Atlantic Cities

Can Skyscraper One-Upmanship Predict Economic Collapse?

Can Skyscraper One-Upmanship Predict Economic Collapse?
Reuters

Last week, British investment bank Barclays Capital released an annual report and analysis known unassumingly as the 'Skyscraper Index.'

The report stated that their index “continues to show an unhealthy correlation between construction of the next world’s tallest building and an impending financial crises,” citing statistics from New York in 1930, Chicago in 1974, Kuala Lumpur in 1997 and Dubai in 2010. As AFP summed up, the world’s tallest buildings have often been the culminations of countrywide building booms, which are conspicuous signs of the misallocation of capital and ultimately the omens of economic bust.

The report was particularly weary of the building activity in China, where 53 percent of the 124 skyscrapers under construction are slated to complete construction within the next six years. India, too, is a country eager to play catch-up, packing its cityscapes with towering steel edifices, including one that is expected to take the title of second tallest building in the world.

But Asia is not alone; Europe’s tallest tower, The Shard, is set for completion this year. So, while building the tallest skyscraper in the world might earn your city a stint in a Mission Impossible movie, let us all not forget about the long term here.

This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.

Kelly Chan is a staff writer for Architizer.com. All posts »

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