And the last time that the census estimates were released with respect to race, age and Hispanic status, the estimate in the growth of Hispanics from—I think it was from ’06 to ’07—was 927 Hispanics.
Nine hundred twenty-seven?
Yeah. So the Hispanic growth has stopped. White loss has stopped. Asian growth is continuing. And if you look at the toddler class, particularly in Manhattan, white toddlers—one of the analyses that ran in The Times was, median household income of households of non-Hispanic white toddlers in Manhattan, [ages] 0 to 4, was $285,000.
So some of the younger people who probably used to immediately go to Scarsdale or Pelham Manor or Greenwich or something seem to be staying for a while. And this year there seems to be a tremendous rush on getting slots in kindergarten and first grade.
What if the local economy tanks, particularly financial services?
The last time we had a market crash was in ’87. Real estate followed it down—a lot.
Did the city’s demographic makeup change much?
Well, I think it has been changing since 2000. The immigration was going apace for much of the decade of the ’90s, and, according to the Pew study, it started slowing down in ’97. So immigration has slowed down; people are having babies and staying in New York. If this trend is sustained, it’s a sea change!
It almost seems that to live relatively comfortably in Manhattan and in parts of Brooklyn right now, you have to be involved in financial services.
Financial services or the high end of law.
Right. And if that starts to dip, it reverberates across the whole city.
It will. And there’s a historical precedent for this, which was after the crash of ’87.
We used to go to a Christmas party that was [thrown by] a friend of mine in the financial sector, a woman who was on the hatchet committee at Merrill Lynch—and then she got fired. I think she worked at Chase for a while; when she went to Chase, the elevator starter had been a broker in the ’60s.
Are you kidding me?
Where was the Christmas party?
They would run it every year. So I remember when the markets were going very good—my wife and I are both academics—and they’d say, ‘Oh, well, you’re an academic. You don’t make much money, do you?’ And then a little later, when the markets were down, it was, ‘Oh, you’re an academic. You have tenure, don’t you?’
How will New York City be remembered from 2001 to the present? Like, the 1950s were extreme growth. The 1970s were a slow decay.
Let’s say we have a real problem. Things like Yankee Stadium, Atlantic Yards, Citi Field—the way in which those things have been financed … you’re looking at gimmicks that are kind of like gimmicks that happened before the last financial crisis, in the 1970s, where all the tax revenue goes to finance development projects and you don’t have any extra spillover. If it turns out we have a downturn, that may be what the Bloomberg years are remembered for: putting up a lot of projects that turned out to be very difficult to finance. …
If you had a real downturn, things could be really bad because you have all of these obligations that have been rolled up and it would be hard, probably, to meet them; so that’s sort of like the dark view.
If, on the other hand, even if we have a fairly short—what’d they call it—adjustment in the real estate market but the long-term growth continues, then this will all probably look like a real good idea.