Explaining Southern California's economy

Business Insider: Tech bubble? What tech bubble?

DLD Conference 2012 - Day 2

Johannes Simon/Getty Images

Henry Blodget, CEO and Editor-In Chief of Business Insider, speaks during the Digital Life Design conference in Munich, Germany. He doesn't think there's a tech bubble.

Business Insider just wrapped its "Startup 2012" conference in New York yesterday, where it's promoting its new BI Intelligence service, which is being spearheaded by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, Alex Cocotas, and BI CEO Henry Blodget. 

They put together an entertaining presentation about whether there's a tech bubble a-swellin' up right now, getting ready to pop and make us scream and keen and cry out loud. (Is there a bubble? BI Intel says, resoundingly, "Nope!") But before I get into that, and a Twitter exchange I had two weekends ago with Leigh Drogan of Surfview Capital, about the whole bubble thing, I would be somewhat journalistically remiss if I didn't express one significant reservation about this whole BI Intel project.

For starters, I am Business Insider's number-one fan, in L.A. at least. Henry and his crew have figured out how to stitch together the wonky econoblogsosphere with the aggregational accumen of the Huffington Post and the jaunty and at times borderline slapdash (in a good way) tone of the early Gawker. I think the site looks like hell, but that's part of its charm. And anytime anything happens in the business and economy world — and even these days the wider world (SEO is alive and well) —I often check BI to get their take. Joe Weisenthal is a complete maniac, in the very best bloggy sense of that sleep-deprived sobriquet.

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How to save America: Build better cities

Expo Park/USC Station

Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Expo Park/USC Station.

Felix Salmon has an interesting post today about how China has managed to keep it together depsite very trying economic times. The bottom line? Healthy investment in urban infrastructure. Which has fueled a boom in the creation of service-related jobs — just what you want if you need to think long-term about moving your economy away from agriculture and manufacturing. 

Cities, therefore, are good. Of course, China can do fine with a mix of agricultural and manufacturing labor at its core, with services a distant dream. The U.S., on the other hand, needs to push for service employment, as that's where the high incomes are. And we need high-income jobs to define America's future. Felix offers his formulation for how to get them:

How do you create service-industry jobs? By investing in cities and inter-city infrastructure like smart grids and high-speed rail. Services flourish where people are close together and can interact easily with the maximum number of people. If we want to create jobs in America, we should look to services, rather than the manufacturing sector. And while it’s hard to create those jobs directly, you can definitely try to do it indirectly, by building the platforms on which those jobs are built. They’re called cities. And America is, sadly, very bad at keeping its cities modern and flourishing. 1950s-era suburbia won’t cut it any more. But who in government is going to embrace our urban future?

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