The Fortune crystal ball

What will get the talking heads talking in 2014 -- the big deals, the inescapable trends, the newsmakers? Our well-studied predictions for the year ahead.

The next Brooklyns ... and Detroits


The American geography of prosperity has been driven by two big narratives in the past few years. On the one hand, there's Detroit, with its $18 billion in debt, pension mess, and population loss. On the other, there's Brooklyn, with its rocketing real estate prices, hip-luxe condos, and freshly foraged food stores. But what's next for this Tale of Two Cities muni-drama? Our bets for 2014's breakout and breakdown towns.

New Brooklyns

Cleveland. The city (above) is in the midst of a downtown revival that has seen not one, not two, but three Williamsburg-esque neighborhoods emerge: Tremont, Ohio City, and Gordon Square. Odds: 63%

Louisville. A thriving indie music scene, food trucks galore, and a monthly flea market (that seems "like Etsy came to life," according to Yelp) now fill this blue dot in a red state. Odds: 91%

Detroit. College-educated settlers under 35 are drawn to sub-$1,000 rents and the chance to be pioneers. A telltale sign of change: NO HIPSTER graffiti tags showing up around town. Odds: 39%

Runners-up: Chattanooga; Newark

New Detroits

Woonsocket, R.I. The onetime prominent textile hub fell victim to deindustrialization, then the recession, then severe cuts from state aid. Unemployment is now 10%. Odds: 38%

Puerto Rico. The public debt of this commonwealth is $70 billion, unemployment (at 14.7%) is higher than in any U.S. state, and labor force participation (at 41%) is the lowest. Odds: 54%

Fresno. The central California agricultural hub has little cash on hand, an ongoing gang issue, and a five-year foreclosure rate of 94.5 per 1,000 households, according to Metrostudy. Odds: 86%

Runners-up: Atlantic City; Gary, Ind.

- Last updated January 03 2014 12:30 PM ET
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