Don't look now, but Texas's economy is in pretty great shape, and it's all thanks to alternative energy and regulation. Strange but true. Daniel Gross of Slate breaks down the reasons things are bigger in Texas:
- The housing market hasn't utterly imploded like the rest of the nation's—prices are down only 7% from their 2007 peak. That's in part because abundant land has kept speculation and price appreciation down, but also because the market's more tightly regulated—the state has rules that restrict home-equity loans.
- Energy is driving the economy, but not oil—that's been cut in half since the '80s. Natural gas, production of which rose 35% from 2004 to 2008, and wind power are leading the way. The state's independent, deregulated electrical grid allows new power sources to flourish.
- Politicians may talk secession, but Texas thrives on connectivity—it's the nation's top exporter, and most of that is electronics, chemicals, and machinery, not oil.
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