Conspiracy Theorist 9/29

Dayton’s version of the skyscraper curse

By Mark Luedtke

The skyscraper curse notes that, whenever a new, tallest building is built in a region, an economic bust generally follows. Mises Institute scholar Mark Thornton explains, “Record-setting skyscrapers are a prominent example of how distortions in interest rates (i.e., actual rates below ‘natural’ rates) alter the economy’s structure of production in an unsustainable manner, but obviously it is not the building of a very tall building that causes an economic crisis. The most general impact on the economy is that the structure of production is reoriented toward longer run and more roundabout production processes. Record-setting skyscrapers usually require a multitude of new technological processes and systems all of which have to have their own production, distribution, installation, and maintenance systems. This is symptomatic of the entire economy in an artificial boom.”

So many skyscrapers are being built, there’s a shortage of skyscraper glass. Artificially low interest rates like the Federal Reserve’s current zero interest rate policy make skyscrapers appear profitable when they wouldn’t appear so if interest rates were determined by the market.

But this doesn’t apply only to skyscrapers. Artificially low interest rates prompt building booms everywhere, and the buildings don’t have to be skyscrapers. We see that everywhere locally now.

Dayton’s leftist rulers recently issued a press release declaring the Water Street project a success. Talk about premature. The claim was based on PNC bank moving from Third and Main to the new Water Street building at Patterson and Monument, but all moving did was further hollow out downtown. In fact, by moving from a prime location to a worse location, PNC’s move harmed the community.

The new bank stinks. Parking is inconvenient. It’s hard to get into and out of. They placed a patch of ankle-breaking barrier rocks between the parking lot and the building. It’s a liability nightmare designed to keep customers away. While the old PNC bank had an inviting, open lobby and long counter for serving customers, the new bank is narrow and uninviting. It provides only two service stations, and customers are required to wait until a bank teller comes to greet and escort them down the narrow hall to a station. The tellers actively discourage people from depositing checks in person, promoting using ATMs, where they can and do lose deposits. It’s bizarre.

One potential motive for the move could be a tax advantage. The hyper-local downtown tax cut profits at their previous location. That tax drives businesses to lower tax locations, hollowing out downtown, and PNC could be one. It’s ironic our rulers call PNC moving out of downtown a downtown success.

Looking at the Water Street malinvestment, you might think Dayton’s rulers are unaware the city has a glut of empty and underutilized buildings downtown because of high taxes. But the development was never about economics. It was designed by Dayton’s central planners to advance their personal, political interests. Funded by tax dollars and artificially low interest rates, this white elephant is doomed when the bust hits.

You can look at the Water Street webpage at to see the leftists’ vision. If you’re a minority and thought Democrats worked on your behalf, they thank you for your vote, but according to the vision displayed on the website, minorities are not welcome at Water Street. There are no blacks, no gays and no poor people. Old people aren’t welcome either. This utopian farce looks more like Logan’s Run—where everybody is executed on their thirtieth birthday—or a Goebbels propaganda sheet, than Dayton. They stole money from blacks, gays, poor and old people in the form of taxes to develop Water Street, but none of them are welcome in their lily-white utopia.

There’s also the obligatory young man riding a bicycle in flip-flops. In leftist fantasyland, investors, entrepreneurs, capitalists and workers don’t matter. Hipsters riding bikes in flip-flops top their agenda. Our rulers either have no idea who lives and works in Dayton, or they hate them.

The global economic collapse has started. The real estate bubble in Calgary and Edmonton just burst, and the bust is coming here. In keeping with the skyscraper curse, it will likely hit Dayton before the Water Street project is completed. It’s destined to become another expensive, underutilized, poorly maintained eyesore like so many other local buildings. This squandering of resources, making us all poorer, is the legacy of central planners. But our rulers profit from the pain they inflict on us, so to them, Water Street is already a success.

The views and opinions expressed in Conspiracy Theorist are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

Mark Luedtke is an electrical engineer with a degree from the University of Cincinnati and currently works for a Dayton attorney. He can be reached at

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at

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