06 February, 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 Emirates Economist.

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