Saturday, February 06, 2010

Sentence of the day

"The state was too intrusive in Brasília and almost non-existent in Dubai." - economist Paul Romer.

That's from his article in Prospect Magazine in which he is explaining his big idea of charter cities.

Context of the sentence:
Other urban economists fear new cities will repeat the unimpressive history of government-planned ones like Brasília, or Dubai’s recent bust. But these are both extreme examples. The state was too intrusive in Brasília and almost non-existent in Dubai. Hong Kong is the middle ground, a state ruled by laws not men, but one that leaves competition and individual initiative to decide the details.
Translation: Government was very much involved in Dubai's development but rather than over planning, there was under planning. And great uncertainty about law, especially property law.

Nonetheless, too much is made of Dubai's faults. After all, the expatriates came to Dubai by choice. And the vast bulk of these are coming from countries where economic prospects are dim because government incompetence and corruption.

Crossposted to UAE Community Blog.

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Blogger Abu 'Arqala said...

Interesting article, but ...

Migration to Hong Kong occurred because there were quite difficult economic circumstances in the Peoples Republic. A good number of the immigrants were also partisans of the losing side in the civil war.

Today workers from the Subcontinent migrate to Dubai for work. I suspect this doesn't occur because of their careful analysis of the rules there or the fine treatment they will receive. Rather it's because of the overwhelming poverty and poor conditions back home. Plus the lies that they are told by recruiters.

Also I think a little useful "caution" would be worthwhile with respect to praise of Hong Kong. This is a city where more than 50% of its citizens live in publicly provided housing because they cannot afford their own. In what might be described as compartments rather than apartments. Where the Legislative Council is a 50:50 combination of popularly elected representatives and functional representatives (think feudal estates). Where election of the Chief Executive is not in the hands of the residents. And finally where the Government often intervenes to protect the interests of businessmen.

2:45 AM  

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