Cities and the Wealth of Nations Paperback – Mar 12 1985
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From the Publisher
"It offers a concrete approach to an abstract and elusive subject. That, all by itself, makes for an intoxicating experience."--The New York Times
About the Author
Jane Jacobs was the legendary author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, a work that has never gone out of print and that has transformed the disciplines of urban planning and city architecture. Her other major works include The Economy of Cities, Systems of Survival, The Nature of Economies and Dark Age Ahead. She died in 2006.
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Top Customer Reviews
Written by an economist, this is a very unusual book. Ms. Jacobs is not hampered by orthodox preconceived notions, misleading postulated theoretical myths like utility optimization, rationality, or efficient markets. These standard phrases of neo-classical economic theory cannot be found in her book. Instead, and although her discussion is entirely nonmathematical, she uses a crude qualtitative idea of excess demand dynamics, of growth vs. decline. Her expectation is never of equilibrium. The notion of equilibrium never appears in this book. Jacobs instead describes qualitatively the reality of nonequilibrium in the economic life of cities, regions, and nations. She concentrates on the surprises of economic reality.
Jacobs argues fairly convincingly that significant, distributed wealth is created by cities that are inventive enough to replace imports by their own local production, that this is the only reliable source of wealth for cities in the long run, and that these cities need other like-minded cities to trade with in order to survive and prosper. Her expectation is of growth or decline, not of equilibrium. If she is right then the Euro and the European Union are a bad mistake, going entirely in the wrong direction. As examples in support of her argument she points to independent cites like Singapore and Hong Kong with their own local currencies. Other interesting case histories are TVA, small villages in France and Japan, other cases in Italy, Columbia, Ethiopia, US, Iran, ... .Read more ›
Contary to popular belief this notion of local as central to economic life is not opposed to glabalization. On the contrary it is opposed to the view that the nation state is central. Jacob's analysis explains economics as global network of independent local units. In this network each local unit will continuously adapt to the challenges and opportunities supplied by the needs and supplies of the other units.
Jacobs shows that only by being open to change, by being willing to adapt, by being willing to let old ways die oif they no longer serve their purpose can a city or an enterprise ensure its long term survival.
That is, I can't help but think, the reaction of internet babies, who are spoiled by the 24 hour round-the-clock updating of bloggers.
This is a printed book that gives evidence of having been written at a certain moment in history, and in a certain portion of the planet. So what? That is true of all great books, and the question for us is whether we can (a) appreciate that context while (b) taking from them something lasting.
The answer, for this book, is decidedly afirmative.
Most recent customer reviews
Good. Item arrived as described. Excellent book. Amazing visionary ideas.Published 27 days ago by Robb Cooke
An excellent read. An interesting presentation on economies how they work and could be potentially improved. Highly recommended.Published 6 months ago by K. Jenkins
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