Wade Shepard, a journalist who writes on new cities has an article in Forbes which describes some of the challenges in categorizing new city projects.
When emerging markets step onto the global stage they are often clad in new cities. From China to India to the Middle East to North and Subsaharan Africa, markets are rebranding themselves as modern, international and investment-worthy by building shiny new metropolises in droves. Indonesia has 28 new cities in the works, Morocco is building nine, while even little Kuwait is at work constructing 12 new cities of their own. As I write this, Oman is building Duqm—a new urban colossus two and half times the size of Singapore—out in the middle of the desert, Palestine is throwing up the towers of Rawabi, and developers in South Korea’s Songdo are proverbially looking down from the windows of their skyscrapers upon the new city of 120,000 people they built successfully from scratch on reclaimed land.
The challenge in categorizing new cities is that there doesn’t exist a standard for defining cities. For example, sometimes a single city can have multiple administrative areas, like the Washington DC metropolitan area, or an administrative area can encompass multiple cities, like Chongqing.
Wade Shepard identifies five important qualities for new cities; 1) master planning, 2) multi-use, including residential, 3) economic drivers, 4) physically distinct from other urban areas, and 5) distinct identities. I would, however, caution, that new cities do not, and in fact most aren’t master planned.Read More
Our fifth guest for the Innovative Governance Podcast is Glen Weyl. He has a new book written with Eric Posner, Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society where he argues that we should rethink our current property rights regime in favor of property rights that are based on auctions and would lead to greater allocative efficiency.
- Radical Markets
- William Vickrey
- Mechanism design
- Armen Alchian
- Henry George
- Progress and Poverty
- Coase Theorem
- Matt Kahn on Weyl and charter cities
- Armen Alchian
- Vitalik’s blog post
Last week I attended the World Free Zone Organization’s annual conference in Dubai. One of my goals with the Center for Innovative Governance Research is, first to map, then bring together the groups which are a natural constituency for charter cities and other types of free zones. As such, what follows is a mapping of what I believe the important aspects of the World Free Zone Organization are.
- The World Free Zone Organization (WFZO) is four years old. It is not the only international special economic zone organization, another is WEPZA, but the WFZO appears to be the most active.
- Their funding is nearly entirely from Dubai related entities, see the sponsorship list here.
- They function as an industry group.
- African, Latin American, and European free zones were well represented. Asian zones were underrepresented.
- Conversations were different for different continents. High tech manufacturing in Europe, labor intensive exports in Africa.
- Most free zones present focus on exports.
- Very limited discussion on the regulatory arbitrage of free zones. What discussion there was focused on taxes.
- The speakers focused on international trade. The economists invited did not specialize in free zones.
- There were relatively few consultants there looking for clients.
- No discussion of free zones as a tool for economic development.
- No discussion of charter cities, or free zones with urban areas.
- There remains no good mapping of free zones worldwide.
The key takeaways from the conference are that discussions of free zones are still relatively underdeveloped. Free zones themselves don’t have an international internally consistent narrative, though they are developing one. There is the opportunity for influencing the WFZO, and free zones more generally, toward mixed use, more urban, deeper reforms, e.g. charter cities lite, which can set the stage for economic development.Read More