For almost two centuries, starting around 1800, the history of the global economy was broadly one of divergence in average incomes. In relative terms, rich countries got even richer. There was growth in the poorer countries, too, but it was slower than rich-country growth, and the discrepancy in prosperity between rich and poor countries increased.
This “divergence” was very pronounced in colonial times. It slowed after the 1940’s, but it was only around 1990 that an entirely new trend could be observed – convergence between average incomes in the group of rich countries and the rest of the world. From 1990 to 2010, average per capita income in the emerging and developing countries grew almost three times as fast as average income in Europe, North America, and Japan, compared to lower or, at most, equal growth rates for almost two centuries.
This has been a revolutionary change, but will this 20-year-old trend continue? Will convergence remain rapid, or will it be a passing phase in world economic history?
“The 21st century has revalued these small geographies. That’s what the 21st century demands,” Katz said, noting that these days, “[w]e aren’t innovating in isolated business parks” in the suburbs.
"Cities must solve their own problems with the resources at hand - local leaders, capital and assets, anchor institutions and brainpower."
Mayors must first recognize that we are in the midst of a paradigmatic shift in urban governance and problem solving that is catching up to an established fact on the ground: Cities are networks of public, private, and civic institutions that power the economy and shape critical aspects of urban life. This “new localism” is pragmatic and solution-oriented, and by design includes exemplary leadership across sectors and segments of society.