Wednesday, May 22, 2013

David Harvey on CIty Monopolies and the Art of Rent

David Harvey is wise and usually has interesting things to say. I'm no Marxist but I agree with many of the things he brings up in this interview with Spiegel. I agree with this especially:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You are a Marxist and social theorist. In your latest book, you refer to the "art of rent," that is, when capital makes extra profits from local discrepancies. What exactly do you mean?
Harvey : Simply put, a monopolist can demand a premium for a sought-after commodity. These days, cities try demanding premiums by advertising themselves as culturally unique. After the Guggenheim Museum was built in Bilbao in 1997, cities all over the world followed its example and began developing landmark projects. The goal is to be able to say: "This city is unique, and that's why you need to pay a special price to be here."SPIEGEL ONLINE: But if every city had a Guggenheim Museum or a philharmonic like the one currently being built in Hamburg, wouldn't there be a sort of inflationary effect when it comes to such flagship projects that would lead them to fail?
Harvey : The bubble has already burst in Spain, and many of the huge projects remain only half-finished. Incidentally, major events like the Olympic Games, the soccer World Cup and music festivals serve the same purpose. Cities try to secure themselves a prime position on the market -- like a rare wine of an exceptionally good vintage.

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