Why London is still central to UK Economic Plans

According to a Brookings Institute and JPMorgan Chase study, our idea of a global city has become outdated in a rapidly urbanizing world in the midst of seismic technological change. A handful of financial centers, like New York, London and Tokyo, no longer drive world economy. Instead a “vast and complex” network of cities – some surprisingly small, others mid-sized – powers the international flow of goods, services, people, capital and ideas.

The report, ‘Redefining Global Cities – The Seven Types of Global Metro Economies’ sees only two UK cities mentioned – London and Birmingham.No mention of Manchester or Leeds. Whilst other nations, particularly Pacific facing, are growing at an enormous rate, including several in China.

Cities most familiar to Europeans fall in to the ‘International Middleweights (26 mid-sized cities across globe)’ and includes historic, culturally significant political hubs: Brussels, Belgium; Copenhagen-Malmö, Denmark/Sweden; Frankfurt, Germany; Hamburg, Germany; Karlsruhe, Germany; Köln-Düsseldorf, Germany; Milan, Italy; Munich, Germany; Nagoya, Japan; Rome, Italy; Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Netherlands; Stuttgart, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Bratislava, Slovakia; Athens, Greece; Barcelona, Spain; Berlin, Germany; Birmingham, UK; Kitakyushu-Fukuoka, Japan; Madrid, Spain; Melbourne, Australia; Montreal, Canada; Perth, Australia; Sydney, Australia; Tel Aviv, Israel; Toronto, Canada; and Vancouver, Canada. Only London and Paris, of all the ‘Global Giants’ are European cities alongside Los Angeles, USA; New York, USA; Osaka-Kobe, Japan; and Tokyo, Japan.

Of note though is the number of conurbations that get bundled together – for example, Malmo/Copenhagen and Cologne/Dusseldorf. Urban geography is redefining our city boundaries. Smaller European cities are merging, even across international boundaries in the case of Malmo and Copenhagen whereas elsewhere megacities are growing fast in Brazil, China, India.

It certainly looks like that Europe – US – Japan axis is set to change though. The Asian Anchors (Five pacific-oriented powerhouses) are Beijing, China; Hong Kong, SAR, China; Moscow, Russia; Seoul-Incheon, South Korea; Shanghai, China; and Singapore (no real surprises) but the list of Emerging Gateways (28 business and transportation entry points for emerging markets) are cities on the up – growing in population, trade and cultural significance and include – Ankara, Turkey; Brasilia, Brazil; Busan-Ulsan, South Korea; Cape Town, South Korea; Chongqing, China; Delhi, India; East Rand, South Korea; Guangzhou, China; Hangzhou, China; Istanbul, Turkey; Jinan, China; Johannesburg, South Africa; Katowice-Ostrava, Poland/Czech Republic; Mexico City, Mexico; Monterrey, Mexico; Mumbai, India; Nanjing, China; Ningbo, China; Pretoria, South Africa; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Saint Petersburg, Russia; Santiago, Chile; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Shenzhen, China; Tianjin, China; Warsaw, Poland; Wuhan, China; and Xi’an, China.

China is ubiquitous, Brazil and South Africa prominent but worth noting both Katowice and Warsaw from Poland in that list too. Could central Europe be slowly starting to establish itself again as an economic powerhouse? It seems the USA will continue to be big players for some time with all but two of the  ‘Knowledge Capitals’ (19 productive, mid-sized innovation centers) there. Only Stockholm and Zurich share that same classification: Atlanta, USA; Austin, USA; Baltimore, USA; Boston, USA; Chicago, USA; Dallas, USA; Denver, USA; Hartford, USA; Houston, USA; Minneapolis, USA; Philadelphia, USA; Portland, USA; San Diego, USA; San Francisco, USA; San Jose, USA; Seattle, USA; Stockholm, Sweden; Washington DC, USA; and Zurich, Switzerland.




Author: Andy Nolan

An experienced director-level professional with expertise in sustainable development, cities, universities, governance, policy and strategy. 15 years of experience working in the field of sustainability in both the private and public sector. Has worked within a local authority, in multi-authority partnerships locally and nationally. Experience in higher education across four universities in the UK plus representative bodies. Particular areas of interest and expertise include; energy; transport; climate change; waste management; air quality; decentralised energy; education for sustainability; smart cities; knowledge transfer; research.

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