April 25, 2017


Cities are the locomotives of economic progress. But not all cities are successful. This fascinating and important book divided them into the “treadmill towns” that fail and the “turbo-cities” that succeed. The difference, argue the authors, is that successful cities focus intelligently on developing their long-term assets. They build economic, social and human wealth.

Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times


Across the globe, people are flocking to cities.  But some cities are thriving and others aren’t. As the process of urbanization continues, it’s crucial to understand why some cities succeed and others don’t.  In this important and practical new book, Detter and Fölster teach us how to turn around distressed cities.


Peter Orszag, Vice Chairman of Investment Banking, Lazard, and former Director, Congressional Budget Office



Drawing on the successes and failures of cities around the world and applying exemplary analysis, Detter and Fölster uncover a treasure trove of hidden urban assets.  Transparent, accountable, and professional governance of the economic, social, and human assets of our cities is achievable.  A must-read for all mayors, city counselors and those who elect them.


Willem Buiter, Chief Economist, Citibank



The authors offer pragmatic solutions, linking better outcomes to asset management practices and new definitions of social capital that promote evidence-based investments. The strategy: identify your economic, social, and human assets; professionally manage assets; and instead of showcasing current interests or putting out fires, make long-term investments. The Public Wealth of Cities helps local leaders see our real responsibility: not to produce and manage public wealth but to advocate for residents served by it. Of course, money matters, but not as much as our will to collaborate across sectors in order to govern public resources well and improve lives.


Ben McAdams, Salt Lake County (Utah) Mayor



How do we deploy our public assets—our balance sheet—to meet critical social, human, and economic challenges?  How do we move beyond the essential—unassailable accountability—to our ultimate goal, expanding our metro economic engines?  Detter and Fölster take the lessons from their earlier work and apply them at the local level, where creativity and innovation are essential and where both the potential promise and pitfalls of government action are in stark relief.


Anthony Williams, Executive Director, Federal City Council, and former Mayor, Washington, D.C.



This is an important book. As the world’s population grows, some cities will be forced to adapt while others will founder. Identifying a city’s assets, improving management, and shifting resources from consumption to long-term investment make inherent sense and warrant close attention as a means to improve the quality of city life and standards of living.


Fergus J. McCormick, Chief Economist, DBRS, Inc.