Salient to Investors:

Fareed Zakaria said:

  • The distinctive feature of the American system is how undemocratic it is. Three co-equal branches of government and the one with the final say on many issues is composed of 9 unelected men and women.
  • The Senate, the most unrepresentative upper house in the democratic universe, save Britain’s powerless House of Lords, is a broken institution. From its absurd rules about filibusters to its representation. California with 38 million people has the same representation in the Senate as Wyoming with 576,000.
  • But the US system of checks and balances has generally worked well.
  • Democratic governments abusing individual rights, ignoring minority parties and eroding checks and balances is the problem in the Arab world and many developing countries. However, the good news is that political groups, student movements in those societies are fighting this kind of illiberal democracy. What we are observing might look like crisis and breakdown, but may turn out to be the road to better government.
  • For the first time in history, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in cities, and will increase to 60 percent by 2030 and 70 percent by 2050. China is planning to move a 250 million people from rural to urban areas by 2025. The US is already 80 percent urban. People are moving to the cities at a rate of one percent each year.

Leigh Gallagher at Fortune Magazine said:

  • People are going to cities for a reason and to get away from suburbs. The suburbs that will do well in the future will have urban cores, a place to get out of your car and walk, a place that’s pleasing, just like years ago when people yearned for their own yard and a picket fence and a car.
  • Detroit is in many ways an outlier. Detroit is a great model of how to shrink because otherwise you have abandoned buildings and more crime.

 Joel Kotkin at Chapman University said:

  • The vast majority of people who live in metropolitan areas live in suburbs. Between 2000 and 2010, 90 percentage of the growth was in the suburbs. Suburbs are the predominant choice of the vast majority of people over their 30s and the vast majority of people who have kids.
  • Suburbs are changing but people still want backyards, and 80 percent want single family homes. With immigrants, particularly Asian, moving to the suburbs the quality of the food has gotten much better and much more interesting, and in certain areas the schools extremely good.
  • If we end up with a very, very low birth rate, that may tilt things more toward cities.
  • Detroit has one of the highest concentration of engineers in the US – who happen to live overwhelmingly in the suburbs – and significant immigration so can definitely be saved.
  • The great advantage of America is its different environments: the tech capital of the world in the Bay Area, the energy capital of the world in Houston, the media capital in New York, and entertainment in L.A. All very different places that can be run differently.

Bruce Katz at Brookings said:

  • Cities and suburbs together are the future because we are a metropolitan nation and when we use the city globally, what we are really talking about are these vast metropolitan areas. The US is the most metropolitan nation: 84 percent live in cities and suburbs producing 91 percent of GDP.
  • Detroit is an extreme case of urban decline, but even there you can see in the core of revival.

Jennifer Bradley at Brookings said Detroit was in a perfect storm of many bad things, but it is not emblematic of other places: a northeast Ohio or a Houston are much more emblematic of the power and potential of America’s metros.

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