What We’re Reading: Jan 31-Feb 6

Youthification, the impact of falling oil on housing, Amazon Prime, and a different kind of Monopoly money


Markus Moos

Much has been made of the wave of millennials moving to cities. In intriguing new work, geographer and urban planner Markus Moos of the University of Waterloo gives the phenomenon a name: “youthification.” Moos defines youthfication as the “influx of young adults into higher density” cities and neighborhoods. And in some ways these neighborhoods are “forever young,” where new cohorts of young people continue to move in as families and children cycle out in search of more space. The paper itself has some great maps of major metros showing where the young live.

In other millennials news, the Washington Post reports that all signs point to this generation finally entering the home buying market as a result of low mortgage rates, an improving economy, and a desire to start building equity.

Are falling oil prices good or bad for housing construction? It depends upon which economists you ask. Most contend that if oil prices stay low it will at most negatively impact only a handful of regional economies, including North Dakota some cities in Texas that are heavily dependent on the oil industry. But the rest of the nation will benefit. Some experts point out that since Texas is such a large part of the overall building market, it could have an out-sized impact.

The northern third of the U.S. is locked in a straitjacket of snow, ice and bleak weather better suited to staying at home than going out and hunting for a new one. I can almost hear it now: Remember how awful last year’s polar vortex was for the fledgling housing-market recovery? Looks like we’re in for more of the same this year.

Amazon’s Prime membership program was a high-cost, high-risk gamble – but with an estimated 50 million members, it’s proven a remarkable customer loyalty tool. The program’s ever-expanding offerings bring in loyal customers who on average spend more, but as Fortune reports, Prime remains an expensive loss leader for the company even as it grows.

In France, the makers of Monopoly celebrated the board game’s 80th anniversary be replacing some of the money with real euros. One lucky winner will find all the cash as real bank notes, worth 20,580 euros (or US$23,268).

Do you know the mortgage rate on your house? 35% of homeowners don’t.

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