The biggest problem lies in retiree health care, the analysis concludes, with many cities having set aside no money to pay these costs. Cincinnati has done the best job, funding 85% of retiree health costs, with a 2009 plan that raised deductibles, co-pays, and beneficiaries' out-of-pocket costs.

Detroit's situation is going to be muddled in questions of race and class, as has always been the case there, but the bigger question is how much of the pain will be borne by workers, how much will be borne by bondholders, and whether the city that emerges from the process becomes a worthwhile investment again.

While the Brookings Institute claimed a few years ago that cities are now growing faster than suburbs a more recent Trulia analysis, based on census tract density, indicates that, while the most densely populated urban centers are growing faster than other areas, low-density suburbs are still growing faster than cities.

So Detroit may have a long way to go. But for now it's an awesome bargain, with tons of family-sized homes being offered, even at the city's edge, for under $60,000. I took that kind of deal in Atlanta 30 years ago next week, and came out fine. Maybe you will, too.

At the time of publication, the author had no investments in Detroit.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and a tech reporter since 1982. His specialty has been getting to the future ahead of the crowd, then leaving before success arrived. That meant covering the Internet in 1985, e-commerce in 1994, the Internet of Things in 2005, open source in 2005 and, since 2010, renewable energy. He has written for every medium from newspapers and magazines to Web sites, from books to blogs. He still seeks tomorrow from his Craftsman home in Atlanta.

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