This is delusional. True, California still has a lead in everything from farm products to films to high-tech manufacturers. But it has been slowly losing ground--to both other states and overseas competitors. CEOs and top management might stay in the Golden State, but they increasingly send outside its borders all jobs that don't require access to the local market, genius scientists or talented entertainers.
"There's a feeling in California that we will come back, no matter what, because we are California," Watkins says. "The leadership is swallowing Panglossian Kool-aid. Some very smart people, a beautiful climate and nice beaches is not enough to guarantee a strong recovery." Joel Kotkin is a presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University. He is executive editor of newgeography.com and writes the weekly New Geographer column for Forbes.