- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Stanford Economics and Finance; 1 edition (August 27, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080478163X
- ISBN-13: 978-0804781633
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,266,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Boom Towns: Restoring the Urban American Dream 1st Edition
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"Walters strongly argues his thesis with cases showing the various ways politicians―often in league with private interests―have turned growth into decay . . . Urban theorists in the 'progressive' tradition insist that the problems that plague our cities can only be solved through massive infusions of government money and expert planning. Walters' book persuasively makes the opposite case: protect people's property rights, then leave things to the spontaneous order of the free market." (George Leef Regulation)
"Stephen Walters is a rarity. He's an economist with a strong sense of history. Boom Towns uses examples from Boston and San Francisco to New Orleans and Portland to show how a healthy respect for property rights has contributed to the prosperity of American cities. And then, he explains how the erosion of those rights helped produce the policies that bankrupted Detroit and that have led to widespread urban decline." (Fred Siegel author of The Revolt Against the Masses and The Future Once Happened Here)
"Walters is after that most important, and often illusive, of economic questions: the nature and causes of the wealth of a community. Whereas Adam Smith focuses his inquiry on the national community, Walters trains his analytical eye on the American city . . . Walters is well equipped to pursue this question . . . [T]he book should be read and digested by voters and city council members everywhere. It is just the sort of intellectual capital that can make the world a better place." (Matthew Mitchell Library of Law and Liberty)
"Boom Towns addresses a supremely important, yet neglected, question from a novel perspective: why do some cities go boom and others go bust? Walters' ingenious and erudite application of an economics of property rights paradigm yields a treasure trove of provocative and innovative observations. Well researched and brilliantly written, Boom Towns promises to become a classic on cities―one with a wide appeal to economists, historians, and urbanologists alike." (Steve H. Hanke The Johns Hopkins University)
"Walters' argument is well-reasoned and unusually pragmatic. There's much here for urbanists to like, but also a necessary dose of skepticism about the redistributionist approaches and subsidized real estate schemes that are so often seen as 'critical' to reviving cities. Cities, as he points out, are collections of capital and people. They can only thrive by serving our basic needs and aspirations. Boom Towns is a major contribution to the urban debate because it recognizes this." (Joel Kotkin Hobbs Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and author of The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050)
"Boom Towns is an innovative contribution to the debate about cities. The idea that we should be looking at urban policy from the perspective of capital formation is both a breath of fresh air and a critically important insight that should have broad impact." (Samuel Staley, Director, DeVoe L. Moore Center Florida State University)
About the Author
Stephen J.K. Walters is Professor of Economics at Loyola University Maryland and a Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise. He has advised aspiring and elected mayors and governors, given expert testimony in antitrust and tort cases, and consulted for diverse clients, ranging from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to major league baseball clubs.
Top customer reviews
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The Left will be troubled by the analysis because it is both accurate and counterintuitive to the 'progressive' mind. In an interview Walters did on public radio (http://wypr.org/post/boom-towns-restoring-urban-american-dream), the interviewer showed skepticism if not hostility to the idea that efforts to punish wealth were futile and counterproductive.
Walters is clear: The path to urban renewal isn't immediately obvious to many who believe in and practice traditional "urban renewal projects." It may take an outside force to create the will needed for change. And it is painful in the short run. Tax revenues will likely fall after cuts in the short run, but the recovery comes within a few years and can be dramatic. San Francisco needed state funds for two years after its tax rate cuts, but by the fourth year their revenues were ahead of where they had been under much higher rates four years earlier.
The writing is clear and engaging. The historical examples are colorful and striking. The statistics are sufficient to be convincing without overwhelming the reader or the pace. A must read for city leaders, economics students, and people who love and believe in cities.
NOTE/DISCLAIMER: Steve Walters is a colleague of mine. This is a review is based on respect for his book, his work, not on our friendship.
This book should be a bestseller. Its reputation deserves to grow, because it addresses modern, current issues in cities that aren't being widely discussed. It follows much of the logic of Jane Jacob's masterpiece "The Death and Life of American Cities" and speaks directly to the challenges of cities in 2017.
As Jane Jacobs might say, this is a book about how cities actually are, not just how they should be.
Most recent customer reviews
Full of historic examples, strong evidence and powerful concepts.