Mobilizing existing resources to meet the current and future needs of cities
Crumbling streets and bridges. Poorly performing schools and other social services. These are common themes in cities, which too often struggle just to keep the lights on, much less make the long-term investments necessary for future generations.
It doesn't have to be this way. This book by two Swedish experts in public finance describes a new way of restoring economic vitality and financial stability to cities, using steps that already have proven remarkably successful in some cities. The key is unlocking hidden social, human, and economic wealth in cities. A focus on public wealth shifts attention and resources from short-term spending to longer-term investments that can vastly raise the quality of life for many generations of urban residents.
A crucial first step is gaining a proper understanding of the city's balance sheet-an understanding that that too many cities now lack. With this in hand, taxpayers, politicians, and investors can better recognize the long-term consequences of political decisions and make choices that mobilize real returns rather than relying on more taxes, debt, or austerity.
Even poor cities own large swathes of poorly utilized real estate, or they control underperforming utilities and other commercial assets. Most cities could more than double their investments with smarter use of these commercial assets. Managing the city's assets smartly through the authors' proposed Urban Wealth Funds-at arms-length from short-term political influence-will enable cities to ramp up much needed infrastructure investments.
Dag Detter is Managing Director of Detter & Co, specializing in unlocking public wealth. Previously he was the President of Stattum, the Swedish government holding company, and Director of State Enterprises at the Ministry of Industry. Stefan Foelster is Director of the Reform Institute in Sweden and Associate Professor of economics at the Royal Institute of Technology, in Stockholm. He has been the chief economist at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, and the author of many books on economic growth and social developments. Detter and Foelster are the authors of The Public Wealth of Nations, named by both The Economist and The Financial Times as among the best books of 2015.
Contents: Foreword Preface 1. The Investment Trap 2. Why Some Cities Fail 3. Turbo Cities 4. Taking Control of a City's Balance Sheet 5. The Urban Wealth Fund: A Conduit for Maximizing Value 6. Succeeding with Urban Wealth Funds: Some Case Studies 7. Shrinking the Social Debt of Cities 8. Boosting the Value of Human Assets 9. Reinventing City Democracy Notes Index