Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Say Whuh?? Charlotte is better than New York City??

I more disagree than agree with this recent commentary in the Wall Street Journal (which is about par for the course), but it’s food for thought.


Joel Kotkin’s main premise is that high rents cause businesses to play-it-safe in the “superstar” cities (like New York, San Francisco, London) while true innovation and job growth is quietly happening in the “bridesmaid” cities (like Charlotte, Denver, Phoenix).

In recent years, Houston has replaced NYC as the nation’s energy capital. And little Charlotte has quietly become a major banking center passing up contenders such as Chicago, LA and San Francisco--only New York is bigger (for now).

And when I was in NYC last week I couldn’t help but notice big chains are everywhere. You get your coffee at Starbucks; a quick burrito at Chipotle. There was even a large-box K-Mart in Manhattan.

By the way these 3 companies originate from Seattle, Denver and Detroit respectively. All bridesmaids.

And presumably this applies to aspiring homeowners too. Imagine you’re a mid-level Wall Street analyst with a mortgage payment. Are you going to be rocking the boat at work? Well you’re probably going to keep your head down and sign off on your boss’ upcoming report on Enron’s awesome profit outlook.

And remember the Manhattan Project? It didn’t even happen in Manhattan—where’s the truth in advertising!? Anyway, food for thought.

One more thing, Kotkin seems to inject politics into his analysis where it just doesn’t belong—with a few gratuitous swipes at the fabled San Francisco hot tub liberal (this is the Wall Street Journal op-ed section after all). Are all-powerful liberals really running the world from their hot tubs, and if so, what’s keeping their glasses of Chardonnay from getting steamed up while they ban the bible and hate our troops?

Joel Kotkin can’t stand up to the awesome power of aging hippies, and like a coward leaves these important questions unanswered.

No comments: