Economists’ Predictions for New York City

The New York Times asks five financial experts to predict the city’s economic future, providing plenty of fodder for optimists and pessimists alike.

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Beneath a rather bleak 1992 photograph of a riot-destroyed storefront in Brooklyn, the New York Times today ran a piece containing predictions about where the city’s economy is headed. Is it worse now than it was during the 1970s fiscal crisis?

They start with the most bearish view, that of John Tepper Marlin, former chief economist at the City Comptroller’s Office, who says that this go-round could be worse than not just the 1970s crisis, but the Great Depression, thanks to the global nature of the recession and the perilous state of the state’s finances as well as the city’s. Nicole Gelinas, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, says that the city is capable of bouncing back, but only if government instills in people a firm understanding that their lifestyles are going to have to change in a drastic way. (She also points out the disconcerting stat that the number of tourists fell for the last two quarters, by roughly 5 percent, compared with the previous year.)

Charles Brecher, Director of Research at the Citizens Budget Commission, is a touch more optimistic: He makes the salient point that while the numbers might be beginning to look like they did in the 1970s, New York now is fundamentally a much more desirable place to live than it was then. This is important to note: Some longtime residents might consider leaving because they’ve found work elsewhere, but it’ll take a lot to stem the perpetual tide of young idealists that flock to NYC, especially now that some landlords are offering free rent.

Ronnie Lowenstein, Director of the Independent Budget Office, says that New Yorkers should pay closer attention to the Treasury Department’s bank bailout than the stimulus package, as the health of the banking and securities industry is so integral to the health of the city itself. And Carol O’Cleireacain, who was Finance Commissioner in the Dinkins Administration, says everyone needs to just calm down. The immediate availability of bad news, she says, is making everyone panic. Echoing Brecher, she notes that New York is hardly the one-industry town that, say Elkhart, Indiana, is:

New York, she said, “is a magnet for talent: for smart, enterprising, ambitious, innovative people, not only from this country but from around the world. Everyone wants to be here, and I think that sets us apart from virtually any other city.”

Quite a mixed bag. Anyone have their own ideas?

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Tags: new york citybudgets

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