10 ways the new economy will look different
From the rise of the tightwad to the decline of the Sun Belt, American values and industries will be reinvented as the nation comes out of the worst recession since the 1930s.
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One possible side effect: more Nobel Prizes for the US. Or, at least, there may be more competition for tenure at elite universities, as "quants," the math and physics experts who have helped create some of Wall Street's most exotic investment formulas, return to the more secure environs of academia.Skip to next paragraph
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9 D.I.Y. INVESTING
Another side effect of Wall Street's fall may be an aversion to listening to financial industry advice. Brokers, mutual fund managers, financial personalities on cable news – few of them predicted that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would lose half its value in a year. So why should we believe them now?
The decline of the expert may mean that, even more than in the past, average Americans will have to take their investment planning into their own hands. At the least, small investors may become less interested in paying the fees for the experts who run managed mutual funds. Index funds – which just follow a set formula and aren't controlled by highly paid people who consider themselves Masters of the Universe – may be on the rise.
In years ahead, the actively managed fund industry "will shrink pretty dramatically" as more investors decide its fees aren't worth it, says Darrell Duffie, a finance professor at Stanford University.
10 BUST OF THE BOOMTOWNS
In the past, deep recessions often led to historic reordering of US economic geography. The Panic of 1873 accelerated the exodus of Americans from farms to cities. Growth in suburbs was explosive after the end of the Great Depression.
This time, the end of an era of lax lending and rising home prices may result in the bust of boomtowns, those largely Southern and Western areas that have been the fastest-growing parts of the US.
"Bust" is relative in this case. What it means is that Phoenix, Las Vegas, and other sand-castle metro areas may grow less rapidly than before. Older Northern cities – particularly New York, Boston, and Chicago – may lose residents more slowly, or even grow.
There's some evidence that this trend has been under way since housing markets began to flounder almost two years ago.
"The migration bubble of the middle of this decade, fueled by easy credit and superheated housing growth in newer parts of the Sun Belt and exurbs throughout the country, seems to have popped," writes William Frey, a senior fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution, in a March 20 analysis.
In the 12 months ending in July 2008, greater New York lost only 144,000 residents, its lowest such outflow since at least 1990. At the same time, Phoenix attracted only about half as many new residents as before. Tampa and Orlando attracted fewer migrants than at any time in almost 20 years.