The answer to this Financial Times (FT) op-ed piece is really very simple. The mistake from the journalist is when he says: “The notion of a global or “alpha” city is vague…”. No, it isn’t vague at all and, of course, has nothing to do with the extraordinary claim of ‘prejudice’! The global city and ‘alpha city’ have a very precise definition as international financial centres (IFCs) and as corporate service complexes. The lesser role L.A. plays in those economic sectors on a North American and global basis in comparison to New York and London is why it is ranked lower than them. Paradoxically, if you want to adopt a broader or different definition of a global city beyond banking, international finance and corporate service functions then L.A. would of course be ‘up there’ as a ‘global destination’ and center of entertainment but the definition of a global or alpha city would be very different and potentially so vague that it would be meaningless.
To fully understand why this is an all too common error (and to understand several other errors) see my 2013 research paper:
Smith RG (2013) “The ordinary city trap”, Environment and Planning A, 45 (10), October, 2290–2304
I will be talking on Wednesday December 8th @2pm in the Research Seminar Series for the Department of Geography at Swansea University about my proof-of-concept paper recently published in the journal Futures and how that paper is the basis for an application for research funding to undertake empirical research on skyscrapers in a way which spans the so-called ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ world.
My teaching on the MSc concerns ‘Global City Pathologies’. An introduction to understanding the problems and challenges globalization brings to the world’s wealthiest and most connected global business cities.
I was interviewed for this newspaper article a couple of weeks ago. Far more of course could be said about the the future of Swansea city centre ‘after’ the pandemic. This is a very upbeat newspaper article about Swansea’s future. There is no mention of the impact of austerity or the pandemic on the incomes of Swansea’s residents and the consequences of that for the city centre, for example. In my comments I was keen to point to how a key risk to Swansea’s new redevelopment plans is that those plans assume a utility to living in the city centre; but that is a utility that is now less certain because of the pandemic.
Dr. Smith’s presentation will focus on the exponential growth our world has seen of global cities in the 21st century, which cities are global leaders in the world today, and which will become global centers of the future. He will identify the networks that make globalization shape both existing global cities and enable new cities to either have a more global role as centres of economic and political power, or an economic specialization within the overall world city network. This talk will pull together the latest thinking, scholarship and reporting on the world’s cities to both identify the leading, established and emerging global cities across the world, and discuss the extent to which that knowledge about global cities explains and predicts the global market in prime luxury residential real estate.