Global Economic Watch


Recent Posts



  • Case Shiller: Home Prices Continue to Rise, But Gains Slow

    Home prices continued to rise in March, but as has been the case all year, the rate of growth was rather modest. According to the latest Case-Shiller Home Price Indices release, prices rose 0.8% in the 10-city composite, and 0.9% in the 20-city composite. For the first quarter, the national index rose only 0.2%. Year-over-year the 10-city composite index came in at 12.6% while the 20-city composite was at 12.4%. From the release: “The year-over-year changes suggest that prices are rising more slowly,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Annual price increases for the two Composites have slowed in the last four months and 13 cities saw annual price changes moderate in March. The National Index also showed decelerating gains in the last quarter. Among those markets seeing substantial slowdowns in price gains were some of the leading boom-bust markets including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco and Tampa. “Despite signs of decelerating prices, all cities were higher than a year ago and all but New York were higher in March than in February. However, only Denver and Dallas have set new post-crisis highs and they experienced relatively lower peak levels than other cities. Four locations are fairly close to their previous highs: Boston (8%), Charlotte (9%), Portland (13%) and San Francisco (15%). “Housing indicators remain mixed. April housing starts recovered the drop in March but virtually all the gain was in apartment construction, not single family homes. New home sales also rebounded from recent weakness but remain soft. Mortgage rates are near a seven month low but recent comments from the Fed point to bank lending standards as a problem. Other comments include arguments that student loan debt is preventing many potential first time buyers from entering the housing market.” Read the full release here .
  • Singapore Now The World's Priciest City

    You think New York City is expensive? San Francisco? Then don't move to Singapore. The Economist Intelligence Unit now ranks Singapore as the most expensive city to live. With the yen losing value over the last year, Tokyo lost its hold at the top if the EIU list. EIU economist Edward Bell talked about the rankings, and the key factors that make a city pricey or affordable, with the Wall Street Journal 's Deborah Kan :
  • Richard Florida on the Urbanized Economic Landscape

    Once, not too long ago, New York City was the place where financing for new tech business came from--not so much where the new firms were being started. The money flowed out, mainly, to Silicon Valley, and, to a lesser extent, Cambridge. Now, New York City is one of the top spots for companies that are receiving venture capital. At the same time, San Francisco now has more startup activity than the Silicon Valley. It is all a part of an important movement back to urban centers, and what Richard Florida calls a "knowledge energy growth model." In this interview with McKinsey Insights , Florida lays out the relationship between creative economies, cities, new companies, and VC firms in this new growth model:
  • McKinsey Global Institute: The Shifting Urban Landscape in Global Business

    There is a re-balancing coming for global business. Growing urban business centers in emerging economies are poised to take their places on the global stage. In a new report, McKinsey Global Institute researchers project that by 2025 45% of Fortune Global 500 companies will be based in emerging economies (though by then we may need to change that label). In emerging regions, the leading cities for business today are likely to capture a disproportionate share of company growth in the future. The number of large companies based in São Paolo, for instance, could more than triple by 2025. Beijing and Istanbul could have more than twice as many head offices as they do today. Yet company headquarters will become more dispersed across the emerging world: about 280 of its up-and-coming cities could host a large company for the first time, thus becoming new hubs in global industry networks. Although many city officials focus on luring corporate head offices, relatively few companies actually move them. But as thousands of global businesses expand into new markets, giving themselves a real choice of locations, the more promising opportunity for cities lies in attracting foreign subsidiaries. China is without a doubt the most powerful growth engine for new global companies, and now is the time for forward-thinking cities to build their reputations among its business leaders. The largest foreign subsidiaries cluster heavily in just a few key cities in each region of the world. Thanks to the highly effective efforts of Singapore’s economic-development board, that country is far and away the location of choice for Western multinationals setting up operations in Asia’s emerging economies. Other cities should learn from Singapore’s approach. The quality of the business environment isn’t the only consideration. Cities with reputations for a high quality of life—such as Prague, Sydney, and Toronto—have been more successful than others in attracting the foreign operations of multinationals. But in selecting locations for future expansion, the emerging world’s more diverse companies may consider a broader set of criteria, including the personal ties of executives educated abroad, the need to diversify family holdings, reputation building at home, or an exceptional willingness to enter frontier markets. Access the full report, Urban world: The shifting global business landscape , here .
  • Switzerland and Japan Take Top 4 Spots on World's Most Expensive Cities List

    Zurich has supplanted Tokyo as the most expensive city in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit . The struggles in the EU seem to have pushed already pricey Swiss cities Zurich and Geneva into the top three most expensive cities, as the Swiss Franc keeps getting more and more valuable. From the EIU's Worldwide Cost of Living 2012 report: Both Japan and Switzerland have seen strong currency movements over the last few years which have made them relatively more expensive. This has become especially true of Switzerland in the last year, where investors looking for a haven currency outside the beleaguered Eurozone have invested heavily in the Swiss Franc, prompting an unprecedented move by the Swiss government to peg the Swiss Franc to the Euro to keep the currency competitive. Although Switzerland has long featured in, or around, the world’s most expensive cities, the strong swing in currency headwinds is responsible for Zurich’s current elevated position. In local terms the opposite has been true, with relatively cheaper imports and a stable economy keeping local price inflation low. This mirrors a similar situation in Japan over recent years which resulted in Tokyo and Osaka traditionally holding the unenviable title of being the world’s most expensive cities. Local inflation in mature markets always has far less influence on the relative cost of living than the currency movements of the countries in question. This also explains the recent presence of Australian cities like Sydney and Melbourne in the ten most expensive locations as last year saw the Australian dollar pass parity with the US dollar from holding half that value a decade ago. New Yorkers with empty pockets may be surprised to learn that their city isn't near the top of the list. In fact, no American city cracks the top ten this year. Here are the ten most expensive cities: Read the EIU's release here .