With the help of sociologist Saskia Sassen, Kuper traces the transformation of great global cities such as London, Paris, and New York from destitution four decades ago to their unprecedented desirability. "[F]rom the 1980s, these cities recovered. An increasingly complex financial sector needed more sophisticated networks of lawyers and accountants. Corporate mergers and takeovers meant global headquarters got concentrated in fewer places. Crime declined, making cities less scary. And so great cities grew richer. Fancy architects put up lovely buildings. House prices rose."
"First, the working classes and bohemians were priced out," he notes. "That was gentrification. Now comes plutocratisation: the middle classes and small companies are falling victim to class-cleansing. Global cities are becoming patrician ghettos."
"Global cities are turning into vast gated communities where the one per cent reproduces itself," argues Kuper. "Elite members don’t live there for their jobs. They work virtually anyway. Rather, global cities are where they network with each other, and put their kids through their country’s best schools."