What are some of the challenges and opportunities presented by measuring the performance of modern economies - particularly those of Britain's cities?

To address these questions, our host Andrew Carter is joined by Paul Swinney, Head of Policy and Research at Centre for Cities and Diane Coyle who is the inaugural Bennett Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, ONS Fellow on Measurement Issues in the Modern Economy and the author of several books, including 'GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History'.





This episode of City Talks was recorded at the launch of Cities Outlook 2018, the flagship report published annually by Centre for Cities on the economic health of British cities.

The report focuses on the impact of automation and globalisation on British cities over the next decade or so. It presents a mixed picture, finding, for example, that whilst automation and globalisation are likely to bring opportunities and boost jobs growth in all UK cities, the quality of the jobs created will vary: they are more likely to be high-skilled in the Southeast and low-skilled in the North. This may further deepen the political and economic divides across the country.

To discuss the findings contained in Cities Outlook and their implications, Andrew Carter was joined at the launch event by a diverse panel: Marvin Rees, mayor of Bristol, Gemma Tetlow, Economics Correspondent at the Financial Times and Naomi Climer, commissioner on the Future of Work independent commission and past President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

Some of the issues raised in the discussion were the fact that lifelong learning – currently a weak area for Britain – will become increasingly essential and that a Universal Basic Income may need to be introduced to help those left behind.

This episode is part of the Centre for Cities City Talks series, please rate, review and share the episode if you enjoyed it.




In this episode of City Talks, Andrew is joined by Stian Westlake, advisor to the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, and Jonathan Haskel, Professor of Economics at Imperial College London, to discuss their book 'Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy'.

The book explores the long-run trend in developed economies such as the UK and USA to invest in 'intangible' as opposed to 'tangible' assets, such as design and research and development, and looks at the implication this has for our understanding of the economy. In the podcast, Andrew, Stian and Jonathan discuss what it means to invest in tangible, and intangible assets, some examples, and touches on the concerns around measuring the value of such investments, particularly when it comes to firms accessing credit or finance.

The episode also explores how an increase in intangible 'knowledge-based' assets such as an algorithm or a successful marketing campaign, is also increasingly likely to occur in an urban environment. Much like urban economists refer to agglomeration economies, the intangible economy is fueled by the way ideas (themselves intangible assets) link to other ideas, forming more innovative practices, more knowledge and higher productivity.

Finally, they grapple with the not-so-simple policy solution for those left-behind places which are not seeing a surge of intangible economic activity, and offer some ways where policy reform might help.

This episode is part of the Centre for Cities City Talks series, please rate, review and share the episode if you enjoyed it.


In this City Horizons lecture, Professor Ron Martin, Professor of Economic Geography at Cambridge University and principal investigator in major ESRC funded project, City Evolutions, explored the resilience of British cities to major economic shocks.

With Brexit looming, and the prospect of future disruptive technological change, the economic future of British cities is unpredictable at best. Using half a century of detailed economic data for 85 cities across the country, Professor Martin will discuss the relevance of the notion of ‘resilience’ both in understanding how cities react to and recover from economic shocks. Looking at evidence from the three most recent recessions of the 80s, 90s and the crash of 2008, he will explore potential policy options that might help improve the robustness of cities to future turbulence.


In this month’s episode, our chief executive Andrew Carter talks with Bridget Rosewell, Commissioner of the National Infrastructure Commisssion, and Henry Overman, Professor of Economic Geography at LSE, about the role of infrastructure in supporting economic growth and jobs across the country.

Andrew and his guests consider the merits of big infrastructure projects such as Crossrail 2 and the Northern Powerhouse Rail. These decisions are notoriously tricky both in terms of weighing up costs to potential benefits if the project gets the go-ahead, as well as the possible consequences of doing nothing. If the objective is to increase people's access to the labour market, our panellists argue that improving transport infrastructure alone may not be enough. For instance, the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has fantastic transport connections to the biggest agglomeration of jobs in the UK, but life outcomes for residents are poor. They examine all the obstacles that prevent people accessing jobs such as skills and health outcomes, and debate options to improve their prospects.


In this month's episode, our chief executive Andrew talks with Professor Michael Storper (UCLA, Sciences PO and the LSE) about the widening gap between successful cities and struggling places, and how this is contributing to the political tensions which helped drive the vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.

With migration between cities in decline and the diffusion of jobs lessening over time, they discuss why it's become much harder for people who grow up in lower income areas to move into and thrive in economically vibrant cities like London, and the limited role that housing policy can play in addressing these problems.

Prof Storper also talks about his fascinating research comparing the paths of San Francisco and Los Angeles from the 1970s to the present day. He gives a nod to our report A Century of Cities to illustrate the success of cities who reinvent themselves and so prosper in the future. Finally, Andrew and Prof Storper turn to how policy can help middle-income cities grow, and how regional cities in developed countries have been affected by the loss of jobs to countries such as India and China.


In this month’s episode, Andrew explores the economic impact of migration on UK cities with Dr Nicola Headlam Urban Transformations & Foresight Future of Cities Knowledge Exchange Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and Dr Max Nathan, Senior Birmingham Fellow (Regional Economic Development) at Birmingham Business School and Deputy Director at the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth.

With the recent revelation from the Office of National Statistics that only 4,600 international students overstayed their visas last year, overturning previous suggestions that the number was closer to 100,000, Andrew and his guests discuss how and why the debate on migration in the UK has become 'evidence free'.

From the benefits of cognitive diversity in the workforce to the success of the entrepreneur program, our guests offer insights from their own research on the less publicised impacts migrants have on the economy. They go on to discuss the big question; does net migration have an overall positive or negative effect on the UK economy? Finally they consider how Brexit might affect migration patterns and examine what benefits the diasporic community can have on facilitating trade links with new markets.


Centre for Cities was delighted to welcome Professor Michael Storper named by Thomson Reuters as one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds”, author of The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies and teacher at UCLA, Sciences PO and the LSE.

In an environment where the highly urbanised UK economy is experiencing deeper economic divides between not only its most and least successful cities, but between prosperous cities and its other regions, Professor Storper explored emergent trends in international urbanisation and how similar inequalities are played out on the global stage.

The lecture also explored what these divides mean both for economic policy and for current thinking around inclusive growth and spreading wealth to less prosperous places.

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Professor Diane Coyle is a Professor of Economics at the University of Manchester and author of several books including Sex Drugs and Economics, The Economics of Enough and GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History. At our City Horizons event held at the Shard on 20th July 2017, Professor Diane Coyle spoke about the role of cities as part of a modern industrial strategy, what that means for the UK’s global standing and its impact on nationwide economic growth.


In this month's episode, Andrew explores the topic of air pollution with Caroline Russell, Green Party member of the London Assembly, and Andrea Lee from Client Earth, a group of activist environmental lawyers which is currently challenging the Government's air quality plans in court.

With fatal levels of air pollution responsible for an estimated 40,000 deaths a year in the UK each year, Andrew and his guests consider how our air became so toxic. They examine the effect of tax breaks for diesel vehicles, motor companies cheating emissions tests and the impact of tech giants such as Amazon and Uber on our roads. They also discuss what cities can do to address air pollution, including London’s plan for an Ultra Low Emission Zone to be introduced in 2019. Finally, our guests talk about the role that the new metro mayors can play in raising awareness of air quality and fighting for clean air in their cities.

Before that, Andrew catches up with Centre for Cities' Naomi Clayton and Brian Semple to discuss the latest policy developments, including the Taylor Review's implications for different cities, the future of business rates devolution and what we learnt from Greg Clark's recent speech on industrial strategy.

If you enjoy this episode of City Talks, please take a moment to rate and review us!


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