ARBORWEALTH: Motor City bankruptcy blues: City insolvent

Published: Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 03:15 PM.

Clarence Anthony of the National League of Cities says that Detroit ’s demise need not represent an alarm bell for municipalities in general. Conversely, Walter Mead of Bard College says Detroit is just the first huge American city to crumble. 

“The core institutions, ideas and expectations that shaped American life for the sixty years after the New Deal don’t work anymore, and the gaps between the social system we’ve inherited and the system we need today are becoming so wide that we can no longer paper them over or ignore them.”

In sunny Florida, where our own economy is powered by tourism, agriculture, international trade, the aerospace industry and military spending, Detroit’s economic collapse seems anathema to us. But imagine if South Walton’s primary industry, tourism, suddenly went under.

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill drove many local entrepreneurs out of business and initiated a frightening financial downturn in South Walton. So losing a cornerstone industry, even temporarily, is something that we can relate to, from 30A to Sandestin. 

So the ominous implications of Detroit ’s financial struggles offer lessons to all. 

Next week:  What happened in Detroit .

Margaret R. McDowell, ChFC, AIF, a syndicated economic columnist, chartered financial consultant and accredited investment fiduciary, is the founder of Arbor Wealth Management, LLC, (850-608-612,, a fee-only” registered investment advisory firm located near Sandestin. Arbor Wealth specializes in portfolio management for clients with $250,000 or more of investable assets.

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