Richard Florida responds

Richard Florida responds to my post A Bad Business Cycle for the Creative Economy here and here (“Brains Still Trump Guns and Oil”). He writes:

Or, you could ask just two simple questions. Which of these two places—Houma, Louisiana or Austin Texas—would you bet on to have higher living standards, higher wages, and higher home price values in the next decade or two? And if you had to choose between Killeen, Texas or the Research Triangle area around Raleigh, North Carolina as a place for you and your family to live, which one would it be?

I know how I’d answer. And I think Mandel would likely answer the same way.

I’m actually staying in good old New Jersey, land of pharma company mergers.

Still, I encourage people to read Richard’s thoughtful pieces. I’m going to come back again after I’ve had a chance to process them some more. For now,  I just want to make a couple of points.  First, an unusual combination of factors in the past decade may have worked against the Creative Economy–an innovation shortfall, combined with a rising cost of energy and the threat of terrorism. If these factors reverse, especially the innovation shortfall, the Creative Economy cities may once again have faster growth. I’m moderately optimistic–when I was recently up in Rochester speaking on innovation and economic development, I suggested that life sciences may still be a good route to prosperity in the future, even if it wasn’t over the past ten years.

However–and this is a big one–we can’t ignore the possibility that the innovation shortfall will continue, that energy will continue to rise in price, and that the military situation will become worse. In this future,  the Creative Economy arguments become less compelling.


  1. I guess when things get real bad you’d probably prefer to me in a better educated area (less likely to degenerate into guns and liquor). I have just booked tickets to come to the US in September and I am really wondering what things will be like then. I get a real sense that we are now 1930. I got a little worried and bought some US dollars two weeks ago. I am already close to 10% ahead which suggests to me that some investors are losing a lot of money. Government austerity = deflation when the private sector is stll deleveraging. I hope I’m wrong but I can’t see the macro forces resulting in anything good at the moment.

    • CompEng says:

      I think where you want to live highly depends on where you are in life. Schools, type and quality of jobs, weather preference, safety, culture, whether you’re trying to build equity or cash out: there are many factors to consider even when choosing within a state.

    • I once had 2 Israeli first-time business visitors. Taking them to visit a facility in west central Iowa was a joy — “Ahh, so this is middle America! The white frame houses on quiet streets! Look, snow!!!” — and a terror — they walked on Mississippi River ice in the middle of a snow storm! Then, without consulting anyone they drove on the weekend to see the rumored loveliness of Door County, Wisconsin, only to be bitterly disappointed that virtually nobody was there and the scenery was unappealing sullen gray.

      Then there was the time I blundered with my German visitor into a section of Ft. Worth, Texas, that was so obviously and deeply poverty stricken that the poor guy gasped. I still feel bad about that.

      Then there was the Brit who insisted on going to the top of the Sears Tower while it was cloudy and raining.

      I think that shopping or dining at nice restaurants will make you believe the recession is over, as would the buzz in most any major university town or metropolitan night life district. Are you from Australia, first time here? September will still give you a glimpse of vegetation, not as lush as in summer, that is nearly the same but surreally different from Australia’s. Don’t be lured into the 5,000 mile grand tour. Consult the locals.


  1. […] In fact, the whole country is basically “creative” (see map). Some example misfires in this approach are described. In his  approach, health care workers area “creative […]

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