World cities

Notice of a new title to join the literature on the economies of cities,

. He writes:


I have sought to draw on over 25 years of experience working within London policy and economic development organisations, and on interviews with around 100 leading thinkers about the past, present and future of London, including commentators and leaders in New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, Singapore, and São Paulo.

London’s path to becoming a leading world city is not well understood. The assumption is that the Big Bang, London Docklands, the EU, or global finance is the key explanatory factor. The reality is richer and more surprising. The book sets out in clear detail both the catalysts that have enabled London to succeed and also the qualities and underlying values that are at play: London’s open-ness and self-confidence, its inventiveness, influence, and its entrepreneurial zeal. London’s organic, unplanned, incremental character, without a ruling design code or guiding master plan proves to be more flexible than any planned city can be.”

[amazon_image id=”1118609743″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Making of a World City: London 1991 to 2021[/amazon_image]

I’m looking forward to reading it, especially having commissioned relatively recently Bridget Rosewell’s


[amazon_image id=”1907994149″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Reinventing London (Perspectives)[/amazon_image]

A while ago I posted a list of books on urban economics, and this literature keeps growing (no doubt there were many omissions from the list too). It is a subject whose time has come – the politics is slowly catching up with the economics. Recent days have brought news of an impending significant devolution of powers from Whitehall/Westminster to Manchester. It’s a first step in decentralising one of the most centralised OECD economies, and part of the global relocation of economic activity as a network around key urban hubs. Perhaps I’m biased, but among all the UK cities other than London, I think Manchester has the best shot at growing into a world city.

A couple of sessions at the upcoming Festival of Economics in Bristol touch on this broad theme – as do other Festival of Ideas events this autumn.


2 thoughts on “World cities

  1. Pingback: World cities | Homines Economici

  2. Here’s an interesting article:

    It argues that city size often follows a Zipf’s Law against rank in many countries. So the 2nd biggest city should be half the size of the largest, the 3rd a third the size etc.

    This doesn’t apply in Britain. The Birminghams and Manchesters are smaller than the Law suggests.

    I know it’s just an empirical observation, and not a law of nature – but maybe our second-tier cities are too small.

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