The gilded Apple

August 19, 2013

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After more than a decade, the Bloomberg Era in New York City is coming to an end in December. Ken Auletta spoke to the the 71-year-old, three-term mayor, whose personal fortune is said to be $27 billion. The NYT, a paper which Bloomberg reportedly “detests,” also has a sprawling retrospective on the era this weekend, focusing in part on the city’s economic transformation.

You can think of Bloomberg’s economic legacy as the city’s transition from gilded to even more gilded. Real estate prices have soared — the median sale price for Manhattan condos and co-ops jumped 69% in a decade, and even buyers with $1 million in cash are frustrated. Still, Auletta writes,  “there are record numbers of homeless people, unemployment is high, and working- and middle-class incomes have stalled.”

“The top 1 percent of earners in New York make nearly 40 percent of the total income of city residents, nearly twice the national figure,” Ginia Bellafante writes, up from 27% in when Bloomberg took office in 2002. Bloomberg tells Auletta the city has created 350,000 entry-level jobs in tourism, and has lowered poverty. The Fiscal Policy Institute, Auletta notes, says poverty in NYC hasn’t budged in the city three decades, and food stamp usage has soared since 2007. Bloomberg tells Auletta the city’s built some 165,000 units of affordable housing, though Choire Sicha notes that this is the kind of building which doesn’t actually involve building anything.

Bloomberg-era New York is presumably healthier (if only thanks to smoking and soda bans); bikier, thanks to more bike lanes and Citibike (which is mostly thanks to Janette Sadik-Khan); and safer, even if that’s been accompanied by controversial stop-and-frisk policies. Here’s Auletta on just how much safer NYC has become:

Between 2001 and 20012 rapes dropped by twenty-five per cent, robberies by twenty-eight per cent, and burglaries by forty-one per cent; the murder rate fell thirty-six per cent, to a record low of four hundred and nineteen murders in 2012, down from twenty-two hundred and forty-five in 1990. Bloomberg says that he expects murders to be in “the low three hundreds” this year, half the number of the year he was elected, 2001.

A third of the city has been rezoned under Bloomberg, and it’s been demographically transformed as well. Richard Florida looks at a map of New York City’s various socio-economic classes, and concludes that “most striking is the extent to which the working class has disappeared from the region’s geography.” NYC’s neo-Bohemians (read: N+1 editors) are also worried about disappearing. Emily Badger writes that reversing this trend will be the next mayor’s real challenge: “expand the geography of desirable, healthy, safe neighborhoods while also expanding the population of locals who can afford to call those places home.” — Ryan McCarthy

On to today’s links:

The resource constraints behind the scenes of the Egypt crisis – Quartz

Must Read
“What I learned from getting shot” – Brian Beutler

Right On
In praise of laziness, and why the Dutch have a word for “meeting sickness” – The Economist

JPMorgan allegedly hired the children of influential Chinese officials, shocking no one – DealBook
JPMorgan’s legal bills could be $6.8 billion above its reserves – WSJ

Public pension funds are increasingly deciding they don’t need Wall Street – NYT
How price-to-earnings ratios can be deceiving – WSJ

EU Mess
Germany saved 41 billion euros from the euro crisis, according to one estimate – Der Spiegel

Big Questions
Is economics more like history than physics? – Scientific American

“Fatas and Mihov have an Anna Karenina view of booms and busts” – Paul Krugman

Redrawing the Manhattan skyline to reflect the city’s jarring income inequality – Fast Company

Right On
More on why Jeff Bezos bans PowerPoint presentations – Philanthropy Daily

Patton Oswalt spent the weekend trolling the web with two-part tweets – Daily Dot

The Fed
Neither Summers nor Yellen have said how they’d build consensus at the Fed – Jon Hilsenrath


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