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  • Originally published 07/22/2013

    Detroit files bankruptcy (2013), Michigan defaults (1842)

    The massive bankruptcy of Detroit last week could put bondholders in jeopardy of not getting all their money back.It isn’t the first time that the holders of bonds issued in Michigan have had problems: Something similar happened 170 years ago.In the aftermath of the real-estate bubble of the mid-1830s and the bust that followed, Michigan became one of nine states to repudiate at least part of their debts....

  • Originally published 07/22/2013

    Auto troubles, race at root of Detroit collapse

    Blue-collar workers poured into the cavernous auto plants of Detroit for generations, confident that a sturdy back and strong work ethic would bring them a house, a car and economic security. It was a place where the American dream came true.It came true in cities across the industrial heartland, from Chicago's meatpacking plants to the fire-belching steel mills of Cleveland and Pittsburgh. It came true for decades, as manufacturing brought prosperity to big cities in states around the Great Lakes and those who called them home. Detroit was the affluent capital, a city with its own emblematic musical sound and a storied union movement that drew Democratic presidential candidates to Cadillac Square every four years to kick off campaigns at Labor Day rallies.The good times would not last forever. As the nation's economy began to shift from the business of making things, that line of work met the force of foreign competition. Good-paying assembly line jobs dried up as factories that made the cars and supplied the steel closed their doors. The survivors of the decline, especially whites, fled the cities to pursue new dreams in the suburbs....