How to leverage existing resources to meet the current and future needs of cities
Crumbling streets and bridges. Poorly performing schools and inadequate social services. These are common complaints 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 internationally recognized experts in public finance describes a new way of restoring economic vitality and financial stability to cities, using steps that already have been proven remarkably successful. The key is unlocking social, human, and economic wealth that cities already own but is out of sightor hidden.” A focus on existing public wealth helps to shift 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 to understand a city's balance sheettoo few cities comprehend how valuable a working tool this can be. 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 rely on more taxes, debt, or austerity.
Another hidden asset is real estate. Even poor cities own large swathes of poorly utilized land, 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 Fundsat arm's-length from short-term political influencewill enable cities to ramp up much needed infrastructure investments.
Bruce Katz is the cofounder of New Localism Advisors and was the Centennial Scholar at the Brookings Institution, where he focused on the challenges and opportunities of global urbanization. He was vice president and codirector of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, which he founded in 1996. He coauthored The Metropolitan Revolution (Brookings, 2013).
Jeremy Nowak was the cofounder of New Localism Advisors and a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Drexel University's Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation. He created The Reinvestment Fund, one of the largest community investment institutions in the United States, and chaired the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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 Fölster 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 Fölster 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.