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Brookings Institution examines the Great Recession at the city level

Marketplace Staff Dec 7, 2010
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: A new survey by the Brookings Institution, called the Global MetroMonitor, highlights 150 of the world’s biggest metro areas. It looks at how those areas were doing before and after the global economic downturn.

Alan Berube is a senior fellow and research director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings. He’s with us from Washington. Alan, welcome to Marketplace.

ALAN BERUBE: Hi Steve. Good to be with you.

CHIOTAKIS: What does this examination say about the affects of the Great Recession?

BERUBE: I think it’s saying that it’s an uneven recession and recovery worldwide, when you look at these major metropolitan economies around the globe.

CHIOTAKIS: How do American cities fare in these comparisons?

BERUBE: There were a few American cities that really stood out as being among the top performing economies worldwide. Places like Las Vegas, Phoenix, Charlotte. We all know what the recession did to some of these places. However, overall I’d say U.S. cities are rebounding slightly better than their European counterparts.

CHIOTAKIS: You mentioned Las Vegas and some of these other sunbelt cities. What happened in Vegas? Because I noticed it was ranked globally as fourteenth. And then the Great Recession hit, and it nose dove to 146 out of 150 cities — metro-areas that you guys covered.

BERUBE: It’s an economy that was really more oriented towards consumption than any other American economy or perhaps any economy worldwide. So it just suggests that given the depth of the recession there, it could be a long and slow road to recovery for that regional economy.

CHIOTAKIS: Las Vegas, obviously a huge shift. Do the cities with these big shifts have anything in common?

BERUBE: We saw shifts not unlike what was going on in Vegas in Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid — in some Eastern European capitals — Riga, Latvia. All had a similar sort of asset bubble in the run-up up to the recession, that when it popped sent those metropolitan areas really from the top of our rankings to the very bottom.

CHIOTAKIS: If I were looking to move to the place today with the most opportunities, anywhere across the globe, where would I go?

BERUBE: You might go to Asia, you might go the places like Shanghai or Mumbai. Or you might go to Latin America. Cities like Sao Paolo or Lima. Meanwhile — U.S. and European cities are rebounding at very different rates. So I think the rankings may shift quite a bit if we come back two years from now and take a look at economic growth at the city levels again.

CHIOTAKIS: Alan Berube, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Alan, thanks.

BERUBE: Great, thanks very much Steve.


CHIOTAKIS: For a slideshow of top cities before and after the recession,
head on over to marketplace.org.

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