Major American cities such as New York and San Francisco face serious problems — mass migration, empty offices and declining tax revenues.
“Because cities have to balance their budget, they now need to cut spending,” said Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, professor of real estate at Columbia Business School, who studies the long-term effects of COVID-19 policies. “That means less money—for public safety, for sanitation, for transportation, for education—makes the city a less attractive place to live.”
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, remote work policies prompted employees to relocate to different states and many businesses to cut back on leases. These trends have had a direct impact on cities, which rely on tax revenues for funding, a significant portion from commercial real estate. Van Nieuwerburgh has defined this cycle of spillover effects as the ‘urban doom loop.’
From San Francisco to New York, cities across America are dealing with the budgetary consequences of vacant commercial office buildings. And regional banks, which hold a lot of commercial real estate debt, now face a credit crunch.
Watch the video above to learn more about the so-called ‘urban doom loop’ threatening American cities, and what local governments can do to avoid falling further into fiscal trouble.