Maybe it’s time for something other than houses and cars to drive the American economy, as they have since World War II.
The generations that left the city started that trend, but Generation Y is helping to repopulate the city and finding it less necessary to buy homes and cars.
An article in The Atlantic this month by Derek Thompson and Jordan Weissmann considers that it may not be a slow economy delaying these kinds of investments among the young but rather a more intrinsic lifestyle shift that happens to coincide with a slow economy.
Current conditions may even vindicate this purposeful frugality: Those who bite off less may be better at weathering tough times. And they might decide they like the less consumptive lifestyle even when and if times get better.
Not that buying a house is a bad thing. But it's a big thing, and big things eschewed or deferred might be a good sign.
Sprawl as we know it might end, and, if the economy gets worse, these young people won't have houses they really couldn't afford being foreclosed on.
Fewer cars driven less is an encouraging trend -- except to car manufacturers and dealers. But, once upon a time companies that made trolley cars were inched out of business. Maybe what goes around comes around.