps the U.S. trade balance, and actually generates a profit to the Treasury while doing so.

While critics are correct that the program may create trade distortions, other countries have similar programs so a unilateral disarmament by the U.S. wouldn’t level the playing field but simply tilt in more in favor of non-U.S. producers such as Airbus.

In addition part of the Ex-Im Bank’s role is to help small companies enter the international market and I would argue that there is a gradient between trade promotion and trade distortion.

Legitimate criticisms include one by Delta that the U.S. government is providing a subsidy via Boeing/Ex-Im Bank to foreign airlines who then have a competitive advantage over U.S. airlines causing economic harm (including job losses) in that industry. Thus the impact of the Ex-Im Bank needs to be measured not just on the primary effects but also on the secondary effects. An also interesting issues is raised in the Comments section of the Bernstein column by Roger Anderson who points out that in recent years Boeing has had a negative federal income tax rate while competitor General Dynamics has paid at a 29% tax rate. So just how large is the real subsidy of Boeing and is it fair to its U.S. competitors?

So will Congress address this complicated issue with the intelligent nuanced analysis that it deserves? Probably not. Joe Nocera of the NY Times reports on Rep. Hensarling’s view of the Ex-Im Bank:

Representative Jeb Hensarling, a Republican from Texas who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, gave a speech to the Heritage Foundation. Hensarling is a Tea Party favorite. His core view is that better government is less government, and that there is nothing government can do that the private sector can’t do better.

Hensarling’s speech was about economics, which, of course, meant it was about wasteful government subsidies and “crony capitalism.” He tossed off what he felt were examples of each — the failure of Solyndra; the continued existence of Fannie Mae; the bailouts of Wall Street and the auto industry — before landing on a government organization that he described as being the “poster child of the Washington insider economy and corporate welfare.”

“Its demise,” he went on, “would clearly be one of the few achievable victories for the Main Street competitive economy left in this Congress. I believe it is a defining issue for our party and our movement.

The Latest Tea Party Piñata

As if there are Mom & Pop stores selling jetliners and jet fighters in the local strip mall.

Cantor and Crony Capitalism | Jared Bernstein | On the Economy.