Have you heard of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai?
It’s the tallest skyscraper in the world at 828m (2,717 ft), and it was completed in 2009. The price tag was a whopping $1.5 billion, making it one of the most expensive buildings of all time.
For these bold projects to get the go ahead, global financial conditions have to be just right. Record-breaking skyscrapers can take multiple years to build, and things can change drastically from start to finish.
In this case, construction of the Burj Khalifa started in 2004. By the time it was completed, however, the financial markets were in ruins. Lehman had collapsed, and rescue efforts such as TARP and QE were in full force to try and stop the bleeding. Between October 2007 and March 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 55% of value.
The crisis didn’t only bankrupt financial markets – it also took its toll on competing projects that aimed to unseat the Burj Khalifa as the world’s height record-holder. For example, One Dubai Tower A was supposed to be a whopping 1,008m (3,307 ft) tall – but it was shelved in March 2009 once it was clear that global financial conditions would not be improving any time soon.
Do Newly Built Skyscrapers Signal The Top of the Stock Market?
Could record-setting skyscrapers signal economic over-expansion and a misallocation of capital?
EWM Interactive, a subscription service focused on technical analysis, thinks so. The following infographic follows the “Skyscraper Curse” through six different market tops and subsequent crashes over the past century.
It is gigantic in size, so please click here or the below image to access the legible version:
EWM Interactive sums up the infographic with these words:
In the market, extreme optimism results in price bubbles. One of the real-life manifestations of extremely positive social mood is the construction of enormous buildings. Market tops and skyscrapers often seem to emerge simultaneously, because both phenomena are the result of the illusion of infinite prosperity. But extreme psychological conditions do not last very long. That is the reason why record-breaking buildings, whose construction starts during a market bubble, are often completed after the bubble’s collapse.
That said, there are counter-examples that show the “skyscraper theory” is not perfect.
The recession after World War I, the recession of 1937, and the recession in the early 1980s were not correlated with any record-breaking skyscraper projects. An empirical test in 2015 that looked at the theory found that record-setting skyscrapers did not correspond directly with the business cycle.
Let’s hope that they are right, since the Jeddah Tower – a 1,008m (3,307 ft) monster in Saudi Arabia – is expected to unseat the Burj Khalifa as the world’s tallest building by the year 2019.
The Biggest Tech Talent Hubs in the U.S. and Canada
6.5 million skilled tech workers currently work in the U.S. and Canada. Here we look at the largest tech hubs across the two countries
The Biggest Tech Talent Hubs in the U.S. and Canada
The tech workforce just keeps growing. In fact, there are now an estimated 6.5 million tech workers between the U.S. and Canada — 5.5 million of which work in the United States.
This infographic draws from a report by CBRE to determine which tech talent markets in the U.S. and Canada are the largest. The data looks at total workforce in the sector, as well as the change in tech worker population over time in various cities.
The report also classifies which metro areas and regions can rightly be considered tech hubs in the first place, by looking at a variety of factors including cost of living, average educational attainment, and tech employment levels as a share of different industries.
The Top Tech Hubs in the U.S.
Silicon Valley, in California’s Bay Area, remains the most prominent (and expensive) U.S. tech hub, with a talent pool of nearly 380,000 tech workers.
Here’s a look at the top tech talent markets in the country in terms of total worker population:
|🇺🇸 Market||Total Tech Talent||% Talent Growth (2016-2021)|
|SF Bay Area||378,870||13%|
|New York Metro||344,520||3%|
|Salt Lake City||55,930||29%|
America’s large, coastal cities still contain the lion’s share of tech talent, but mid-sized tech hubs like Salt Lake City, Portland, and Denver have put up strong growth numbers in recent years. Seattle, which is home to both Amazon and Microsoft, posted an impressive 32% growth rate over the last five years.
Emerging tech hubs include areas like Raleigh-Durham. The two cities have nearly 70,000 employed tech workers and a strong talent pipeline, seeing a 28% increase in degree completions in fields like Math/Statistics and Computer Engineering year-over-year to 2020. In fact, the entire state of North Carolina is becoming an increasingly attractive business hub.
Houston was the one city on this list that had a negative growth rate, at -2%.
The Top Tech Hubs in Canada
Tech giants like Google, Meta, and Amazon are continuously and aggressively growing their presence in Canada, further solidifying the country’s status as the next big destination for tech talent. Here are the country’s four tech hubs with a total worker population of more than 50,000:
|🇨🇦 Market||Total Tech Talent||% Talent Growth (2016-2021)|
Toronto saw the most absolute growth tech positions in 2021, adding 88,900 jobs. The tech sector in Canada’s largest city has seen a lot of momentum in recent years, and is now ranked by CBRE as North America’s #3 tech hub, after the SF Bay Area and New York City.
Vancouver’s tech talent population increased the most from its original figure, climbing 63%. Seattle-based companies like Microsoft and Amazon have established sizable offices in the city, adding to the already thriving tech scene. Furthermore, Google is set to build a submarine high-speed fiber optic cable connecting Canada to Asia, with a terminus in Vancouver.
Not to be left behind, Ottawa has also taken giant strides to increase their tech talent and stamp their presence. The country’s capital even has the highest concentration of tech employment in its workforce, thanks in part to the success of Shopify.
The small, but well-known tech hub of Waterloo also had a very high concentration on tech employment (9.6%). The region has seen its tech workforce grow by 8% over the past five years.
Six out of the top 10 cities by tech workforce concentration are located in Canada.
Evolution of Tech Hubs
The post-COVID era has seen a shifting definition of what a tech hub means. It’s clear that remote work is here to stay, and as workers migrate to chase affordability and comfort, traditional tech hubs are seeing some decline — or at least slower growth — in their population of tech workers.
While it isn’t evident that there is a mass exodus of tech talent from traditional coastal hubs, the rise in high-paying tech jobs in smaller markets across the country could point to a trend and is positive for the industry.
While more workers with great talent, resources, and education continue to opt for cost-friendly places to reside and work remotely, will newer markets like Charlotte, Tennessee, and Calgary see a rise of tech companies, or will large corporations and startups alike continue to opt for the larger cities on the coast?
Animation: Visualizing U.S. Interest Rates Since 2020
U.S. interest rates have risen sharply after sitting near historic lows. This animation charts their trajectory since 2020.
Visualizing Interest Rates Since 2020
In March 2020, the U.S. Federal Reserve cut already depressed interest rates to historic lows amid an unraveling COVID-19 pandemic.
Fast-forward to 2022, and the central bank is grappling with a very different economic situation that includes high inflation, low unemployment, and increasing wage growth. Given these conditions, it raised interest rates to 2.25% up from 0% in just five months.
The above visualization from Jan Varsava shows U.S. interest rates over the last two years along with its impact on Treasury yields, often considered a key indicator for the economy.
Timeline of Interest Rates
Below, we show how U.S. interest rates have changed over the course of the pandemic:
|Date||Federal Funds Rate (Range)||Rate Change (bps)|
|July 27, 2022||2.25% to 2.50%||+75|
|June 16, 2022||1.50% to 1.75%||+75|
|May 5, 2022||0.75% to 1.00%||+50|
|March 17, 2022||0.25% to 0.50%||+25|
|March 16, 2020||0.00% to 0.25%||-100|
|March 3, 2020||1.00% to 1.25%||-150|
In early 2020, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates from 1% to 0% in emergency meetings. The U.S. economy then jumped back from its shortest recession ever recorded, partially supported by massive policy stimulus.
But by 2022, as the inflation rate hit 40-year highs, the central bank had to make its first rate increase in over two years. During the following Federal Reserve meetings, interest rates were then hiked 50 basis points, and then 75 basis points two times shortly after.
Despite these efforts to rein in inflation, price pressures remain high. The war in Ukraine, supply disruptions, and rising demand all contribute to higher prices, along with increasing public-debt loads. In fact, a Federal Reserve estimate suggests that inflation was 2.5% higher due to the $1.9 trillion stimulus, an effect of “fiscal inflation.”
Impact on the Treasury Yield Curve
The sharp rise in interest rates has sent shockwaves through markets. The S&P 500 Index has steadily declined 19% year-to-date, and the NASDAQ Composite Index has fallen over 27%.
Bond markets are also showing signs of uncertainty, with the 10-year minus 2-year Treasury yield curve acting as a prime example. This yield curve subtracts the return on short-term government bonds from long-term government bonds.
When long-term bond yields are lower than short-term yields—in other words, the yield curve inverts—it indicates that markets predict slower future growth. In recent history, the yield curve inverting has often signaled a recession. The table below shows periods of yield curve inversions for one month or more since 1978.
|Yield Curve Inversion Date||Number of Months||Maximum Difference (10 yr - 2 yr bps)|
*Data as of September 9, 2022
Source: Federal Reserve
For example, the yield curve inverted in February 2000 to a bottom of -51 basis points difference between the 10-year Treasury yield and the 2-year Treasury yield. In March 2001, the U.S. economy went into recession as the Dotcom Bubble burst.
More recently, the yield curve has inverted to its steepest level in two decades.
This trend is extending to other countries as well. Both New Zealand and the UK’s yield curves inverted in August. In Australia, the yield spread between 3-year and 10-year bond futures—its primary measure—was at its narrowest in a decade.
What’s On the Horizon?
Sustained Treasury yield inversions have sometimes occurred after tightening monetary policy.
In both 1980 and 2000, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates to fight inflation. For instance, when interest rates jumped to 20% in 1981 under Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, the U.S. Treasury yield inverted over 150 basis points.
This suggests that monetary policy can have a large impact on the direction of the yield curve. That’s because short-term interest rates rise when the central bank raises interest rates to combat inflation.
On the flip side, long-term bonds like the 10-year Treasury yield can be affected by growth prospects and market sentiment. If growth expectations are low and market uncertainty is high, it may cause yields to fall. Taken together, whether or not the economy could be headed for a recession remains unclear.
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