June 21, 2022

“An artist, if he is truly an artist, is only interested in one thing and that is to wake up the minds of men, to have mankind and womankind realize that there is something greater than what we see on the surface.” Marvin Gaye

I am, as I suspect many of you are, incessantly curious about the dynamics that are shaping our new economy. I read a lot, call peers in other cities and around the world, talk to economists, listen to podcasts from opinion makers, and talk to CEOs, friends, and family. Why are gas prices what they are? When will the housing market normalize? What is driving consumer behavior in our country and around the world? What are the looming geopolitical risks that are influencing the global economic outlook? Basically, what’s going on?

First, I seek the perspective of those on the front lines, notably economic developers, finance professionals, and CEOs. These personal discussions are perhaps my favorite way to draw insight into what is happening locally, nationally, and globally. The challenges faced by those on the frontlines, and the obstacles they see firsthand for themselves and their clients, are a great barometer for making decisions. The insights gained from talking to those that finance small and minority businesses, work on foreign direct investment, lead businesses and economic development organizations from both rural and metro areas are always helpful.

Second, there are a few posts that have provided information that I think is helpful. Kyla Scanion’s compilation of insights and analysis about the key drivers of the economy is insightful and provides a lot of different perspectives. For a visual of the global shift that is occurring and where it is going, it is helpful to take a look at this Visual Capitalist post from a few weeks ago.

Vaclav Smil’s books are some of my favorites to look at long-term trends. His latest, How the World Really Works, is provocative. I would add The Power of Geography from Tim Marchall for a virtual trip around the world. For shorter reads, I love Gallup’s blog, Bloomberg’s CityLab, and as a long-time member of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, I enjoy their perspectives on real estate issues. Joel Kotkin, Richard Florida, and Ed Glaeser are all great thinkers about cities and regions and are well worth the time to consume.

My encouragement is to get a diverse view, make your own judgments, and share your thoughts with others. Listen and try to understand their perspectives. These times call for us to aggressively seek understanding and points of view and to pursue big solutions. Let’s have a great week!

-Kenny McDonald