"Detroit Is Dying Because GM Stuck Around, New York City Booms Because Nabisco Did Not"

John Tammy:

When depressed U.S. cities are talked about in the media, the explanation for their decrepitude is nearly always described through the prism of a departed industry, a natural disaster, or overseas competition.  Pittsburgh is allegedly a shadow of its former self because the steel industry is no longer vibrant,  Galveston, TX supposedly never recovered from a hurricane back in 1900, Flint, MI and Detroit are depopulated because the U.S. car industry has been eclipsed by more efficient global producers, and then Selma, Alabama’s limp economy was recently reported in the New York Times as a function of still-healing scars from the 1960s Civil Rights struggles.

The problem with the diagnoses offered up is that they don’t measure up to the most basic of logical and observable realities.  Particularly the industry explanations for a city’s demise.  Indeed, the departure or decline of already established forms of work would far more likely signal an economic renaissance whereby the economy of a city evolves with the times, with abundant wealth the result.

Mr. Tammy's forthcoming book get a nice review here.

Finally, an elegantly rendered book that makes the dismal science engaging, with real-world examples from Hollywood, rock ‘n roll, and sports, including actor Ben Affleck,  the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, and the Dallas Cowboys. Real life stories of people struggling with the real life consequences of government officials who too often view the economy in the abstract.

"Changing Climates of History"

Interesting look at recent work by prominent historians on the role of climate in history.

For the most part, these five senior historians use climate change to discuss economic and political history. Unexpected climate shifts, or brief climate shocks, brought crop failure, hunger, unrest—these arguments appear time and again in these five books. In particular, climate shifts help explain economic distress and political violence.