There are many reasons for people to relocate within the United States. Traditionally, it has been because of physical environment, job opportunities or family ties. Recently there have been reasons added to that such as the cost of housing or the nature of the government in the state or locale in which one is relocating. A new reason came to my attention which I found quite fascinating.
I was watching a well-known news/finance show where a guest, Donald Luskin, was being queried by the host. Mr. Luskin founded a company, Trend Macrolytics, after a long and distinguished career in the investment sector of the economy.
Three years ago, Mr. Luskin relocated his business to Dallas from Chicago. This had been his second stint in in Chicago. During the 1980’s he moved to Chicago for the opportunities, especially in the commodities area of investments. The Chicago Board of Trade was vibrant at the time. Someone could start as a runner at the Board, work hard, get noticed as someone to nurture along, and eventually end up as a trader on the floor making a very nice living.
There were low entrance barriers to success. You could dress right, smile, show a commitment to work, and become a rags-to-riches story.
Mr. Luskin stated that he can see it in the eyes of the people in Dallas. They feel a potential to improve their circumstances wherever they may be working. In Chicago, he said that was gone. You look into their eyes and get the sense they know their lower-level position is their destiny. There is no hope.
Luskin stated a long while ago he divided people into two groups: ones with no upward mobility and those with a clear path to success. In Chicago there is no help. There is nowhere to go. He stated Chicago “has become Detroit; they just don’t know it yet.”
We all know what has become of Detroit. Significant abandonment by elements of the auto industry. The city became a hollowed-out mess with neighborhoods of abandoned homes.
Luskin feels the energy in his new home in Dallas-Fort Worth. The energy sector and other industries are presenting many opportunities for upward mobility. Currently thriving sectors are technology, financial services, and the defense industry.
To affirm his observations regarding Chicago, Boeing has moved its headquarters to North Virginia. Caterpillar has moved from Chicago to Dallas. These are well-known international companies with significant amounts of employees in their headquarters that have been relocated.
Citadel, a huge hedge fund, has likewise moved its operations from Chicago to Miami with anywhere between 1,400 and 2,000 employees going along. Ken Griffin, head of Citadel, cited crime and taxes as the main reasons for the relocation. He told of his colleagues being held up either at gunpoint or knifepoint on their way to work.
A friend of mine is from Chicago and returns frequently to visit family. He told me on Michigan Avenue (one of the premier shopping streets in the world and the main thoroughfare of Chicago) there is a lineup of police cars mid-day. That is to confront the out-of-control crime in the city.
We have long heard of problems in many municipalities across the United States. In these cities and their respective states, you can readily cite the leadership. The people of Chicago put in place Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Kim Foxx, the Cook County State’s Attorney. These are the kind of people that brought Detroit to its knees. Then there is the doozy of a governor, J.B. Pritzker. He must have missed discussions at family meals about sound economic policy.
As Luskin says you can see it in their eyes. He told me “When there is opportunity, upward mobility, the way people act accelerates that opportunity into a virtuous cycle. When there is upward mobility, everyone you meet might be someone who can help you move up, so you are always nice, always positive, always helpful, always respectful, always putting your best foot forward. That attitude creates bonds of commitment and trust that are essential to the environment of opportunity. It is therefore a self-fulfilling prophecy. The opposite is true too. When people think there is no opportunity, they act rude, bitter, resentful, untrusting. Even if there were opportunity, that would destroy it. “
If you see that blank stare of hopelessness, it is time to get out. In Dallas, you see people knowing they have opportunities. Where would you rather live?