Op-Ed: Investing in Cities Could Cure 'Short-Termism'

Bruce Katz argues that federal investment in urban areas fosters a public/private ecosystem that can prioritize long-term thinking, minimizing the "short-termism" endemic to corporations and governments acting alone.
April 28, 2016, 12pm PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Alan Levine

In a piece for Brookings, Bruce Katz argues that federal investment in cities could counter the short-term thinking common to elected officials and executives focused on quarterly earnings. From the article: "Washington assessments of the forces driving short-termism tend, not surprisingly, to lead to federal proposals to curb the practices of short-term actors. I suggest another approach: provide more support for the places—cities and metropolitan areas—that are already thinking and acting for the long term."

Unlike isolated federal or corporate actions, the urban environment necessitates cross-sector partnerships. "Cities do these things through a mix of investments by a broad range of public, private, and civic investors that cut across sectors as well as jurisdictional and disciplinary lines."

With this in mind, Katz suggests several ways Washington could support long-term solutions in cities, paraphrased below:

  • Increase investments in basic science and applied research
  • Locate satellites of isolated national energy and military labs near urban universities
  • Use new credit enhancement tools around urban infrastructure to attract large-scale private investment
  • Increase flexibility in federal grants to let leaders on the ground decide the uses with the highest impact
  • Standardize and disseminate data on new instruments like social impact bonds or regional venture funds, letting city networks make smart decisions
Full Story:
Published on Monday, April 11, 2016 in Brookings
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