The cities at the top of the global power hierarchy

The 2013 Wealth Report Global Cities Survey ranks the top cities in the world in terms of power:

The survey was launched in 2008 to monitor city-level power shifts. Its objective is to assess the key urban centres across the world in terms of investment opportunities and the influence they have on global business leaders and decision makers…

Our Global Cities Survey’s four-part assessment of performance is designed to give the most rounded picture of the places that matter to the wealthy and influential. The survey focuses on four categories: economic activity; political power; quality of life; and knowledge & influence.

While New York and London hold on to the top two spots, the Asia-Pacific region, with four entries, has the tightest grip on the top 10. Europe and North America also feature, with three cities each. The Middle East’s first entry, Dubai, is at number 29, while South America’s leading cities, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo, only just scrape into our top 40.

New York’s strength is reflected in its consistent showing across all four of our categories. The city is particularly strong in economic activity (being the wealth and financial centre for the world’s richest economy undoubtedly helps) and knowledge & influence, where the power of US media firms shines through. Indeed, there is a close relationship between economic activity and overall ranking, with New York, London, Paris and Tokyo occupying the top four slots for both.

When we turn to political power, Washington DC unsurprisingly leads the field, followed by Beijing and then Brussels – a small city in many ways, but one that punches above its weight politically as the headquarters of the European Union. Berlin sits just one place lower down, highlighting the growing tensions within the world’s largest economic bloc.

Here is a chart of the top five cities in each category:

This list doesn’t seem too different from the one A.T. Kearney released last year.

What would be nice to see in addition to these rankings is the interaction between these cities. For examples, how much do the social networks of the wealthy overlap across these places? How many corporations and organizations do significant business in each place? How is wealth actually spread across these places? I assume there are some significant patterns here but the emphasis in these lists is to still see these cities as separate places representing different countries.

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