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Cities and the Wealth of Nations Paperback – Mar 12 1985


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Books ed edition (March 12 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394729110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394729114
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 12 x 1.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #68,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Professor Joseph L. McCauley on Feb. 21 2001
Format: Paperback
"Any settlement that becomes import-replacing becomes a city." Cities and the Wealth of Nations, Jane Jacobs
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, ... .
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By A Customer on April 3 2003
Format: Paperback
Some of your other reviewers have said that they believe this book is outdated.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Wow. Jacobs is so adept at explaining the complex currents of global, national and local economies that even the casual reader will be spellbound. The book is simultaneously radical (she essentially repudiates all modern macro-economic theory) and reasonable. This book is a great asset to anyone who wishes to comprehend the world around them.
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