Most Helpful First | Newest First
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wealth Creation,
This review is from: Cities and the Wealth of Nations (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, ... .
The book begins in the chapter "Fool's Paradise' with discussions of Keynsian economics and Phillips curves (the Philips curve idea is demolished convincingly by Ormerod in "The Death of Economics"), I. Fisher and monetarism, and Marxism. These were all ideas requiring equilibria of one sort or another. Also interesting: her description why, in the long run, imperialism is bound to fail, written in 1984, well before the fall of the USSR. Her prediction for the fate of the West is not better. Jacobs is aware of the idea of feedback and relies on it well and heavily. She is a sharp observor of economic behavior and is well versed in economic history. This book will likely be found interesting by a scientifically-minded reader who is curious about how economies work, and why all older theoretical ideas (Keynes, monetarism, ... ) have failed to describe economies as they evolve.
I'm grateful to Yi-Ching Zhang of the Econophysics Forum for recommending this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Age Does Not Wither the Provocative Appeal,
By A Customer
This review is from: Cities and the Wealth of Nations (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.
5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting, observant, and enduring work,
This review is from: Cities and the Wealth of Nations (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.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best,
This review is from: Cities and the Wealth of Nations (Paperback)I read this in 1984. It is one of the five best non-fiction books I have read. Really. It forced me to reconsider some long-held notions about the economic role of individuals, and their environments, in society.
5.0 out of 5 stars Specialization and Adaptation,
This review is from: Cities and the Wealth of Nations (Paperback)Jacobs writes convincingly that individual firms are not the basis of the economy. She identifies the city as a place in which economic activity is generated by a network of interlocking dependencies amkng firms as the basis of an economic analysis. She identifies these interdependencies as either being capable of adapting to change or incapable. A closed fixed system of interdependencies is the hallmark of a city (or a firm) which is ready for decline. Cities or enterprises in which the economic components are free to exploit new opportunties can adapt to challenges from outside. Jacobs charaterizes this adaptation as taking the form of a specialization of an existing economic component to supply a new need.
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Downright SCARY.,
This review is from: Cities and the Wealth of Nations (Paperback)This book is a chilling repudiation of every word of our current economic gospel of global trade. Its central premise is that the metropolitan area or city-state is a fundamental economic building block, self-regulating and self-sustaining until outside forces conspire against it -- and what are shared currencies, free-trade agreements and globalization of markets for goods and labor but those very outside forces? If Jacobs' theory is correct -- and Lord help us, but I think it is -- we're on a runaway train in exactly the opposite direction we need to be going in to restore economic stability and fairness to the world. Everyone should read this book, if only to absorb a well-argued rebuttal to the free-trade propaganda with which we're constantly bombarded.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Cities and the Wealth of Nations by Jane Jacobs (Paperback - Mar 12 1985)
CDN$ 18.00 CDN$ 12.27