James Forsyth

The next American geography

The next American geography
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Richard Florida’s Atlantic cover-story on how the current recession will re-shape America is a thought-provoking read. He argues that the coming economy requires a different kind of geography:

“the economy is different now. It no longer revolves around simply making and moving things. Instead, it depends on generating and transporting ideas. The places that thrive today are those with the highest velocity of ideas, the highest density of talented and creative people, the highest rate of metabolism. Velocity and density are not words that many people use when describing the suburbs. The economy is driven by key urban areas; a different geography is required


In short, it will be a more concentrated geography, one that allows more people to mix more freely and interact more efficiently in a discrete number of dense, innovative mega-regions and creative cities. Serendipitously, it will be a landscape suited to a world in which petroleum is no longer cheap by any measure. But most of all, it will be a landscape that can accommodate and accelerate invention, innovation, and creation—the activities in which the U.S. still holds a big competitive advantage.”

Florida thinks that a key part of this new geography is going to be having more people rent than buy. He notes that the importance of home-ownership in American culture ties people to declining places when they would be better served by moving elsewhere. But even if the government removed the tax incentives to buy a home, I still think people would want to do it—it is such an important part of the American dream.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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